December 9, 1922
The New York Times
Letter to the Editor
THE EXPELLED GREEKS.
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.
EVERETT P. WHEELER.
New York, December 6, 1922.