23 October 2005

421) National Geographic - Armenian Editorial Staff

At the time of this writing, National Geographic Magazine has an Armenian on board its editorial staff. When it's time to do a piece on Armenia, the old propaganda, like 1.5 million victims, mysteriously surfaces. Let's see what the magazine wrote in the "old days." . . .

Oct..1909 – P.146: … is inhabited largely by Kuzzilbash Kurds, who are neither good Mohammedans, good Christians, nor good pagans. Nominally they belong to the Shiah sect of Mohammedans, who are looked upon with great aversion by orthodox Sunni Mohammedans, such as the Turks. In practice the Kuzzilbash are very cosmopolitan in their religious observances. When away from home they readily join in the prayers at either Shiah or a Sunni mosque. If they happen to be in an Armenian village where there are no Turks, they often go in and join in the Christian service, kneeling and bowing with congregation. At home they are said not to pray except when led by one of their sayids, or holy men, who are supposed to be descendants of Mohammed. As a matter of fact they, like the rest of the Kuzzilbash, are probably descended, in part at least, from Armenians whose conversion to Mohammedanism was not exactly a matter of conviction. One of the most peculiar customs of the Kuzzilbash is an ancient rite which is apparently of Christian origin. No European has seen it, but according to trustworthy Armenians, the Kuzzilbash men gather at the mosque on solemn feast days and one by one they advance to the front of the sacred building — on their knees, it is said by some. As each man comes forward a sayid takes a bit of meat, dips it in wine, and puts it in the man’s mouth. Such ceremony can scarcely be anything but a relic of Christianity.

In many places Turks, Kurds, Armenians all reverence the same shrines — places which have probably been sacred since the far-off days of the pagans who fought with the Assyrians or opposed the march of Xenopohon. One of the most notable of such places is located in Mushar Dagh, Mushar Mountain, inside the point of sharp bend to the to the westward made by Euphrates River.

Jan. 1912 – P.53 – "The Young Turk" by Colby Chester.

The great educational system is founded by these Americans ... comprises at present more than 300 common schools in the Empire. 44 high schools, 8 colleges, 1 normal school and 5 divinity schools. This scholastic work is spread out all over this former "garden spot of the world" and has leavened the masses with high ideals of living, knowledge of free institutions, and longing for better government. Such an authority as Gladstone has placed upon record a statement that "American missionaries in Turkey have done more good to the inhabitants of that country than has all Europe combined". And Mr. James Bryce, the British Ambassador to Washington, goes even further and states: "I cannot mention the American missionaries without a tribute to the admirable work they have done. They have been only good influence that has worked from abroad upon the Turkish Empire". The people of Turkey as body have long since passed from the pale of the "unspeakable Turk" and many of them stand out as peers of any people in the world in general intelligence, character, and all qualities that go to make good citizens; but of course as yet they are wanting in sufficient experience to guide without assistance the ship of state to the high plane at which they are aiming. During my stay among these people I have found men of sterling character and unswerving integrity, men well fitted to lead their country through crises similar to those through which our own nation passed in its struggle for birth.

While we Americans have done much toward the enlightenment of the Turk, I should say in all fairness to them that they have earnestly sought education through following the percepts of the Koran (their Bible). A short selection, reads:

"The duty of every Mussulman is to acquire science. Science is the life of the heart. The learned shine in the world like stars in the sky. Knowledge is the immortal soul of man."

And that the Turks are apt scholars no one can doubt who has lived among them. One of the younger classmen of the Beirut American University, presented me, when I was there with a copy of a speech made by Dr. Bliss, its president, on the responsibilities of popular government, which this young student had taken down stenographically and typewritten himself. This young man, a Syrian by birth, spoke English well, and more than a dozen other languages. Yet he was but an average scholar in the college. At Constantinople on more than one occasion I have witnessed the presentation of some of Shakespeare’s play by the young men of the American College for Girls that would compare with any similar representation in my own country. The Turkish people are reaching out to other civilizations for help to recover from the tyranny and stagnation that has bound them so long in slavery. They look to America particularly as the one nation of the West that has no political ambition to subserve in its action toward…

Oct. 1915 – P.329 : "Armenia and the Armenians" By Hester Donaldson Jenkins.


Armenia is a word that has widely different connotation for different peoples. To us, Americans, it means a vague territory somewhere in Asia Minor: to the makers of modern maps it means nothing: there is no such place; to the Turk of a few years ago, it was a forbidden name; smacking of treason and likely to bring up that bugaboo "nationalism" than which Abdul Hamid II feared nothing more, unless it were "liberty"; but to nearly two millions of Russian, Persian and Turkish subjects, it is a word filled with emotion, one that sends the hand to the heart and calls up both pride and sorrow. Armenia is not easy to bound at any period of history, but roughly, it is the tableland extending from the Caspian Sea nearly to the Mediterranean Sea. Its limits have become utterly fluid; the waves of conquering Persians and Byzantines, Arabs and Romans, Russians and Turks have flowed and ebbed on its shores until all lines are obliterated. Armenia is not a State, not even a geographic unity, but merely a term for the region anywhere the Armenians live.


P.330: The Armenians export silk and cotton, hides and leather, wine, dried fruits, raisins, tobacco, drugs and dyestuff. In minerals too the country is rich. Coal, silver, copper, iron and other minerals lie beneath the surface, but the Turkish government has not allowed them to be exploited. James Bryce thus speaks of the land: "Here is a country blest with every gift of Nature; a fertile soil, possessing every variety of exposure and situation; a mild and equable climate; mines of iron, copper, silver and coal in the mountains; a land of exquisite beauty, which was once studded with flourishing cities and filled by an industrious population. But now from the Euphrates to the Bosphorus all is silence, poverty, despair. There is hardly a sail on the sea, hardly a village on the shores, hardly a road which commerce can pass into the interior. You ask the cause and receive from every one the same answer — misgovernment or rather no government; the existence of a power which does nothing for its subjects, but stands in the way when there is a chance of their doing something for themselves. The mines, for instance, cannot be worked without a concession from Constantinople".

Armenian feels behind him this vast antiquity, giving him personal dignity and great national pride. They begin their history with the Garden of Eden, which they claim was in Armenia, basing the claim on the naïve statement that the land is beautiful enough to have included Paradise, and also laughingly asserting that the apples of Armenia were worthy to tempt a most Epicurean Eve. Their first recorded ancestors they find in the book of Genesis.

P.347: The Ottoman Empire was organized into millets, a religious division. There being an Orthodox millet, and a Gregorian millet, a Catholic millet, and in the nineteenth century a Protestant millet. Each of these millets has its head, who is its representative or ambassador at the Porte. This is not a purely ecclesiastical position, like that of the Catholicos, but is really a diplomatic and political office, and the demands intellectual rather than spiritual qualification. Therefore that patriarch of the Armenians is not necessarily nor by any means always a religious man, although an occasional patriarch like Ismirlian, is worth of great reverence.

It is in this entanglement with politics, and its ancient ritual in dead language that lie the dangers to the Gregorian church, namely formality and lack of application to daily living. One of the best things that Protestant missionaries have accomplished in Turkey is rectifying this ancient and noble institution. It will be readily seen that when an Armenian leaves the Gregorian to join a Catholic or Protestant Church, he in some sense loses touch with his nation, for nation or millet and church are practically one in Turkey. For this reason, if no other, all missionary work within the church is better than that done outside. Turkey governed very well, as governments went, in the first centuries of her rule, and Armenians were not unhappy. They were not admitted to the army, but paid a head tax instead; but many of their men, cleverer than the Turk in finance, became advisers to royalty. The Armenians formed a body of industrious farmers in Asia Minor and were useful business men in the coast cities, where they won respect and envy. There is little, if any, racial antagonism between Armenian and Turks, Had religion and politics never come to antagonize them, they could live together in essential harmony.

The above comes courtesy of Sukru S. Aya

© Holdwater
tallarmeniantale.com/national-geographic.htm

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