21 October 2006

1074) Rare Westerner Comparing "Evils" By and Against Turks (1878)

Once in a while, Western officials existed who looked at Turks as part of the human family.

One such official was the following Briton, Edmund Calvert.

Calvert noted the inhumanities of the Bulgarians. The reader may substitute practically any other "Orthodox" people here, including Greeks, Serbs, Russians, Montenegrins and especially Armenians. They all behaved murderously, when they had the chance, committing the worst deviltries imaginable. (And why especially the Armenians? In contrast to their other Orthodox kin, who often engaged in ethnic cleansing policies to frighten the rest into leaving, the Armenians — as they demonstrated while in control of eastern Anatolia with and witnout their Russian allies — enjoyed killing for killing's sake.)

The letter you'll be reading is from Prof. Justin McCarthy's extremely scholarly book "Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922." (This book is a must-have for any truthful party interested in this "genocide" matter.)

Let's have Prof. McCarthy dole out the introduction (pp. 91-92):

Edmund Calvert saw the unfolding of the Turkish tragedy in Bulgaria, first as British Vice-Consul in Filibe, then as Acting Consul in Edirne. Like many consular officials, before the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 he was highly critical of Ottoman governmental failures. During and after the war he saw far worse. Calvert was an accurate reporter whose concern for human suffering transcended religious and national prejudices. His analyses of the Russian occupation and Bulgarian government, of which the following is an example, are an accurate indictment of the oppressors of the Bulgarian Muslims.


September 16th, 1878

His Excellency,
The Right Honourable,
Sir Henry Layard, G.C.B.

. . . The Russian government allows the Christians to take the law into their own hands and to visit the Turkish Community at large with present and indiscriminate bloodshed, rapine, and pillage. The result is now before the world, and I hope I, who assuredly have at no time been backwards in denouncing Turkish provincial misrule, may be believed when I state that the evil state of things now prevailing is of an incomparably more widespread, harsh, and barbarous type than that which it is manifestly intended as a set-off; I speak, of course, of the normal Turkish regime, to which alone a comparison can fairly apply. If the horrors enacted in May 1876 be insisted upon, it should be remembered that they were the result of exasperation and panic engendered by reports of dastardly cruelties perpetrated by the Bulgarians upon inoffensive persons, and the reality of which peculiar class of cruelties, in the subsequent instance of the tragedy in the Balkans above Muflis, in the Kyzanlik district, have been attested by several English doctors who examined the bodies of the victims. Again, the atrocities committed on the Mussulman inhabitants of the same district of Kyzanlik, who so far from having offered any provocation had stood by the Bulgarians and preserved them from molestation during the first troubles; and the deliberate and partially successful attempts to exterminate the adult male Turkish population of that district by wholesale and cold-blooded executions, must be held at least a counterbalance to the massacres of Bulgarians in the Tatar Bazardjik district, where there was admittedly provocation.

In the north Balkan regions, to my own knowledge, and, I have been told, in the South Balkans also, and again at the present time in the Rhodope, as lately reported, the excesses committed by Mussulmans have been limited to offending Christian villages. The Christians under Russo-Bulgarian rule, on the other hand, vent their hatred indiscriminately on the whole Mussulman population, with the avowed object of bringing about its expulsion from the country.

Leaving aside, however, as regards the Turks, exceptional events arising from exceptional causes, and taking the ordinary status of the country as a basis of comparison, I may say that where instances of robbery and assassination of individual Christians occurred under Turkish rule, whole Mussulman villages are now liable to that treatment; and whereas Turkish authorities had at least the grace to profess a desire to afford redress, Russian rule in Turkey does not even make that concession to public opinion.

Abuse of Women: A Comparison

Instances of outrages by Turks on Christian females were, in ordinary times, of far less frequent occurrence than appears to be commonly believed at home. When a single case of the sort happened it would set a whole province in commotion. Since the Russian occupation, it is hardly much to say that the Bulgarians in the rural districts outrage at their will Turkish women and girls by the score.

The material well-being of the Bulgarian peasant under Turkish rule has become an admitted fact, and the national as well as individual spirit of hospitality of the Turk is proverbial. Now that the Bulgarians have the upper hand their chief aim and end (and in this, I regret to say, they are joined by no small part of the Greek rural population) is utterly to ruin the Turk and to eject him from his home in Europe. By depriving the Mussulman peasantry of their only means of independent subsistence, that is their live stock, and stripping them of all their money and personal property, it is evidently intended to force them to dispose of or to abandon their useless fields and to reduce those Turks who may remain in the country to the condition of field laborers, a state of life hitherto unknown to all but a small fraction of the population.

Again, as regards insults in matters connected with religion, I can aver from the experience of many years that instances of the sort were rare occurrences under the Turkish regime, at any rate in modern times. The ministers of religion were treated with invariable respect. Even such a trivial mark of contempt as the firing of a shot into an empty church would be taken up by the whole community of a province and made a state affair. Under the present Christian rule not one "mesdjid" (or mosque of the class answering to a Christian chapel) out often has escaped destruction, even in this town of Adrianople.

If the demeanor of the Turks towards the native Christian personally was, on occasion, haughty or otherwise objectionable (it was not habitually so) it did not under any circumstances take the unmanly and derisive forms which the Bulgarians have adopted towards the lately dominant race; as for instance at Kirk Killisa, where they have taken to compelling the Mussulmans to carry them about the streets on their backs.

Lastly, as regards the public service, by universal consent, Turkish venality and corruption at its worst is purity itself compared to its local Russian counterpart.

In short, as I have had the honor to submit above, the fruits of the Russian regime in European Turkey have proved in every point of view of a signally baser quality than those of the Turkish misrule which served Russia as a motive, or pretext, for the late war.

I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, Sir, Your Excellency's most obedient, humble servant.

Edmund Calvert
Acting Consul

(British Archives, F. O. 195-1185.)

Holdwater: As a footnote some might find interesting, Calvert's brother, Frank, as recorded in Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 3, 1874, claimed to have discovered "in the vicinity of the Dardanelles (Turkey), conclusive proofs of the existence of man during the Miocene period of the tertiary age."

© Holdwater
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