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Verdict in Trump’s hush money trial could come today

May 29, 2024 -

Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court before closing arguments in his hush money trial in New York, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)

Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court before closing arguments in his hush money trial in New York, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)

Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court before closing arguments in his hush money trial in New York, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (Spencer Platt/Pool Photo via AP)

The prosecution and the defense ended their closing arguments late last night in Donald Trump’s trial in New York City. A verdict could be reached as soon as today.

Both sides of the partisan aisle see the trial as a referendum on democracy in crisis. Donald Trump’s opponents view him as an autocratic threat to the future of American self-governance; his defenders see him as the victim of “lawfare” waged by his political opponents and the person best able to lead our nation in a chaotic world.

But those on both sides who fear for the future of our democracy at least presumably believe it should have a future. By contrast, a rising cohort rejects the very premises upon which America was founded.

This threat was made clearer and more compelling by a recent article I want to discuss with you today.

“America is and always was a dark and scheming place”

Peggy Noonan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion columnist for the Wall Street Journal, author of nine books, and former special assistant and speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan. She has been a fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and has taught history at Yale.

Her Memorial Day column, “Teach Your Children to Love America,” was so significant that I hope you’ll read it in its entirety. Here’s the part I want us to consider today:

We live in an age—I’ll say this quickly as we all know it—in which children are instructed in one hundred different ways through one hundred different portals that America is and always was a dark and scheming place, that its history is the history of pushing people around, often in an amoral quest for wealth but also because we aren’t very nice. And we never meant it about the Declaration.

Ideology and idiocy imposed this view, shallowness too. It began some decades ago but has speeded up and become more extreme in the past ten years.

She is talking about a revisionist view of American history made popular by Critical Theory, historian Howard Zinn, and many in our elite universities. They claim that America was founded as a colonizing oppressor of indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans. In their view, our founders were primarily interested in preserving and advancing their personal and financial interests, so the “democracy” they created was never intended to serve all the people, just those in power.

As critical theorists have it, the “solution,” borrowed from Marxism, is for the oppressed to oppress the oppressors. In recent years, this has included violent riots to protest racial inequality, street theft as “reparations” for the victims of such inequality, and antisemitic campus demonstrations to disrupt the “establishment” and protest Jewish/Zionist “crimes.”

This false narrative is poisoning the present and threatening the future of our nation.

“Believing you have agency to change your life”

As commentator Andrew Sullivan notes, the claim that America is “an eternal white supremacist nation” will “sap you of optimism, self-confidence, direction, and self-esteem.” As a consequence of this false vision of America, he points to “a huge increase in depression, anxiety, and mental illness among the young.”

By contrast, Sullivan writes:

Believing you have agency to change your life—what I always took to be a defining character of American democracy—gives you direction and energy; it allows you to see beyond your own self-pity toward helping others; it helps you moderate the ups and downs of life; it gives you a sense of control over your destiny, things you can do to improve your life (his emphasis).

Abraham Lincoln faced the greatest crisis in American history, yet he remained similarly convinced: “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.”

However, a century ago, President Calvin Coolidge identified the very problem we now face: “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”

Now that these foundational teachings are ceasing to be “universal in our country” or even acceptable to many, the society and government they support are foundering. Consequently, we urgently need to heed Mr. Lincoln’s prophetic warning:

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

“When you don’t love something you lose it”

Here’s the challenge: you and I must resist the temptation to reject those who reject us.

Jesus is continuing his earthly ministry through us today. We are the conduit through which his Spirit moves, the bridge over which his transforming grace walks into the lives we influence.

Accordingly, we must love our neighbor so deeply that we will do whatever it takes to help our neighbor love our Lord (Mark 12:30–31). Loving America means loving Americans. It means praying for the Spirit to love through us (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:22) and then loving others even—and especially—when they do not love us (Matthew 5:44). Our calling continues today with the next need we can meet with the mercy of God (Luke 10:37).

Peggy Noonan closes her column with the urgent plea:

Parents, help your children love this country. It will be good for them, and more to the point this country deserves it.

Also when you don’t love something you lose it. We don’t want that to happen.

Do we?

Wednesday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as if you did.” —C. S. Lewis

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