A Misguided Extension of “Russian Exceptionalism”

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

As I write on Sunday, February 27, the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv (Kiev in Russian) is under attack by seemingly overwhelming Russian forces. This is a tragic and dangerous situation first for both Ukraine and Russia but potentially for all of Europe and the Western world. Vladimir Putin has even put his Strategic Nuclear Forces on high alert.

In 1939, Winston Churchill remarked that “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”   Russian leaders, if fact, dating from the Czars of the Russian Empire, though 70 years of Communism, to non-Communist governments since 1990, have taken some national  pride in being mysterious and unpredictable. Their strategic diplomatic and military endeavors often reflect a heavy dose of deception to confuse assumed enemies, and the Russians seldom assume competitive nations are lasting friends. Churchill gave correct advice on this. If you want to understand the Russians, study what the Russians themselves consider their most important national interests. Right now that would be energy production and export and national security.

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Half-Time at the 2022 Super Bowl

John Winthrop, (1588-1649)
John Winthrop, (1588-1649)

“It isn’t hate to speak the truth.’’—J. K. Rowling

A few days after the Super Bowl, I had lunch with a group of men, most of whom had watched the Super Bowl. There was little talk of the game, the players, or the coaches. No one was in the least mean-spirited in their remarks, but most voiced an amused disgust with the half-time show and much of the advertising.  This year’s Super Bowl was yet another marker in America’s cultural and moral decline, which with alarming corporate business complicity is creating moral havoc in American society, culture, and government.

I also received a few emails expressing similar concerns.

“I don’t believe in “cancel culture” but in my household, professional football is canceled. We need to wake up and recognize right from wrong and stop the cultural drift to the left.”

“We  watched it, and it was a disgusting half time show.  I feel bad for kids growing up listening to rap crap and watching girls twerk on a halftime show.”

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The Disgraceful History of Civil War POW Camps

Edwin Stanton, U.S. Secretary of War, 1862-1868
Edwin Stanton, U.S. Secretary of War, 1862-1868

Almost 13,000 Union prisoners of war died in Confederate custody at a Confederate POW camp near Andersonville, Georgia, during the last 14 months of the war in 1864 and 1865. That was about 29 percent of the total of 45,000 Union prisoners held there during the war.  The exact number according to actual records was 12,919. That was more than half of the 22, 576 total Union deaths in Confederate POW camps. This represents 8.4 percent of the 270,000 Union prisoners held in POW camps during the Civil War. 

Although this tragic number of deaths was made into a continuous blizzard of anti-Southern propaganda in Northern political campaigns after the war, the Andersonville prisoners were not mistreated by Confederate authorities or Confederate guards at the camp. The Confederate guards died at the same rate as the prisoners. The principal causes of death at Andersonville were dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid, smallpox, scurvy, and hospital gangrene. About half the prisoners suffered from scurvy. Malnutrition had greatly increased the vulnerability of men to these diseases and made wound recovery less likely. Many of the men were so emaciated that photos enraged the Northern public.

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The Dramatic Political Party Changes from 1787 to 2022

William McKinley, elected 1896.  First conservative Republican President.
William McKinley, elected 1896. First conservative Republican President.

Ludwell Johnson entitled his 1995 book on the American Civil War and Reconstruction, North against South: The American Iliad 1848 to 1877. His reference to Homer’s ancient Greek epic on war between Greeks and Trojans emphasizes the deep and continuing  impact of the American Civil War on American culture. There have been more American books written about the Civil War than on any other subject except those related to the  Bible and Christianity.  Yet most Americans today have a pathetically shallow and faulty  understanding of the historical background, causes, and consequences of the War and Reconstruction. 

The principal reason for this is that a politically correct false narrative of the War and Reconstruction now dominates American academia, media, and politics.  This dominance has increased almost exponentially with the spreading influence of Cultural Marxism, which has become more visible since the 1960s.  However, much of the false narrative is derived from the human tendency to deny and coverup moral and intellectual failings and paste them over with noble-sounding propaganda and self-serving lies.

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Of God and His Providence over the Nations

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow
Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow

The last three leaders of Russia have something remarkably similar in their background. Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, and Vladimir Putin had mothers who were devout Russian Orthodox Christians and had their sons secretly baptized as infants during the years of vehement anti-Christian Communist rule.

 Gorbachev was born in 1931 but is still living. He was President of the Soviet Union from March 15, 1990, to December 25, 1991. His grandparents were practicing Christians, and he was christened “Mikhail” by his grandfather. While Stalin lived, Gorbachev was a dedicated Communist. But it slowly became apparent that Gorbachev was an intellectual idealist, who believed socialism was not genuine unless it was truly democratic. Long-time personal friends have described Gorbachev as loyal and personally honest, confident, polite, tactful, and having a happy and optimistic temperament. One said Gorbachev was a “remarkably decent man with high moral standards.”  A recent film clip of Gorbachev at home showed him to be philosophical and having a self-deprecating sense of humor. He is described by old friends as bright and hard-working, sometimes a workaholic. He is an admirer of St. Francis of Assisi, who he says had a significant influence on his life.  He has a large Russian Orthodox icon saint painting in his home. U.S. President Ronald Reagan thought Gorbachev was a “closet Christian,” because Gorbachev had told him they had Christian morals in common.  In December 1989, Gorbachev met with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican and agreed to official diplomatic recognition for the Vatican.

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