16 December 2006

1296) "In Defense of Armenians"

The following appeared in the rabidly pro-Armenian New York Times of Nov. 8, 1896; it appears the extremely rare article detailing the truth about the Armenians was allowed to see publication in the biased American press, and the New York Times made sure to try and nullify the effect by printing an article by an unsigned party. (This was identified as a "letter," but appeared on a page of articles (p. 16), and not the letters page.) The reason why it was unsigned was that the article was obviously written by a missionary (the author reveals he had been in "Turkey" for the past twenty years; the only Americans from the19th century who would have devoted such large blocs of life-time in such an alien culture, with very rare exceptions, would have come from the ranks of the religious fanatics; in addition, he reveals an "intimate" association with the missionary minded Robert College), which was wholly dishonest, since part of the author's mission was to defend the missionaries; it served the deceptive purpose of the "gentleman" to come across as an anonymous "neutral"). The author makes the most laughably absurd claims, which history has borne out to be lies and misrepresentations, and then wraps up by accusing the man he is criticizing as guilty of "perversions of fact." Quite the forerunner of today's Armenians, genocide scholars and other Turcophobes who similarly rush to the defense of their poisonous cause, once the rare "pro-Turk" article appears in the media. Back in 1896, the brainwashed Westerner might have been more susceptible in accepting the usual smoke-and-mirror propagandistic claims, although that is a hard call. Westerners of the 21st century are no less prejudiced, and open for voluntary mind manipulation; it's just so comfortable to think of the Armenians as poor, helpless, Christian martyrs, and the Turks as primitive savages.

The footnotes are Holdwater's. What will follow afterwards is the editorial by The New York Times on this matter, a piece that is remarkable in making clear the racism, hatred and subjectivity of the Times' editors.



The Great Body of Armenians Are Not Revolutionists— The Sultan's Motives for the Massacres — Attitude of the Missionaries.

F. Hopkinson Smith's vigorous defense of the Sultan and sharp attack on the American missionaries in Turkey, published In last Sunday's Herald, has stirred up much discussion among those who have lived in the Sultan's domains. A gentleman who has resided many years In Constantinople and is thoroughly acquainted with the people, in a letter to THE NEW YORK TIMES comments upon the Interview.

F. Hopkinson Smith
Author and artist; a man of
honor and courage

In the interview, Mr. Smith stated that the existing sentiment in favor of the Armenians was ill advised. There are 100,000 Armenians in Constantinople, he said, and every one is an Anarchist and plotter at heart. [1] He believed they should be kept out of the United States. He asserted that in Constantinople an Armenian bureau was established for the sole purpose of manufacturing news for English and American consumption. [2] He said he knew that the Armenians had been responsible for every so-called outrage committed against them in Turkey. For years they had plotted and schemed against the Turkish Government.

"It is their nature to plot," he continued.

" They have to-day the same rights in Turkey as any people of foreign religion. They want to govern the country."

The Sultan was praised by Mr. Smith for his defense of his country and of law and order.

"There is not a missionary In Turkey," he said, "who is not a sympathizer or a revolutionist at heart. They despise the Mohammedan religion and the Turkish people. The missionary element in Armenia, with headquarters at Robert College, have taught the Armenian all about American liberty and have given them an education far ahead of their needs. Consequently, the Armenians are proceeding with their plots in the tall confidence that they will be recognized and supported not only by missionaries but by the Christians throughout the civilized world."

Mr. Smith said he believed that had It not been for the attitude of missionaries in Turkey many of the outrages would not have happened. [??] of willful mutilation of bodies of Armenians he denied. There never was any danger for Americans in Constantinople.

Mr. Smith's remedy for the troubles between the Turks and Armenians was to let the Sultan alone and allow him to manage his own affairs, and to keep English and American [??] mongers out of it." [3]

In reply the correspondent of THE NEW YORK TIMES says:

Mr. Smith [??] an excellent illustration of what happens when men originally prejudiced against missions and fascinated by the glamor which certain writers have cast over Mohammedanism, go to Constantinople, [spend?] a few weeks, dine and wine with Turkish officials, foreign merchants and diplomats, make a hasty visit to Robert College, read a popular history of Turkey and come away thinking that they understand the situation. Such men always make stupendous blunders, and Mr. Smith is no exception.[4] Take as an illustration his remarks about Robert College. It is on the Bosporus, not in Pera. It is not a "stronghold of missionary influence." It has never [received?] a foot of land from any Sultan, and so far as I know, and I have been for years intimately acquainted with its affairs, has never received a cent from the Sultan's private purse.[5]

"To parallel Mr. Smith's statements, what would New Yorkers say of an Englishman who should place Columbia College on the Battery and make it the headquarters for Mr. [Mooly's evangelical?] work and a beneficiary of Boss Tweed? The President and professors of Robert College are Christian men, but they are educators, not missionaries. [6]

Missionaries Oppose Revolution

"With regard to the missionaries themselves, Mr. Smith sensibly advertises his ignorance. Throughout these years they have had great sympathy for the Armenians in their oppression by the Turkish government, but they have never had any sympathy with the revolutionary movement. On the contrary, they have done their best to oppose it, and have repeatedly been threatened by the revolutionists because of opposition to their schemes. Instance after instance could be given of this, and Mr. Smith cannot name a single man or woman who has given the slightest countenance. He speaks of Mr. Knapp as on trial for such sympathy. The charges against him, presented by the authorities at Bitlis, were pronounced by the English Consul there as utterly absurd, and the fact that they have never been pressed in Constantinople in any form shows that the Government itself has no confidence in them. [7]

"To call the missionaries 'revolutionists at heart' is a most atrocious label. [8] Equally absurd is the statement that they practically "dictated the policy of the United States Legation." [9] Imagine a company of ministers dictating to Gen. Lew Wallace, George H. [Boxer], and Oscar S. Straus! Naturally, missionary affairs have taken up considerable time, but if Mr. Smith will go to these gentlemen, he will learn that it has been not so much on the ground of philanthropic and religious work as on the basis of the rights of American citizens, secured to them by treaties. Minister Terrell is the only Minister that has ever been in Constantinople who has come in conflict with them.

Revolutionists Are Russians

"As to Mr. Smith's opinion of the Armenians, it is very much like the opinion of Americans that would be formed by taking Gov. [Altgeld?] as a type. There are bad Armenians. The whole revolutionary movement is an absurdity and a crime, but it should be clearly understood that the Armenian revolutionists are not Turkish Armenians but Russian Armenians. The men who attacked the Ottoman Bank were every one of them Russians. [10] The one sole revolutionist in Sassun who furnished a flimsy pretext for the massacre there, which was a fact, notwithstanding Mr. Smith's [denial], was a Russian. The only revolutionist that the Turkish police ever succeeded in [cornering] was a Russian, in Marsovan. It is certainly within bounds that the entire Armenian people, who are natives of Turkey, have been from the beginning and are to-day, opposed to any such scheme as that of the revolutionists.

"It is significant that the man who, of all others, represents the best elements in the Armenian people, the late Patriarch of Constantinople,. Ismirlian, was open and strong in his opposition to and denunciation of the whole revolutionist movement.[11] It is absolutely false to say that 'the 100,000 Armenians of Constantinople are Anarchists.' It is true that the Armenians have some unfortunate characteristics, but no more than other Oriental races. They are not one [way?] more tricky than the Greeks, and their general standard of morality is fully as high, if not higher. [12] In the interior, under ordinary circumstances, Turks and Armenians live side by side on friendly and even cordial terms and repeatedly during the past year Turks of the better class have given succor to the terrified victims of the mob and teh soldiers.

"How, then, is it that they have been singled out for such wholesale slaughter? That opens up a large question, and I can only state that no one can understand it who has not lived in the country, not merely visited the seaboard cities. For more than twenty years, I have made a careful study of the situation, and am convinced that the personal and national character of the Armenians are no more the cause of these massacres than they are of the silver movement in this country. They have been throughout the tools and the victims of powerful influences which they could not in the slightest control. Mr. Smith's statement that they started the troubles Is absolutely erroneous [13], but to go into detail would take altogether too long. If he will take the time to read the English Parliamentary Blue Books, he will find what the English Consuls think, and if he will consult the missionaries, he will learn what men and women think who are of better education than himself, and whose character for truth has never yet been questioned by any who have known them.

Responsibility for the Massacres.

"Who then Is responsible for the massacres? That, too, is a large question, and a full answer would require a survey of Turkish history since the treaty of Berlin. In brief, however, it must be said that the Immediate responsibility rests upon the Sultan himself. A remoter though not less real cause is found in the Russian policy. To any one who knows how closely Abdul-Hamid II. has throughout his reign dictated the most minute affairs of his empire, Mr. Smith's statement that he 'stopped the massacres as soon as he knew of them' is absurd. It is simple fact that in every instance the local officials have been in constant telegraphic communication with the palace and it is the universal testimony of the soldiers and Kurds that they have acted under direct orders from Constantinople, and that means the Sultan and no one else. [14]

"It is the belief of those on the ground most competent to know, including some at least of the foreign Ambassadors, that the attack on the Ottoman Bank was plotted by the Turkish Government, and that the men entered the bank only on receiving official assurance of protection to themselves. It is openly claimed that the Patriarch Ismirlian was deposed and exiled not merely because he so ably defended the interests of his nation, but because he furnished the most effective check to the revolutionists. [15]

The Sultan's Motive.

" It is. of course, a natural question why the Sultan should thus cut off his best resources. The reason undoubtedly lies in his belief that the Christian element within his empire and the Christian powers around it were gradually crowding the Turk and Islam out, and in a [fit] of desperation he has taken this course to frighten if possible both his subjects and his neighbors into letting him alone. Undoubtedly this seems unreasonable to some, but not to those who have examined most carefully the history of the various massacres at [Sero], In Syria. Kurdistan, and Bulgaria. [16]

" It would be interesting to have Mr. Smith's authority for his characterization of the Sultan as the 'most just and liberal-mlnded monarch of Europe.' He says 'I know.' Has he come Into personal relations with him? [17]

"The worst part of Mr. Smith's statements Is when he protests against receiving these poor people to our country or helping to relieve their suffering in their own land. Remember, it was their land centuries before the Turk ever came to it. [18] Still worse is that clause appealing to us not to 'make martyrs of these devils.' It Is difficult to understand how an American can make such statements. The Armenians are not devils, and there have been many cases of as genuine martyrdom as have been known in the history of the Christian Church. Undoubtedly. Mr. Smith is right In his statement of the devotion of the Turk to his religion. He is not right, however, when he says that they 'are quite as fanatical as the Turks.' [19]

" There Is not much use, however, in going further. The whole interview is such a series of misstatements and perversions of fact that the most charitable supposition is that Mr. Smith, like some others, has been so intoxicated by the courtesies of Turkish officials that he has lost the power to recognize character or virtue in anything non-Turkish." [20]

(The article concludes with two typically wild pro-Armenian pieces, "Fund for Armenians" — "a fund for the relief of the sufferers from the Kurd and Turkish outrages" — and "Miss Willard Arrived Here," where the National Woman's Christian Temperance President "Talked of Her Work Among the Armenians In France." Referring to the "latest Armenians horrors," the "Constantinople riot": "I never before in my life saw such heartrending scenes... What little food was given to them they couldn't eat because they are not used to it. They demand bread as hard as bricks and lots of onions and garlic."

"I am so thankful that the good people of this city acted with so much Christian charity toward those poor, helpless creatures... The wholesale massacres are likely to break out at any time — the process of killing and despoiling is going on all the time. The six powers, which seem to be the six impotents, are doing nothing, and it is left for the people themselves to take care of the question. We hope to get the people of England and this country so thoroughly aroused that they will compel some action... I believe that after a while perhaps we may be able to arouse the Christian people of the world to action."

Good old New York Times.)

Holdwater's Notes

1. Around a decade after the formation of the first serious Armenian terror group (Hunchaks, est. 1887), where loyal Ottoman-Armenians were often made fatal examples of and the Armenians' natural feelings of racial pride and nationalism were stroked, this was a factual statement. Most Armenians' hearts belonged with the revolutionaries, whether by choice or by fear.

2. Most astute! Armenian "colonists" made certain to establish themselves in other lands, particularly powerful Christian ones. A notorious example was Ohannes Chatschumian, who made sure to steal the heart of an influential woman of America's cultural elite.

3. Every one of Mr. Smith's points is so astoundingly on the button, it's almost frightening to contemplate a Westerner was capable of getting to the heart of these matters.

4. This "gentleman" appears to be a graduate from the Vahakn Dadrian School of Insulting Your Opponent. Those are mighty big presumptions he is making, in regards to how Mr. Smith arrived at his conclusions... which are anything but "blunders," and remarkable for their rare insight. How can the "gentleman" know whether Mr. Smith, a Christian himself, was prejudiced against missions, just because he brought up well deserved criticisms? And in a Western world where Islam and the east are perceived as derogatorily, how many Westerners allowed themselves to lose touch with reality over their supposed fascination? And what popular history of Turkey was available in an English language book of the time that was whitewashed in favor of the Turks, and not infused with hateful stereotypes?

5. The "gentleman" got Mr. Smith on one minor error, the location of Robert College. But who started Robert College? It was the missionary, Cyrus Hamlin. While the college may have evolved into a respectable institution of higher learning in future years, at its inception in particular, it was nothing but a "stronghold of missionary influence." Hamlin was not going to spend $30,000 of his own money on the enterprise if the idea was not to spread his holy faith. And according to an article on the college, "a most beautifully situated plot of ground, overlooking Constantinople and the Bosporus was given to Dr. Hamlin." (This article may not have been correct, mind you, but that is what it said.)

6. How utterly dishonest to present the notion that the Christianity of the men behind Robert College was incidental, and that they were uninterested in mission work. If education was their pure and primary goal, they would have admitted more than a token number of Muslim students from the get-go.

7. The dishonesty continues. "Minister Alexander W. Terrell allegedly ... accused the missionaries of 'fomenting rebellion,'" (Protestant Diplomacy, p. 44.) Everyone knew the Armenians were into independence; if the missionary educators were empowering the Armenians, isn't it disingenuous to pretend the missionaries were not supporting the rebellions? Note the source belittling the Knaap case: it's the "unconflicted" British consul, whose duties were to further the imperialistic goals of his nation, even to the tune of gunboat diplomacy. (The Times itself reported on Sept. 3, 1896 ["Turkish Banks Reopened"] that "Sir Philip Currie, the British Ambassador to Turkey... is... to have free command of British naval aid to enforce such demands as he may make.") Lastly, if the government in Istanbul chose not to make an issue of Knaap, that had nothing to do with its invalidity. The sultan was under great pressure from the powers to "behave." He even pardoned the madmen behind the Ottoman bank takeover, who rained so much death and destruction upon innocents.

There were times when missionaries permitted churches and schools to be used as warehouses for Armenian arms. The New York Times, itself, for example, reported in the Sept. 3, 1896 article cited above that a telegram sent by the Sublime Porte to the Turkish legation in Washington read in part: "In the rooms of the ministers of the school for girls at Psomatia thirty-six bombs, dynamite, and firearms were discovered."

8. Atrocious but true; an Armenian's letter to the Herald, the same newspaper Smith's article appeared in, attested to the pride Cyrus Hamlin felt in his Bulgarian students "securing the freedom and independence of their country."

9. "Historian John A. DeNovo has remarked that the White House’s representatives were so relaxed that such missionaries as George Washington of Robert College and Howard Bliss of the Syrian Protestant College often felt they had become do-it-yourself diplomats." (Protestant Diplomacy, p. 39.)

10. True, most behind the secret societies were Caucasian-Armenians, principally the ones who set up shop for the Hunchaks and Dashnaks. Smaller groups, as the Black Cross and Armenakan that preceded the two biggies, and a couple that came after (Shant and Kurban, 1896), were mainly established by Ottoman-Armenians. The bulk of the trouble-makers were foreigners. Not all of the Dashnaks taking part in the Ottoman bank takeover (which involved a good number all over town, not only the men who were inside the bank) were Russians; Armen Garo was evidently an Ottoman-Armenian, for example, later having served in the Ottoman parliament.

11. A falsehood of the worst order; Izmirlian was engaged in subversive activity ever since his appointment to the Patriarchate, and the Ottoman bank takeover forced him to resign.

12. This section is amusing, trying to find out who is worse, the Greeks or the Armenians. Ironic too, comparison to a people also notorious for sacrificing truth.

13. Far from "erroneous," the Armenians have made a habit of firing the first shot. This is another amusing section, filled with double-talk. Yet that is a very valid question, "How, then, is it that [Armenians] have been singled out for such wholesale slaughter?" Why would a people known as the "Loyal Millet," a people allowed to prosper for centuries, suddenly be lined up in a shooting gallery? The missionary author ducks the question by sniffing that the explanation would be too long, and he actually has the nerve to suggest the biased British Blue Books be consulted (that was simply incredible). Before one can think the "gentleman" can sink no lower, however, he has the absolute shamelessness to suggest that Smith should "consult the missionaries... men and women... who are of better education than himself, and whose character for truth has never yet been questioned by any who have known them." (The missionaries' Godly duty was to vilify the Moslem Turks as evidenced in their prayers, and they made a habit of breaking the Ninth Commandment, the one about not bearing false witness against one's neighbor.)

14. Of course these forces were in communication with the "boss"; their orders were to bring the violent and rebellious Armenians under control, Armenians who were indiscriminately killing and maiming many innocent Muslims in the hopes of inciting them, giving European vultures the incentive to come in and take over. Yet there is a huge difference between trying to maintain order, and even going berserk once in a while, versus being ordered to commit a kind of "genocide"; furthermore, it is absolutely unconscionable of this missionary "gentleman" to suggest such a thing without offering the evidence.

15. If the reader was beginning to suspect our "gentleman" was a little around the bend, it was most accommodating of him to provide the proof. Actually, what he is demonstrating here is either derangement of the first order, or an immoral willingness to make any false statement in an attempt to cloud the realities.

16. "Kurdistan." Perhaps our missionary friend is getting his geography mixed up, as wouldn't that be (in Anatolia) the same as "Armenia"? (Anything but what this area really was, "the Ottoman Empire.") Hope you all followed his theory, the sultan's motive in exterminating Armenians was because the Christians were getting too big for their britches (which begs the question, why were the other Christians exempted from such an extermination policy?), and the sultan hoped in part such would frighten his neighbors into letting him alone. (A neighbor as, perhaps, Russia?)

17. And what are we getting at here, exactly? Could Abdul Hamid have slipped Mr. Smith some sort of mind-altering mickey? Or could Mr. Smith possibly be "an agent of the Turkish government"?

18. Parts of the geographic expression "Armenia" seen on ancient maps was the land of what are known today as Armenians, the Haiks; along with many other peoples that had similarly migrated to the region. Regardless of what was whose centuries ago, it is not as though Armenians had lost their land in a war with Turks; these lands were under the control of others well before the Turks had appeared.

19. The one time Mr. Smith was wrong. The extremists among the Armenians were much worse fanatics, compared to the usually tolerant Turks.

20. Who would have believed the barbaric Turks could have been so lovable? With such hypnotic powers, how did they manage to be regarded as among the most unpopular people around..?

The Amazing New York Times Editorial for the Above

The following appeared the next day, November 9, 1896, on p. 4, the editorial section of The New York Times:


In a recent number of The Herald Mr. F. HOPKINSON SMITH has come to the defense of the Sultan In a manner more vigorous than convincing. He claims to have studied the Turkish question from all sides and all angles, but his conclusions ore so completely at variance with the testimony of those who have lived longest In the empire and are presumably better posted than any passing traveler can be that they will scarcely be accepted by the great majority of Americans. That the Sultan and the Turks in general havve some very estimable qualities is denied by no one, even those who have suffered the most from them. But, on the other hand, the Armenians are by no means the devils that Mr. SMITH calls them. That they have defects of character as a nation may be granted without condemning them by the wholesale. So also Mr. SMITH's attack upon the missionaries is absurd. Whatever any one may think of the wisdom of their undertaking, no one who knows anything about them questions their integrity or their credibility as witnesses. They are men and women of high education from the best circles of American society, and have repeatedly won the highest encomiums for their good Judgment and common sense, as well as their devotion, from such men as the English and American Ambassadors at Constantinople.

It Is too late to undertake any general defense of the Turk. Despite his good qualities, he Is at heart a barbarian; po- lite, affable, genial, very attractive In social and diplomatic intercourse, so long as he thinks it for his interest to be so, but relapsing Just so soon as the pressure is removed. The Armenian massacres of this past year are only a repetition of the Greek massacres early in this century, of the Druse massacres in Syria in 1860, the Nestorian massacres In 1843, and the Bulgarian atrocities In 1875. Committed under the very eye of Europe and after repealed promises of reform, these seem to be the worst, but it is really a matter of degree rather than of kind. Given another opportunity, and they will be repeated upon some other Christian community. The fact Is that the Turkish Government must go, not merely from Europe, but from Asia. As a citizen under a strong Government, the individual Turk can and does do well. As a ruler he is an outrage on humanity. He has desolated one of the fairest countries in the world and carried ruin wherever he has gone. As a matter of fact, there [is] not to-day in the Turkish Empire a single mark of progress due to him. Whatever of improvement there has been Is due to the very people whom be has sought to destroy. That he should be protected by Christian nations and [de?]fended by civilized men Is one the strangest anomalies of the time. It is significant that no one yet has [attempted?] that defense who has not so completely misstated facts as to deprive the [defense?] of any value whatever.

Ouch! More Low Blows

From The Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, December 21, 1896:

Armenian Society Meets Boston, Dec. 21. — The United Friends of Armenia society was presided over by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe at its annual meeting Saturday. One of the interesting items of business transacted was the unanimous adoption of the following resolution "That the recent attempt of F. Hopkinson Smith to cast opprobrium upon the persecuted Armenians and to ecuse the barbarous massacre of 60,000 unarmed Armenian Christians, by the express orders of the Turkish government. is an insult to the intelligence of the American people, and will forever associate his name with that of the great assassin."

Holdwater: The above is a little confusing. Did they gather to praise F. Hopkinson Smith, or to bury him? After all, we know how fetishistic Armenians can be regarding hero assassins.

The Daily Kennebec Journal, Dec. 1, 1895:

Garrulous Know-it-Alls.

Elisabeth Washburn Brainard doesn't agree with F. Hopkinson Smith that the missionaries are blamable for the Armenian massacres. This is refreshing, but she has the strongest condemnation for "hot-headed, revolutionary Armenians." She has been at Constantinople it seems. She found the Turk possessed of "very agreeable manners," especially she found the ladies "charming." To do her justice, however, Elizabeth concludes that the "gentle Turk," when his religious fanaticism is aroused, becomes like a wild beast.

We have a little mild curiosity as to just how much F. Hopkinson Smith and Elisabeth Wishburn Brainard know of the Turkish situation, anyway. We do not doubt that they have visited Constantinople and hobnobbed with the Moslem elite. People have visited New York in times past. Should they consequently assume to depict life upon an Apache reservation? Yet the polish of the Turkish court, judging from all we can learn, bears no close relation, in appearance at least, to the conditions existing among the lowest, the down trodden people of that benighted and tax ridden land. When we have the testimony of missionaries who have passed their lives among the scenes they depict, whose integrity is unquestionable; when we have the statements of Armenians, who have fled from persecutions at home to become respectable citizens in our own communities, what do we want of or care for the garrulous bids for notoriety, made by people who ought to know better but evidently don't?

Holdwater: Yes, undoubtedly F. Hopkinson Smith spoke his mind in his quest for "notoriety"! The difference between him and current opportunists like Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak is that career options open magically for the latter, whereas telling it like it really was opened the floodgates for horrible attacks on Smith's character, with nothing else, and zero rewards. These bigots from 1895 who simply and mindlessly accepted what deceptive and prejudiced parties told them were the forerunners of today's journalists and others in the media, who similarly never question the juggernaut of Armenian genocide propaganda claims. It's pretty frightening.

© Holdwater

The source site of this article gets revised often, as better information comes along. For the most up-to-date version, and the related photos, the reader may consider reviewing the direct link as follows:



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