The little nation that defeated the Soviets

Simo_hayha_honorary_rifle

Simo Häyhä, the “White Death”

A nation is defined by its history and its people’s common experiences.  That is especially true of nations whose citizens, for the most part, share a specific ethnic identity.  In Finland, where I spent some time recently, history is a living force.

For some 500 years, Finland was part of Sweden, a region in the East where members of the Finnish tribe dwelt.  Finland was Swedish during the 17th century when that kingdom was a world power, as the Swedish kings saved Lutheranism during the Thirty Years’ War and dominated much of Northern Europe.  To this day, Finland has a Swedish-speaking minority.

But then, in 1809, Sweden lost a war with Russia.  Finland, on Russia’s border, was ceded to the Czar, who made it an autonomous Grand Duchy under his authority.  So Finland went into its Russian phase, though it resisted assimilation.

When the Communist Revolution broke out, Finland saw its chance.  It declared independence and established itself as a free republic.  This happened in 1917, so that this year Finland is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The Communists had their own problems in 1917 so basically let Finland go.  Some Finns, however, were on the Bolshevik side, so the new nation fought a bloody civil war, with the “Whites” defeating the “Reds.”

But in 1939, Stalin resolved to take Finland back.  Soviet troops poured over the Finnish border.  In this conflict, known as the “Winter War,” the Soviets outnumbered the Finns three to one, with 30 times more airplanes and 100 times more tanks.

I was told that the president of Finland then was a devout Christian.  He called upon all Finns to pray.  And they did. [Read more…]

Assault on pro-life doctors

8928257201_d2ce02e317_zThe Hippocratic Oath specifically forbids physicians from committing abortion or euthanasia.  So that oath isn’t used much in the medical profession any more.  But doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals in the United States can still refuse to perform abortions on the grounds of conscience.

But now a concerted effort is underway to eliminate that conscience provision.  Lawmakers, professional organizations, and medical ethicists are considering making it a requirement that doctors do whatever their patients request.  “Personal morality has no place in medical practice.”

Under the proposed changes, a pro-life obstetrician must either perform the abortion or arrange for someone else to do it.  Or go into a different specialty.  Or leave the medical profession.

Wesley J. Smith reports on what is happening, linked after the jump, focusing on a recent article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. [Read more…]

Global cyberattack stopped by 22-year-old who lives with his parents

Screenshot of ransomware attackA massive ransomware attack on Friday hit 99 countries and shut down thousands of operations, including FedEx and England’s National Health Service.  The malware took control of computers and kept them from working unless victims made a payment of $400, going up as time elapsed.  The virus had its origin in software stolen from the National Security Administration, whose security was last year.

What strikes me the most about this attack, however, is how it was stopped.  The world was saved, so to speak, by a 22-year-old blogger who never went to university and who lives with his parents.

He read reports about the attack, found a copy of the virus, and saw that the code included a domain name that was not registered.  So he registered it.  And that stopped the virus all over the world.

More details after the jump. [Read more…]

The religious comeback after Communist atheism

Bezbozhnik_u_stanka_15-1929The Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe strongly enforced the atheism mandated by Communist ideology.  They promoted atheism by laws, education, and brutal persecution of religious believers.  Schools taught required courses in atheism.

Churches were torn down or converted into movie theaters or (in the case of the Lutheran church in St. Petersburg) swimming pools.  Thousands of pastors were killed or consigned to the Gulags.  I talked with an Estonian who told me that her son once went inside an abandoned church because he was interested in the artwork.  He was warned never to do that again or he wouldn’t be allowed to go to university.

But 25 years ago, Communism collapsed in Russia and Eastern Europe.  Now those regions are arguably more religious than most of the countries of Western Europe.

A study by Pew Research shows the massive failure of Soviet atheism.  In the 18 former-Communist countries surveyed, 86% of the population believe in God.

And yet the temporary loss of a religious history shows.  Most citizens associate religious belief with national identity.  And they aren’t necessarily going to church all that much.

Catholics go to church more than the Orthodox.  But the Orthodox are more conservative morally when it comes to issues like homosexuality.

The Pew study describes religion in the former Communist states as “believing and belonging, without behaving.”

Read about the findings after the jump.

[Read more…]

Trump changes his story on the Comey firing

donald-j-trump-1342298_640President Trump’s order firing F.B.I. Director James Comey said that the action was taken because of how he handled Hillary Clinton’s e-mail case.  Then we were told that the F.B.I. Director was fired because of recommendations by Justice Department Officials.

Now in an interview with MSNBC’s Lester Holt,  President Trump says that he was going to fire Comey “regardless” of what the Justice Department had to say.  He also called Comey a “showboat” and a “grandstander.”

In the interview, the president kept returning to the F.B.I.’s investigation of Russian influence in the U.S. election, insisting that Comey told him three times that he was not under investigation.  And, indeed, looking into Russian efforts to influence the election does not mean that the president himself is under investigation, as such.  Meanwhile, accounts from inside sources within the White House–leaked by somebody–say that the president was indeed pre-occupied and “enraged” over the Russia investigations.

But firing the head of the F.B.I. does not make those investigations “go away.”  Agents assigned to that investigation will keep on doing their work.  The interim head of the agency, Andrew McCabe, said as much.

This is why I think President Trump’s action is not equivalent to Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which he fired the Special Prosecutor investigating him.  Even if that were Trump’s intention, the action would not squelch the investigations.  (And we see how well Nixon’s more calculated action worked for him.)

I think we are just seeing, again, the results of President Trump’s impulsiveness, his undisciplined words, his dysfunctional staff, and his governmental inexperience.

Those things can be fixed or compensated for, but they need to be addressed soon lest they fatally damage his presidency. [Read more…]

Repealing chivalrous laws

318px-John_Everett_Millais_The_Black_BrunswickerThe Oklahoma state legislature, supposedly a conservative lot, has repealed the criminal seduction law, which forbade seducing a virgin by promising to marry her.  Also repealed was a law  forbidding slandering a woman’s virtue.

The state senator who pushed these repeals, a woman, thought the laws were funny.  She also said they were “obsolete, antiquated, inappropriate for our modern society.”

The Daily Oklahoman, supposedly a conservative newspaper, also thought these laws, designed to protect women, were funny.  But when the reporter, in the spirit of fun, quoted advocates of the law from 100 years ago, those gentlemen came across as noble and chivalrous in their zealous concern for wronged women.

I’m not saying we should or should not have such laws.  But the notion that chronology determines whether or not an idea is right or wrong or a law is appropriate or not is surely fallacious.  Yes, women now must be treated just like men, and the Victorian exaltation of womanhood is now considered sexist.  But women are still exploited sexually, and the problem of slandering a woman’s reputation has become even worse in the age of social media.  At any rate, mocking those chivalrous laws designed to protect women just shows the coarsening of our age.

Painting:  “The Black Brunswicker,” by John Everett Millais (1860), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=564102 [Read more…]