What’s in a Name?


By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, 25 November 2022

Some years ago, Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC because health experts had condemned fried food as unhealthy. Critics mocked: “KFC, you can run, but you can’t hide.” Then Monsanto, mired in negative publicity because of its genetically modified products (tagged frankenfood), merged with Bayer and buried its original name. Philip Morris became Altria to hide its connection to cigarettes. And now, Turkey has decided it’s no longer Turkey. It’s Türkiye. But to revise Shakespeare’s quote: “A garlic by any other name still smells rancid.”

The project manager in charge of Turkey’s name change is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the weather-vane president of the country which shares its name with an ungainly and overweight fowl.

Project manager and chief apple-polisher Erdogan is a man of feverish imagination, an indomitable will, and a sense of his glorious place in history. Thus, it’s feasible that we will see further political and cultural innovations emanating from his august office. After all, he is obsessed with the desire to replace Ataturk as Turkey’s Numero Uno.

Here are some of the diktats Padishah Erdogan (aka Ataturk Light) might issue:

Croissant will be banned across Turkey. What’s the crime of the popular pastry you might ask? To find the answer, you have to go back to 1683. That year the Ottoman Army lay siege to Vienna. To show their contempt of the Turkish invaders, Viennese bakers made a pastry in the shape of the Ottoman crescent flag. Viennese women then traipsed across the city’s turrets munching on the pastry which they called croissant (“crescent-shape”). Defeated by a united European army, the Ottomans gathered their crescent flags, rolled their tents, and retreated. Erdogan hasn’t forgotten the defeat and the ridicule of the Viennese women.

There’s more to the story of the Ottoman defeat. When the defeated Turks hurried back to Constantinople, they abandoned many bags of coffee. The Viennese mixed the bitter coffee with sugar and steamed milk to produce a drink they called cappuccino. Why the name? The capuchins is a religious order of Franciscan friars. Franciscan Marco d’Aviano had inspired the Viennese fighters and their allies to unite and fight. Hence, Erdogan’s potential ban of cappuccino in Erdoland.

The above projections are not unrealistic. After all, Sultan Abdul Hamid II, one of Erdogan’s idols, banned the mention of chemical formula H20 because he suspected it was code for “Hamid the Second to Die.”

One hopes Erdogan will remain ignorant of Johann Joseph Fux’s Turkeria musical composition or Swedish band Sabaton’s Winged Hussars which celebrate the victory over the Ottoman Turks. Likewise Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen which is set during the siege.

Erdogan might also redact a constellation named Sobiescianum from celestial maps because it is named after Poland’s King John III Sobieski who gave a drubbing to the Ottomans in Vienna.

Being a Muslim extremist, Erdogan might also dip his censorious pen into culinary matters. He might ban the hamburger or rename it to Istan-burger. He might also ban Kevin Bacon’s movies and George Hamilton’s old movies. Hamlet would not be screened or staged. Porky Pig and Peppa Pig would be exiled to the farm. The movie Babe would not be screened because its star is a pig. Books containing such children stories as Three Little Pigs will be shredded. Imported piggy banks will be pulverized or sent back to the manufacturer. Turkish censors will black out from English-language books such words as crossroad, crosswind, crossword, crosswalk, crosstalk, crossfire…and lacrosse. Turkish tour packagers will have to coin a new word for cross-country skiing. Finally, Erdogan might even ban an obscure Beatles song (Piggies Bentley) from the Sixties when Erdogan was an adolescent  and was about to start working for a Greek shop-owner.

While Erdogan is eager to distance his bankrupt domain from the North American bird, that bird would probably support Erdogan’s campaign. After all, who wants to be associated with a racist and genocidal country which spews hypocrisy, fear, hatred, and threats 24/7?

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