9 Dec 1922: The Expelled Greeks, New York Times

The New York Times
December 9, 1922

Letter to the Editor

Turkey's Defiance of All the Laws of Civilization.
To the Editor of The New York Times:

The last decree of the Angora government that 300,000 Greeks who were living peaceably in Turkey should leave that country at once and the refusal of the same Government to allow Greek ships to take them away was a gross breach action by the American Government. It is true that a nation may require individuals who are unfriendly and suspected of crime to leave the country. But that is a very different thing from compelling immediate deportation of 300,000 men, women and children with the warning that if they do not go at once, they will be carried off to the interior. This means, as experience with the Angora Government shows, that the men will be killed and the women enslaved. These people were living in their homes, earning an honest living, quite independent of the charity of foreign nations. The President of the United States had called upon the American people to relieve the distress of the multitudes who had been already driven out of Turkey and many of whose friends had been murdered by the Turks. The Times has given us pictures of these Christian refugees who are temporarily sheltered in tents and are being cared for by the American Near East Relief and by the Red Cross. Now the Turk is proposing to put upon us the burden of over 300,000 more. It is a most unfriendly act and one that we should resent and defeat by every means in our power.

The rule which should govern civilized nations was well stated by Daniel Webster, when he was Secretary of State in 1842, in a dispatch to our Minister in Mexico. Referring to American citizens who had been captured when they were alleged to be members of a large Texan force acting in hostility to Mexico, he said, "It is still the duty of this Government to take so far a concern in their welfare as to see that as prisoners of war, they are treated according to the usage of modern times and civilized States. Indeed although the rights of the safety of none of their own citizens were concerned, yet if in a war waged between two neighboring States, the killing, enslaving, or cruelty treating of prisoners should be indulged in, the United States would feel it to be their duty, as well as their right, to remonstrate and to interfere against such a departure from the principles of humanity and civilization. These principles are common principles, essential alike to the welfare of all nations, and in the preservation of which all nations have, therefore, rights and interests."

The extreme cruelty with which the Turks carried on their previous deportations is described in the report of the American Military Mission to Armenia, dated October 16, 1919. It sums up the slaughter thus: "The dead from this wholesale attempt on the race are variously estimated at from 500,000 to more than a million, the usual figure being about 800,000."

We hear much about the new Turk. As far as appears, the new Turk of the Angora Government is only new in that he has revived the fanaticism and cruelty of the Turks when first they conquered Asia Minor and captured Constantinople. The Sultan, whom they dethroned, had at least some moderation in his crimes. Henry Morgenthau, in his article recently published in The Times, states the case very clearly:

"Only the Turks are ready and eager at this moment for a strong offensive movement against civilization. In the light of recent events this constitutes a very grave danger to the whole world. Other nations, worn and weary, ask only for peace. The Turks have no commerce, no manufactures, no merchant marine. They have nothing to lose. They have no culture. They have no training save in bearing arms, no science save the science of war, no art save the lethal art. They are mere marauders."

The questions for America now to consider are these: Will Congress support the recommendations of the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy and authorize an army and navy of sufficient force to protect civilization, of which America is still a part, from these marauders, and will the President use the force he now has as a police to do our part in the struggle? And will he notify the Angora Government that it must revoke at once this order for deportation, or have we become a new America--cowardly, selfish and short-sighted--forgetful of the principles of our great statesmen and the action of our Government in previous administrations, and mindful only of our own immediate ease? God forbid.

New York, December 6, 1922.


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