Below is a commentary on a sample of books that Americans read and form a bad image of Turks and Turkey in their minds. We need to start acting to correct this situation by talking with the authors, the publishers, the promoters, the professors, the libraries etc.
Ref. 1 – Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story
The world now knows that President Bush created a bad image of the US with his horrible decisions which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq. President Bush has been declared as the worst president of US# taking over the title from President Woodrow Wilson who held that title ever since he came up with his 14 point agenda for new world order. H’s ambassador to the Ottoman Emire# who publicly advocated the expulsion of Turks from Europe has been declared as the worst US Ambassador.
A prime example of the anti-Turkish propaganda is a book by Henry Morgenthau Sr. who was the US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916. While he was stationed in Istanbul, Ambassador Morgenthau supposedly kept a diary and wrote letters to his family members and organizations in the US and Turkey which he published as a book in 1917. However, Prof. Heath Lowry and Prof. Dr Turkkaya Ataov both showed that the book, “Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story’’ was actually written by a committee consisting of the Ambassador’s Armenian secretary, Armenian translator. The purpose of the book, also supported by the US State Department and the President of USA, Woodrow Wilson.
I became aware of the book during 50th-anniversary commemoration services for the alleged Armenian genocide in New York city where Ambassador Morgenthau’s son was the main speaker.
Ref. 2 – Destination America – The People and Cultures that Created a Nation
By Chuck Wills, a book that accompanied the PBS television series by David Grubin, 2005. DK Publishing Unit, 375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014, also Dorling Kindersley, Great Britain
This is an excellent book with some omissions and deficiencies on the story of immigration to America in terms of the Four Freedoms expressed in an illustration by the famous American painter Norman Rockwell: “Freedom to Worship, Freedom from Oppression, Freedom From Want, and Freedom from Fear”, to which a 5th dimension has been added, “Freedom to Create.” With more than 500 photos and artworks, Destination America is a very informative, entertaining and comprehensive “family portrait” of the United States, where I have lived, on and off, for 50 years.
Following the introduction, the first section, Settling in America, tells the story of the First Americans and the settlement of America from the 1500s to the 1800s by the Spanish, the French, the English, the Dutch and Swedish settlers with stories of the Native Americans and the enslaved Africans. It is a moving chronicle that leads to the Thirteen Colonies, the Revolutionary War and closing the “Golden Door.”
The next four sections tell the story of immigrants from every corner of the world, including the Armenians under “Freedom from Fear.” However, there are very few references to Turks or Turkish immigrants who started coming to America during the late 19th century and the early 20th century, which probably numbers around 300,000 today. Early comers were largely Ottoman citizens with different ethnic backgrounds and a few thousand Turks who first showed up, including those during the famous Chicago Worlds fair in the 1890s, did not stay to become citizens. Most who came from the Ottoman lands are mentioned under “Muslims” (page 94) where immigration from the Islamic world is described as a fairly recent phenomenon in the United States, but with major cultural impact, perhaps numbering over 7 million. The reason was given for the immigration from Syria and Lebanon, then parts of the Ottoman Empire, is young men seeking to avoid conscription into the Turkish Army.
The Armenians have been given special treatment with 2 pages presenting a brief history followed by what is referred to as “The Horrors of 1915”, without mentioning the many Armenian uprisings in eastern Anatolia, some of which were probably organized by Armenians already settled in the United States long before the conflict started. The article begins with the following statement: “Many historians consider the fate of the Armenians during World war I to be the first European genocide of the 20th century. While the Turkish persecution of the Armenians remains controversial it led to an influx of up to 100,000 Armenians to America. Today, about half of the nation’s million or so Armenian-Americans live in California.”
The last section “Freedom to Create” includes Eli Kazan under “Theater”, referring to him as a Greek-American born in Turkey. The short biography of Kazan states that he won fame directing plays by Arthur Miller (such as The Death of a Salesman) and Tennessee Williams and acclaimed films such as “On the Waterfront”, but Kazan’s reputation among some of his peers was tarnished because he named names to the House Committee on Un-American activities during its hearing on communism in Hollywood in the early 1950s, which did not prevent him from receiving an Honorary Oscar for Lifetime achievement in 1999. He also wrote many books, including “The Anatolian”, his life story. But the book does not mention Ahmet Ertegun, the legendary “Music man” who made many musicians famous, including Ray Charles, and died last year and was buried in Uskudar, Istanbul.
In March 2006, PBS aired a documentary on the Armenian genocide, but refused the showing of another documentary, “The Armenian Revolt”, which would expose the one-sided treatment of the Armenian issue in “Destination America.” PBS, supposedly created for the good of the public, is doing a disservice to the Turkish-Americans and the general public by disseminating false information, the way the Armenian issue is presented in this book is an example. What a shame.
The book also has a wealth of information on the immigration and references to websies, such as http://www.ellisisland.com and http://www.cis.org/.
I purchased the book in Boston during a walk on the “Freedom Trail” after seeing it displayed in front of the Borders bookstore across from the “Irish Famine” monument at the corner of Washington and School Street. The book needs a major revision on the often neglected settlers in this wonderful land, the Turkish-Americans. A letter that was sent to PBS on March 16, 2006, on the documentaries aired and not aired is given below for those interested in following up on this issue. I hope this task will be undertaken by some of the 60 Turkish-American Associations and their umbrella organizations, such as the Federation of Turkish American Associations in NYC and the Assembly of Turkish-American Associations in WDC.
November 23, 2007
Ref. 3 – The War of the World, Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West
By Neill Fergusson, 2007,
This is a book about World War II, which has been presented to the world as the West’s greatest triumph, between 1939 and 1945, lasting for six years. Niall Fergusson, however, presents the view that the war was actually the result of a fifty-year struggle between rival empires, waged against innocent civilians by their fellow human beings. However, like many other historians and reporters, the author presents a one-sided and a biased treatment of the Ottoman Empire’s final days and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, listed as “Kemal” in the index, never referring to him with his rightful name Ataturk, although not related to World war II. There is also a long coverage of the alleged Armenian genocide, although this too is outside the scope of the book..
The 808-page book, after a lengthy introduction of close to 40 pages, begins with a look at 9/11, and 1901 in the first section of part I, Empires and Races, and makes reference to the Qing and the Ottoman Empires as being the oldest. In table I.1, the territories and the population of 14 empires in 1913 are presented, including Turkey and the United States (US population 91,972,266, excluding territories and Philippines, Turkey 29,000,000 and total world 1,791,000,000.) The book consists of four parts and 16 sections with an Appendix, “The War of the World in Historical Perspectives.”
The events in the Ottoman Empire during the early 20th century (1913-1922) are covered under Section 5 of part I, Graves of Nations, making references to the teachings of Ziya Gokalp, claiming that this paved way to the evolution from an empire into a nation-state, even before the outbreak of the First World War. There is no mention of the creation of the Turkish Republic and the heroic efforts of Ismet Inonu to keep Turkey outside of World War II. There are only three brief references to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, as
Kemal (p. 182), where he is mentioned as having played a key role in the defence of Gallipoli against British invasion in 1915. This is followed by the statements that “Kemal master mined the expulsion of the Greeks from Anatolia, and after entering Smyrna (Izmir), Kemal’s army sealed off the Armenian quarter and began systematically butchering 25,000 Armenians, then setting fire to it, incinerating any survivors.” What a fabrication.
There are numerous references to the alleged Armenian genocide, complete with a photograph of supposedly dead Armenian children and a watercolour painting called “Armenian Horrors.” The author makes reference to Ambassador Henry Morgenthau’s reports about what was being done – including the telling statement of Mehmed Talaat pasha, the Interior Minister, “that all the Armenians had to perish because ‘those who were innocent today might be guilty tomorrow’,” which is a fabricated statement. It even makes reference to a statement supposedly made by Rafael de Nogales, a South American Mercenary who served as the Inspector General of the Turkish forces in Armenia, that the Governor-General of the providence had ordered that all Armenian males of twelve years of age and over to be exterminated, which again is a fabricated statement.
The author calls himself a wandering scholar and in the lengthy Acknowledgements section, admits that the book is based largely on secondary sources, perhaps many not so reliable. He also states that he pursued certain issues into the primary sources, spending a lot of time at numerous public and private archives, including the United States Holocaust Museum Library and Archives, Washington, DC. It has taken ten years to complete the book with the assistance of many, including a dozen students, according to the author. There are 645 footnotes in 61 pages, reduced from the original 2,000, according to the author. Among the long list of Sources and Bibliography, there are only two books by Turks, “Turk Inkilabi Tarihi” (1952) by Yusuf Hikmet Bayur and “Turkey in the World War” (1930), by Ahmed Emin Yalman. The author promises that a full list of all references will be published in due course on his website www.niallferguson.org.
This is yet another book that presents a distorted view of the alleged Armenian genocide and Turkish history and presents a false image of the Turks to the thousands of readers of this book. I ran into this book looking for a book about America at a small library in Washington, New Jersey, America 1908 by Jim Rasenberger. I will write to the author and the publisher of this book, pointing out the biased treatment of Turks and never giving credit to Ataturk, the greatest leader of the twentieth century whose statement, “Peace at home, peace in the World” should be the motto for everyone to follow. I hope the readers of this review will take time to write to the author and the publisher and the Library of Congress and point out to the prejudiced treatment of the Turks.
29 December 2007,
|Ref. 4 – Power, Faith and Fantasy, by Michael B. Oren, a senior American – Israeli fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem who lives there with his wife and three children. Published in 2007.
The book is a survey of U.S. involvement in the Middle East over the past 230 years, beginning in 1776, with a chronology of events listing major events from 1776 to 2006 and presents a map of the Middle East and Israel,
1923 Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet is published.
“The Ottoman Empire, the forbidding and exotic polity that, for centuries, had dominated the crossroads of the world, alternately terrorizing and enchanting Westerners – Americans included – was demolished.
But not Turkey. A forty-year-old general named Mustapha Kemal, the hero of Gallipoli refused to accept the San Remo dictate and rallied the army against it. Three years later, Kemal – later to take the title Ataturk (father of the Turks) had succeeded in driving all foreign troops from the Anatolian homeland. Collaborating with the Soviets, Kemal crushed the Armenian independence movement and suppressed Kurdish separatists. In the Symrna area, tens of thousands of Armenians and Greeks were killed and 250,000 people expelled as Turkish troops sacked and burned the city.”
Many books and articles are published around the world frequently by Armenians and their sympathizers who present a one-sided view their relocations that took place during and after the First World War without ever mentioning the Armenian rebellions, which is a sad chapter in the history of the Armenians and the Turks. And there are those like Michael B. Oren who simply present information that supports the Armenian point of view, totally ignoring the Turkish side of the events, as if they are totally against the presence of Turkey in the Middle East. There are over 35 pages devoted to the Armenians and the Armenian genocide and, in a review of the book included in the back cover, Henry Kissinger states A tour the force, brilliantly researched and written, and extremely interesting, as well as informative.”
Ref 5. An Armenian Doctor in Turkey ‘’Bir Ermeni Doktorun Yasadiklari – Garabet Haceryan’in Izmir Guncesi.’’ By Dora Sakayan,
This is yet another book by the grandson of an Ottoman-Armenian, Dora Sakayan, born in Selanik in 1931, who has been living in Montreal since 1975. While going through his grandfather Dr. Garabet Haceryan’s belongings in 1992, Sakayan comes across a diary, kept by his grandfather in 1922 (70 years later). He publishes the diary in Armenian in 1995, then in English in 1997, followed by Spanish, French and Greek editions. The diary supposedly tells the story of his grandfather’s 15 days between Sept 9-24, 1922, when they face hardship following the victorious entry of the Turkish army to Izmir. The grandfather claims that the great Izmir fire was started by the Turkish soldiers on September 13 in the Armenian quarters following the liberation of Izmir from the Greek occupiers on Sept 9, 1922. This, of course, has been proven to be a lie by many researchers, including Prof. Dr Turkkaya Ataov, just like many other fabrications by some
Armenians, such as the Hitler statement.
The book states that Dr Garabet Haceryan was born in 1876 in Bardizag, now known as Bahcecik, one of 8 villages of Izmit. The inhabitants of 5 of these villagers were Armenians, 2 were Moslems and 1 Greek. Towards the end of the 19th century, the majority of 10,500 inhabitants of Bardizag were Armenians. Garabet Haceryan goes to local Armenian Elementary school and American High school in Bardizag (The American High School building still stands, being used as a warehouse), followed by university education at Istanbul Medical School, graduating as a doctor in 1901. After working at French and Armenian hospitals in Istanbul, Haceryan is assigned as the Municipality Doctor in Bursa following his residence there for ten years. He returns to Bardizag where he gets married and has three boys and two girls. In 1914, with 1,500 youth from Bardizag , he joins the Turkish army and serves as a military doctor during the First World War, in Istanbul,
Canakkale and Izmir and receives medals for his distinguished services. He settles in Izmir after his release from the army in 1918 at the end of the war.. Here the author states that all the Armenians of Bardizag were either massacred or relocated without ever mentioning any reason or the uprisings of the Armenians in the east.
After working at several hospitals in Izmir, the author states that Haceryan is dismissed from his position in 1922 and arrested, only because he was Armenian. The same year, Haceryan and his family manage to flee to the island of Midilli and from there, move to Selanik in 1923. Following their move to Paris in 1950 and to Argentina in 1951, he dies in Buenos Aires in 1952, at the age of 76. The author presents him as a devout Christian and a great Armenian, without ever mentioning that he was an Ottoman citizen where he received a fine education and served as a doctor and led a comfortable life.
The book begins with the diary on 15/28 August 1922 and continues through 24 September 1922, giving details of his daily life, including his imprisonment, only because he was an Armenian. In various sections, Haceryan refers to the Tuks as ‘’bloodthirsty creatures’’ and to the Turkish army as ‘’Kemal and his bandits’’. He makes fun of Turks who chant for Mustafa Kemal, commenting that Mustafa Kemal was responsible for the death of thousands of Christians, never mentioning the massacres committed by the Greek army while retreating from Afyon.
Haceryan claims that in 1922, Mustafa Kemal issues an order for the arrest of all Armenian and Rum citizens as prisoners of war and that Turkish soldiers mistreat the prisoners and rapes women. Ýn referring to Sultan Abdulahamit, Haceryan blames him for the death of 300,000 Armenians, without mentioning the assassination attempts on the Sultan’s life by the Armenians and their rebellions.
The last chapter describes Haceryan’s life on the island of Midilli between 25 September 1922 and 7 April 1923. There is a long list of references and 35 pages of photographs.
The book, available in Turkish bookstores, must have been read by thousands in foreign countries, which gives a one-sided story of an Armenian’s life in the Ottoman Empire with fabrications and distortions. The author sees no reason to provide any explanation on the events as they took place. No wonder the people in the West believe in the mythical Armenian genocide.
Ref. 6 – There ‘s no God but God, The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, by Reza Aslan
The book opens with the statement, ‘’In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful’’ and first presents a ‘’Chronology of Key Events’’ starting with 570, Birth of the Prophet Muhammad. 1095, Christian Crusades launched by Pope Urban II, followed by 1281-1924, the Ottoman Empire, which is obviously not correct. We have been taught that the Ottoman Empire was founded in 1299 and ended in 1923 with the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. 1924 is given as the Creation of the secular Turkish Republic and the end of the Ottoman Caliphate, both wrong as the Ottoman Sultan was not the Caliph of the Ottomans only but the entire Muslim world. The Chronology ends with 2001, Al-Qaeda attack on New York and Washington.
Reza Aslan, who was born in Iran and lives in Santa Barbara Ca and New Orleans, appears on CNN quite often to talk about Islam. His works have appeared in many different publications including the New York Times (310 Pages), Nation. He has studied Islam in several universities and taught at the University of Iowa where he received an MFA in fiction.
The book is supposed to be all about Islam up to 2001, but there is very little on Turkey and does not mention Ataturk, who essentially started the reforms that changed Turkey. The author ends his book with the statement that ‘’The Islamic Reformation is already here. We are all living in it.’’
This is what Aslan writes about Turkey:
‘’Turkey is a secular country in which outward signs of religiosity such as hijab are forcefully suppressed. With regard to ideological resolve, one could argue that there is little that separates a secular country like Turkey from a religious country like Iran; both ideologize society.’’ The author also makes references to ‘’dhkirs’’ and the spiritual dance of Turkey’s Mevlevi Order, founded by Rumi, popularly known as the Whirling Dervishes, which was outlawed during Ataturk’s time, which is not mentioned. And on Page 137, the fiction writer states that ‘’the Sunni dynasty that ruled from their capital in Istanbul from 1453 until 1924, when they were displaced by the victors of World War I.’’
Aslan has written another book, ‘’How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror’’ and along with the No God but God, it will be read by the thousands, who will have no idea on what Islam is all about in Turkey and the role that Ataturk played in establishing a secular state from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire….. But the readers will learn that Reverend Franklin Graham, the spiritual advisor to ex-President George W. Bush, has publicly called Islam ‘’an evil and wicked religion:’’… with no clarification from the fiction writer and the author of a book praised by The Independent (London) as ‘’Precise.. acutely perspective. For many troubled Muslims, this book will feel like a revelation, an opening up of knowledge too long buried.’’ How nice.
Ref. 7 – Netherland, A Novel, by Joseph O’Neill
The book, Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill, tells the story of Hans van den Broek who is a banker. (I just read an article on the history of banking which stated that the banking that we know today originated in Holland in the 1600s and came to the US by way of England, similar to the journey of tulips from Istanbul to Holland during the same century.) Hans arrives in the US in 2001 with his wife Rachel and young baby son after working in London for many years following 9/11. They rent an apartment in lower Manhattan but after being estranged from his wife after a couple of years, who goes back to London with their son, Hans moves to Chelsa Hotel in Manhattan. He befriends a Trinidadian Chuck Ramkissoon and gets involved with the establishment of cricket in the US while trying to reconnect with his life and his adopted country. Chuck claims that Cricket was played in the US before baseball or football and that it is a native game.
The book is over 300 pages, and it tells the story of the couple who argue about the war in Iraq and other problems around the world and poverty that they see around. It also tells the story of immigrants of every race and nationality in New York. It is a long and sad story, but what struck me and the reason for writing this short review is the author includes in the novel about a Turk who also lives in Chelsa hotel. His name is Mehmet Taspinar who goes around wearing wings and angel clothes. They meet when Mehmet wonders around the hotel looking for his lost cat and invites himself into Hans’ apartment. This is narrated on page 48. Then towards the end of the novel, Mehmet Taspinar appears again, this time with his mother who is visiting from Istanbul. She is a strange woman and her son climbs the roof of a synagogue nearby, perhaps trying to commit suicide. Then they disappear into the dark night of New york city.
Hans and his wife, after she goes around dating someone else, get together and start their life over again and the main character of the novel Choch is murdered, whom Hans considered a close friend.
The question is, why would anyone include such a shady character of a Turk in a novel which is mostly on Cricket and the broken marriage between a Dutch banker and a British lawyer?
Action Items to Fight Against anti-Turkish Propaganda, some ideas
1. Probably in 2 years, the Americans and visitors from around the world will have a chance to see the ”Armenian Genocide Museum.” I believe first we should prepare a ”Fact Sheet’ – or a White paper” on why the American people should not allow the establishment of the Armenian Genocide Museum through all T-A organisations, individuals, newspapers, universities, NGOs, etc. Otherwise, we will face a monster in WDC which will haunt the Tks until eternity.
2. Many individuals have written about the fabricated ”False Hitler Statement” exhibited on the 3rd-floor wall of the ”US Museum of Holocaust” in WDC, but it is still there. I know I wrote to the director several times and spoke personally with the director, but nothing came of it. Perhaps our Turkish-Jewish-American friends can take part in a campaign for its removal before it is displayed above the entrance to the Armenian genocide Museum.
3. Probably no one has done more and continues to do damage to Turkish image than Ambassador Morgenthau, whose books and papers are located at the FRD Library, Hyde Park NY, including the books and papers of his son, Henry Jr. who was FDR’s Secretary of Treasury. This is covered in a separate commentary (Part II) which we can all contribute to as Cengiz and Maxime have done and sent it to anyone and everyone that we believe will read, including University presidents, NGOs etc….
4. Toynbee’s Blue Book, to which Amb Morgenthau and Missionaries in Turkey contributed, is the most influential propaganda material which has been called the Bible of Armenian genocide by the Gomidsas Institute. It has even been translated into Turkish. This book was challenged by the Turkish Parliament under the leadership of former Turkish Ambassador to the US Sukru Elekdag but without success.
5. There are many other books full of anti-Turkish propaganda material that I can not blame anyone who supports the Armenian issue, because they believe what they read in these books, watch movies on TV or plays at theatres. An organized approach should be developed to fight against this.
19 May 2009
Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash