Vail Daily column: Beware of columnists who speak for God |

Vail Daily column: Beware of columnists who speak for God

Steve Willing
Valley Voices
Steven J. Willing
Special to the Daily |

Editor’s note: Find a cited version of this column at

Another Sunday in the Vail Valley, another typical Jack Van Ens column. On the 45th anniversary of his ordination, Jack descended to Earth to grant us a 12-paragraph paean to Himself, wrapping up with (of course) another gratuitous swipe at Evangelicals (“45-year fight for fairness,” Sunday, July 16).

Van Ens venerates Thomas Jefferson, who supposedly is his inspiration for mixing church and state. Now there’s a peculiar twist on the very author of the phrase “wall of separation between church and state.”

Jefferson expressed a certain curiosity toward Islam and owned and read a copy of the Koran. Yet we know from other records that he was highly critical of Islam for “stifling free inquiry” and fusing mosque and state. The sanitized party line is that the founding fathers held Islam in disdain because they knew so little about it. Hardly.

Jefferson was born in 1743, exactly 60 years after the final (failed) Muslim invasion of Vienna. In 1690, Jihadist armies conquered Bulgaria and Transylvania and retook Belgrade. In 1738, the Shah of Iran conquered Afghanistan and invaded India.

Throughout Jefferson’s lifetime, Muslim pirates of the Barbary Coast were terrorizing the European Coast and shipping lanes. They kidnapped more than a million European Christians between 1530 and 1780 to sell in the vast Muslim slavery market. The Islamic war upon the west, ongoing for 1200 years, was only slowly winding down. America’s founding fathers suffered no delusions of a peaceable Islam, venerating liberty and yearning for democracy.

From the very birth of our nation, immigration has always been fraught with controversy. (For the record, the Bible is utterly silent concerning the immigration policies of a sovereign state.)

Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Every sovereign state on earth exercises legal control of who may, or may not, enter its country — and deports those who enter illegally. The alternative is anarchy. Mexico alone deports tens of thousands of illegal immigrants every year.

Any remotely sane and moral immigration policy not only can, but must, discriminate between groups. Before and during World War II, the Roosevelt administration tightly restricted the number of Jewish refugees allowed to enter the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives could have been saved, had they any place to go. That was immoral.

After the war, Evangelical Christian and Democrat Harry Truman applied all of the influence at his disposal to welcome Jewish refugees into the United States. That was morally correct. At the same time, Fascist dictator Juan Peron (husband to Evita), of Argentina, rolled out the red carpet to thousands of escaped Nazi war criminals. That, too, was immoral.

Distinctions must be made. After the fall of Saigon, America welcomed many South Vietnamese refugees, as we should have. After the fall of the Shah, America welcomed many Iranian Muslims, some of whom I’ve been privileged to work alongside. On the other side of the ledger, in 1994 President Bill Clinton enacted new barriers to those fleeing tyranny in Cuba and in 2000 courageously sent a SWAT team to capture a 6-year-old Cuban boy and return him to Castro — so much for compassion.

Immigration to the United States is not a cure for the world’s ills. Yet there is much America can do, and has done, to make the world a place where persons can be free and prosperous right at home. In the early 1950s, America went to war to rescue the southern Korean peninsula from Communist aggression. Today, South Korea is a wealthy and thriving democracy. Without us, there would be no South Korea, just one giant prison camp on the Korean peninsula ruled by the “crazy fat kid.”

In the aftermath of World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur took command of writing the new Japanese constitution. Ignoring “cultural sensitivities,” the new constitution guaranteed freedoms of speech, religion, press, assembly and equality of sexes, to name but a few. Today, Japan is a thriving and free democratic state. Contrast that with Iraq, where the Bush administration foolishly left the constitution writing to the local mandarins, Islam is the official religion, and freedom is a broken promise.

Europe has imported millions of Muslims over the past decade. The consequences have been dire: sharia enclaves where human rights are trampled upon, neighborhoods and towns off limits to women or non-Muslims, crime waves, rape jihad and a relentless stream of terrorist attacks.

Under the Nazis, the Jews had nowhere else to go. There was no Jewish state, in stark contrast to today’s Muslims. By latest count, there are 49 majority Muslim states around the globe, with abundant land and resources to accommodate all of the world’s Muslim refugees. (Not a single one is free. That is no coincidence.)

Meanwhile, within the Islamic world, Christian persecution — including rape, torture and mass murder — has reached unprecedented levels. These are the truly helpless. They have nowhere to go but the West.

Immigration is a zero-sum game. We cannot absorb the billions who would immigrate to the United States if offered the chance. For every one we legally admit, many more are denied admission. We owe asylum to Muslims who have cooperated with U.S. intelligence or security forces and whose lives may be in danger. For the vast majority of would-be Muslim immigrants, there is no coherent reason to favor them over any other group, beyond that of unabashed moral posturing.

President Donald Trump was morally justified in favoring Christian refugees over Muslims. Courts, not commentators, will decide if it is legal.

To favor immigration enforcement is neither more nor less than choosing the rule of law over anarchy. It does not make one anti-immigrant. Increasing legal immigration is a middle ground that is morally sound and makes economic sense. Personally, I support greater legal immigration with three fundamental requirements: 1) English proficiency, 2) background checks and 3) residing someplace legally at the time of application. I won’t be so arrogant as to claim Jesus is on my side — just the Wall Street Journal.

Steven J. Willing is an Edwards resident.

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