This is our 15th most-read article of 2018.
Originally published January 5.
Over the past few years, I have been mocked on late-night comedy programs as a silent dolt. It makes sense for Western liberals to mock what they don’t understand, but what they think is silence due to a childish stupidity is actually a decades-long censorship campaign of my political beliefs. My family won’t let me talk because I am an anarcho-feminist committed to Kurdish liberation.
When I was a young boy, I lived with my grandparents in Zlin, Czechoslovakia. One day, when my grandmother was subjugated to patriarchal wage slavery at a shoe factory, and my brother Don was out shooting endangered deer with Kalashnikovs, I found a strange book on her shelf titled, The National Road To Kurdish Revolution by Abdullah Öcalan. I didn’t realize it then, but this author, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), would become the most important person in the world to me, a man that I would soon call Apo, or father.
By the time I graduated from the Wharton School of Business, I had devoured Abdullah Öcalan’s works on anti-capitalist Kurdish feminism. And in 2002, in solidarity with my grandmother and proletarian matriarchs everywhere, I legally changed my middle name from “Vegas” to “Dapîr,” the Kurdish word for grandmother.
Apo imparted me the very brilliance I believe my grandmother saw in me all of those years ago. I discovered that the problem with The Apprentice was not that it was an exploitative sham, but that there is no ethical “apprenticeship” under capitalism. Apo taught me that the problem with Trump University was not that it was a fraudulent university, but that the school forbade me from teaching a class on Jineology — Kurdish anarcho-feminism — thus denying me tenure because of my political beliefs.
Öcalan taught me that America will only be safe when southeast Turkey, northeast Syria, and northwest Iraq are autonomously controlled by decentralized women’s councils. I tried to convince my birth father of this during his presidential campaign, but to this day, he insists that “bombing the hell out of ISIS” is the only answer. I even quoted Leyla Zana at a campaign meeting, saying, “Kurds are like fire: if approached kindly, they will warm you; if approached badly, they will burn you.” When General Michael Flynn heard this, he threatened to send me to Turkish prison.
When General Flynn wanted the Trump campaign to make a deal with Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan to extradite Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish rival and cleric, I protested at the meeting by eating Cheerios, a well-known symbol of women’s divinity. In hindsight, I realize this may have exacerbated my perception as an overgrown baby, and I curse my kulak brother for leaking this nonviolent resistance out of context to Saturday Night Live. But I protested Gulen not because collusion with a foreign power was a violation of federal law, but because Fethullah Gulen’s fundamentally structuralist conception of peace with a Kurdish state does not recognize intersectional anarcho-feminism, thus representing milquetoast neoliberal pacifism rooted in systemic ethno-nationalist hegemony. General Flynn convinced my father to never let me speak, or eat, in public again.
Indeed, General Flynn, Erdogan, and my so-called Trump “family,” have systematically silenced my message of feminist Kurdish liberation. Ivanka controls my Twitter account. Whenever I feel like a prisoner in my own four-star hotels, I am reminded of the struggle of Apo, currently a prisoner on Imrali. While the notorious Turkish prison island is his prison, mine is the Trump National Doral Miami Hotel Executive Suite bathroom. My gruel is room service and complimentary bath products.
There will come a day when I will liberate my dear Apo as well as my fellow Kurdish comrades in anarcho-feminism, and my grandmother will be smiling down on me, ji ezmên. There will come a day when Jineology conquers capitalism, the state-sanctioned patriarchy, and late-night TV show ratings. But until then, I — and in some way all of us — stand silently in the back of a press conference in sad, Trump-brand chains.