[December 19, 2018] The teaching of history and its importance to understanding the human condition and as a way to improve our humanity has, unfortunately, been in decline for several decades.1 The lessons we can learn are beneficial and perhaps lost if we do not focus a renewed effort. Today, I’ll highlight the Chios Massacre of 1822 as an example of what we can learn.
The Ottoman Empire was one of the strongest and most enduring dynasties in world history. This Islamic-centric empire ruled large swaths of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and North Africa for more than 600 years. Considered a major threat to Western European leaders, the empire was a source of great regional stability and important achievements in arts, science, religion, and culture.2
During the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, a number of Greek revolutionaries from Samos Island landed on Chios. While Turks from the empire were attacked on occupied Chios, there was no major defeat of the Turks, nor was there any reason to bring reprisals upon the island’s inhabitants.
The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire heard about the conspiracy to revolt and was infuriated. Sending a fleet, thousands of Turk soldiers were sent to destroy Chios and kill all the inhabitants. The order was to kill, rape, and plunder the tiny island. More than 90,000 were killed, 15,000 exiled, and 52,000 enslaved. Only 2,000 remained on the island out of its original 120,000 population. Greek Christians were also targeted for particularly harsh treatment by the Muslim Turks.
The massacre outraged and shocked Europe and spread many additional protests. To this day, Turks are still considered low-class citizens in Western Europe; of lesser intellect, from a tarnished heritage, and associated with violence for the sake of violence. Nearly 200 years after the massacre, the lingering sentiment is that Muslims generally and Turks, in particular, are not really Europeans but something to be tolerated.
Chios was also the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Empire. While there are many reasons for the Ottoman Empire’s slow economic and political disintegration, the massacre on the island of Chios was a major event that both blinded the world to all the good done during the empire’s reign but also set in motion events that seriously retarded the empire’s further advancement.
- Liberal education in America has, over the past decade, taken a rain check its primary purpose. A recent article published yesterday in the National Review by Victor Davis Hanson gets right to the point on this issue: https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/12/liberal-arts-education-politicized-humanities/