2306) An Honest Clergyman On The Armenians

The author of the passage below is identified as "Rev. J. A. Zahm [John Augustine Zahm], C.S.C., Ph.D., LL.D. (H.J. Mozans)"; in his book, he described himself as a student, not a tourist, when he undertook his travels. The Catholic Encyclopedia identified Zahm as an "author of scientific works and professor of physics." He became a center of controversy in the Catholic world, for his courage and honesty, and for writing books such as Evolution and Dogma. He also championed women... bravo! The following excerpt is from the reverend's book, "From Berlin to Bagdad and Babylon," D. Appleton and Co., 1922, pp. 210-213. Thanks to Kemal, for bringing this one to our attention.

Armenians as "Political Mischief Makers"

Still again the hue and cry was raised in Europe and America that the soulless Turk, always the Turk, only the Turk, was the guilty one. Armenian agitators, Armenian jacks-in-office, Armenian revolutionary committees provoking the Turks to retaliate on their offenders in order to force the intervention of the Great powers[19]. These political mischief makers go scot-free while the ever vilified Osmanli is pilloried before the world as a monster of iniquity and a demon incarnate.

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Father John Augustine Zahm (1851-1921)
The book here was published posthumously

The Anatolian Halil Halid, who was born and bred in Asia Minor and who spend many years in England, commenting on the matters under consideration, pertinently asks, "Did the humanitarian British public know these? No; it does not care to know anything which might be favorable to the Turks. Have the political journals of this country—Britain—mentioned the facts I have stated? Of course not, because—to speak plainly—they know that in the Armenian pie there were the fingers of some of their own politicians."[20] And those that are well informed know the reason of Britain's attitude toward Turkey, for they know that "since 1829, when the Greeks obtained their independence, England's Near East policy has been remorselessly aimed at the demolition of the Turkish Empire and the destruction of Ottoman sovereignty."

Does France, the first nation of Europe to form an alliance with the Sublime Porte, know these things? She does, but, at the present time, it suits her purpose to feign ignorance of them and to follow the policy of England in her dealings with those whom she has professed to be her friends and allies since the days of Francis I. With a volte-face worthy of a politician she does not even allow a favorite Academician, Pierre Loti—who knows the Turks better probably than any man in France—to make a statement in their favor, without censoring it, for fear he will reflect on the course of the present government.**

Does our own country, whose people are supposed to be always on the side of justice and fair play, know the truth about the Turks and Armenians in Asia Minor? Not one in a hundred; not one in a thousand. The reason is simple. They have heard only one side of the Armenian question, and, in most cases, are quite unwilling even to hear anything to the advantage of the long-defamed Turks. With most of our people the case of the Turks has been prejudged and thrown out of court. And when one who has made a thorough study of conditions in Asia Minor writes that "the most part of the peasantry are men of peace, needing no military force to coerce them, giving little occasion to the scanty police and observing a Pax Anatolica for religion's sake,"[21] lie gives most of our people, who should have an open mind, a distinct shock, but does not change in the least their life-long prejudices. And when the same well-informed writer declares that "Aliens, Greek, Armenian, Circassian thrust him"—the Turk—"on one side and take his little parcel of land by fraud or force"[22] he is suspected of being a special pleader and his testimony is rejected as worthless.

But it may be said that I too am a special pleader for the Turk. Nothing is farther from my intention. My sole desire is to make known the truth as I have found it, and I have found that it is not all on the side of the Armenians. "The Turk's patience is almost inexhaustible, but when you attack his women and children his anger is aroused and nothing on earth can control it."[22] Then, like all other races of mankind, when stirred by religious or political fanaticism or goaded on by domestic sedition and foreign intrigue, the Turks also resort to reprisals and massacres that startle the world. It may, however, be questioned whether in all their history the Turks have perpetrated such refined atrocities as characterized the Reign of Terror in France, Russia dragonades in Poland, Serbian and Bulgarian savagery in the Balkans, unprovoked deeds of violence instigated by Armenian revolutionists in Asia Minor. But of all the people involved in these unspeakable outrages the Turk is the only one who is not pardoned. Why not? He has never been granted a fair hearing before the great tribunal of humanity.

From the foregoing it is evident that the Armenian Question will not be settled so long as Armenian agitators are allowed to sow with impunity the seeds of sedition in Asia Minor, or so long as they are abetted by European nations whose manifest goal is the partition of the Turkish Empire. [24] It is also evident that, so long as present conditions persist, sporadic massacres like those provoked by the Armenians in Cilicia and Constantinople are inevitable. These conditions involve also the greater and more important Turkish Question, or, speaking broadly, the Mussulman Question. The Great Powers cannot, without grave consequences, treat Turkey as a pariah nation. This the ever-increasing number of adherents of the Prophet will not tolerate. The two hundred millions of the Faithful are, be it remembered, the chief factors in the Near Eastern Question, which can never be settled so long as the Moslems are not accorded fair play in the arena of nations. The present schemes of exploitation and conquest in Mohammedan lands now being executed by the Great Powers can, in the long run, have but one result—and that in spite of all peace treaties and leagues of nations—the result of still farther separating the Cross and the Crescent and of strengthening the barriers that have existed between the East and the West since Greek battled with Trojan on the Plain of Troy.

[19] A Wandering Scholar in the Levant, pp. 147-150 (London 1896)

[20] Pierre Loti tells of a French consul in Asia Minor who barely escaped assassination at the hands of an Armenian agitator who, when questioned regarding his attempt on the life of the functionary, coolly replied: "I did this in order that the Turks might be accused of it and in the hope that the French would rise up against them after the murder of their consul." Les Massacres d'Arménie, p. 50 (Paris, 1918).

[20] The Diary of A Turk, p. 130.

[Note: "Footnote 20" was erroneously repeated twice in the book.

** Some things never change. France censored the Turkish truth back then, as much as she does now.]

[21] D. G. Hogarth, op. cit., p. 77.

[22] Ibid., 65.

[23] Halil Halid's Diary of a Turk, p. 129 (London, 1903). "Alors," declares Pierre Loti, "comme des lions exaspérés ils se dechafneut centre ceux que, depuis des siècles, on leur a denoncés comme les plus dangereux responsables de tous les malheurs de la patrie. . . . Hélas! oui, les Turcs ont massacrés! Je pretends toutefoia que le recit de leur tueriea a toujoura été follement exagéré et les details enlaidis à plaisir; je pretends auasi—et personne là-bas n'osera me contredire—que la beaucoup plus lourde part des crimes commis revient aux Kurdea dont je n' ai jamais pris la defense." Op. cit., p. 22-24.
[Translation: "Then... like exasperated lions they unleash against those who, for centuries, have been denounced as the most dangerous, responsible for all the injustices to the Fatherland...
Alas! yes, the Turks have massacred! I claim nevertheless that the account of their killings was always madly exaggerated and ugly details were made with pleasure; and no one down there will dare to contradict me — that the heavier share of the crimes committed reverts to the Kurds whose defense I never took."]

[24] Commenting on this subject Professor, now Sir William Ramsay, writes, "Lord Salisbury protests in the strongest terms that Britain has never entertained any schemes of acquisition in Asia Minor. There is, however, probably no Russian or German or Frenchman who believes him. . . . The protestations that Britain entertains no designs in Asia Minor merely make people abroad all the more sure that a British statesman's word can never be trusted." And, referring to her creation of a new consular department to aid her in compassing her designs, he observes "as a piece of statesmanship, crafty and unscrupulous, but able, it was a master-stroke; though I think no one among us will ever look back to it without blushing for the jockeying by which it was effected." Impressions of Turkey During Twelve Years Wanderings, pp. 142-144 (London, 1897).

In the light of recent events how significant—almost prophetic—are these words of Sir William on British policy and diplomacy regarding Turkey !

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