Since today is Cinco de Mayo, our attention turns to Mexico in about the same way as we think of Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, i.e., not much. As I see it, both of these days are just excuses to party. But I am neither Irish nor Mexican.

Your papers, please

But since our attention has turned to Mexico today, the topic of Arizona’s recent law making being in the state illegally a state crime will surely come up. And one common refrain from the left is the shock and horror of some cop demanding, “Your papers, please.” How like Nazi Germany! A quick search for the phrase and Arizona brings up many thousands of hits across the web as people hyperventilate over Arizona’s new law.

Evil, nasty Nazis! The new Arizona law must be evil incarnate, right? How could the government of Arizona pass such a terrible law?!? Even President Obama is speaking out against the cruel and unfair nature of this new law:

Indeed, our failure to act responsibly, at the federal level, will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.

In fact I’ve instructed members in my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation. But if we continue to fail to act at a federal level we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country. As a nation, as a people, we can choose a different future. A future that keeps faith with our history, with our heritage, and with the hope that America has always inspired the hearts of people all over the world.

And here goes our President again, obsessed with fairness.

But here’s the kicker: the law Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed closely mirrors the existing laws against illegal aliens that we already have, but aren’t enforcing, at the federal level. If Arizona’s new law is irresponsible and unfair, then so are the federal laws. The dirty little secret is that the federal laws are both responsible and fair. But the federal government doesn’t want to enforce it, as President Obama admits, and so Arizona decided to act.

“But how dare Arizona law-makers force people to carry documentation that they are in the state legally! That’s Nazi fascism!” Well, no. It’s just common sense. When I was recently in London, I carried with me my passport to prove I was both an American citizen and legally in the country. Mark Steyn recently wrote about the need to have documentation here in the States:

As I write, I have my papers on me — and not just because I’m in Arizona. I’m an immigrant, and it is a condition of my admission to this great land that I carry documentary proof of my residency status with me at all times and be prepared to produce it to law-enforcement officials, whether on a business trip to Tucson or taking a 20-minute stroll in the woods back at my pad in New Hampshire.

Who would impose such an outrageous Nazi fascist discriminatory law?

Er, well, that would be Franklin Roosevelt.

The Arizona law merely enforces the 70-year-old federal requirement. And no, the police will not be stopping people who are “too brown” and asking for “Ihre Papiere, bitte” in their best German accents. Only those people who have already be stopped by police for some reason may be asked to produce residency documentation. I guess it’s similar to seat belt laws in many states. These laws say you must have seat belts on when you drive, but the cops can’t stop you just because you aren’t wearing them. They have to stop you for some other reason first.

So on this Cinco de Mayo, drink your Corona cerveza and enjoy yourself. If you are in this country legally, you are most welcome, but please have your documentation with you as the federal law has required for many decades, and as the new Arizona law will soon require.

And if you are here illegally, don’t protest, march, or complain about how unfair the laws of this nation are. Just return to your mother country and reenter the United States legally this time. It’s that simple.

On September 1st, 1939, German forces crossed into Poland. Two days later, on September 3rd, England, France, Australia, and New Zealand all declared war against Germany. Two days after that on September 5th, the United States declared its neutrality in the conflict. The U.S. didn’t see why we should get involved in a European matter. After all, it was happening in Europe, not in our own country, so why should we bother or care? For all we could tell, Poland might have provoked the attack.

It wasn’t until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 that the U.S. realized it could no longer maintain a neutral position in the war. After this rude awakening, the U.S. geared up for war and began to slug it out on two separate fronts. It took many years and the force of an entire nation backing the war effort before we celebrated V-E Day and V-J Day.

This history should be familiar to us, not only because we studied World War II in school and we watch it nightly on the History Channel, but because the same thing seems to be happening now–albeit with a twist of locations. And I need to credit Glenn Beck for first pointing out this historical linkage.

In current history, it was the U.S. and not Poland that received a Blitzkrieg attack. While some of our allies–notably England–have rallied to our aid in this war against the terrorists, most of Europe is sitting back and declaring itself neutral in the conflict. It’s almost as if the world is at a pre-December 7th state in the conflict, but this time the positions of Europe and the U.S. are reversed. Will there be an attack equivalent to Pearl Harbor that will engage Europe fully in this war? Or will the parallel break down? I joked with my wife that since there is a slight twist to these events, I couldn’t really say the two time periods are parallel–more like perpendicular events. Eh, so not everyone appreciates math humor.

To round out this historical parallel, one would expect an attack on Europe as devastating and as unsuspected as the 1941 attack in Hawaii. Imagine the horror of an attack by Islamic fanatics in Berlin, causing the death of thousands. Germany has remained neutral in the war on terror, so any attack against Germany would be unwarranted and unexpected. I hope Europe might be spared the horror and tragedy of such an attack, but I also believe that without the impetus of such an attack, Europe will not fully engage with us against our common enemies. And since the terrorists hate the West and Western civilizations, Europe does have a common enemy even if it chooses not to engage them.

If such a vicious and unexpected attack does occur in Europe, I hope it will serve as a wake-up call. So far the majority of Europe has ignored, however uneasily, the March 11 attack in Madrid, the July 7 attack in London, and the weeks of riots in France. (To be honest, England has been our ally since before the London bombings, and France seems to have found its backbone after the riots, as the Prime Minister recently stated France would be willing to use nuclear weapons against anyone who attacked the nation.)

Having watched the brouhaha surrounding the Danish political cartoons about Mohammed, I am somewhat less than confident in Europe’s strength and determination. So far, Europe has not stood by the Western democratic principle of free speech and has buckled under to Islamic pressure to publicly censor the cartoons. No one really cares about insulting Christianity because they know that Christians don’t believe in cutting throats and turning themselves into human bombs to make a point. But Islam does–or to be more accurate, many followers of Islam do.

I am afraid that Europe is going down the road of acquiescing to Islamist threats. I can’t help but picture the Islamic fanatics as international bullies, threatening and carrying out violence if they don’t get their way. When you are confronted by a bully, you have only a few options. You can run away, assuming that you won’t encounter him again, or that you can successfully run from him again if you do. But as the world shrinks with the swiftness and availability of travel, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to hide from those who would hurt you. Alternatively, you could surrender to the bully’s threats. You sometimes see this with dogs. The dog who surrenders to the stronger dog will roll over on its back and piddle on itself to show its submission. I’m not all that keen on the idea of politically rolling over and piddling on ourselves to resist Islamist brutality. The last option is to resist the bully. Yes, fighting against the bully may hurt, and the bully may win the first fight, but if you fight again and again and again, every time the bully confronts you, either you will win the fight or the bully will come to realize that it’s not worth fighting you over and over. Bullies are basically cowards at heart, so when someone stands up to them and fights back, they are likely to roll over and piddle themselves.

Before September 1st, 1939, there were several times when Hitler took risks: arming Germany contrary to the Versailles treaty, sending troops into the Rhineland, and annexing the Sudetenland. He later remarked that he would have backed down if any of the European nations had called him to account for these acts. But because no one had the political backbone to hold him accountable, the world had to endure years of bloody fighting against the Nazis. We saw, and ignored, certain attacks made against us: the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing of our embassies in Africa, the attack against the U.S.S. Cole. Because we did not act decisively against these weaker attacks, I can’t help but believe we encouraged the terrorists to strike us in a way we could no longer ignore.

As much as I’d like to see Europe to join with us in the war against the terrorists, I don’t want them to go through a Pearl Harbor-like event of death and destruction. I just despair that without some historic equivalent, Europe won’t stand up against the bully of runaway Islamofascism.

There is a difference between cost and value. Cost is how much you pay for an item. This may be tangible, such as the $2.50 for your Starbucks coffee, or intangible, such as what you would have spent with that $2.50 instead of picking up your double-mochaccino-half-caf-with-foam. Value is what you are willing to pay for an item. Thus, people are only willing to buy something if the cost is equal to or less than their personal value of that item. If you value that hot dose of zing juice more than the $2.50 cost, you will stand in line, pony up the money, and head out with caffeinated cheerfulness.

But let’s stop looking at this from an Econ 101 perspective and bring it into the real world. A parent understands value and cost instinctively when he or she creates a punishment for misbehavior. The child then weighs his or her options: do I value putting ants in my sister’s Cheerios more than the cost of having my butt waxed by a 2×4-wielding dad? For most kids, the cost of the punishment is higher than their perceived value of misbehavior, and Dad is spared the call from Child Protective Services asking him to explain the suspicious bruises on Junior’s backside. The scary thing, at least to a parent, is when the child decides, “You know, the punishment is a pain, but I’d rather behave badly and pay the price than give up what I want to do.”

All crime has an associated cost. If Chris Criminal commits a particular crime twice and is caught each time, it is obvious he values the commission of the crime more than the possible cost of punishment. A criminal who has a rap sheet as long as your arm is someone who obviously values committing crimes far over the cost society can dole out. If Chris Criminal kills someone and is thrown in jail, we can see what value society places on the life of his victim based on the sentence Chris is given. Based on a report by the U.S. Department of Justice, society valued the average victim’s life at eight years of incarceration in 1981 to 14 years in 1995. That is the cost of a slain human soul in the United States–fourteen years. Life was valued even cheaper in England during these same years, with a murderer serving an average of five years in 1981 to eight years in 1995. With costs like these, is it any wonder that some criminals choose to kill again?

I believe in the death penalty for murder–not out of a need for revenge, nor because I particularly want to punish the criminal, although punishment is a valid response to a crime of this nature. Rather, I am in favor of capital punishment for two primary reasons. First, someone who commits a crime worthy of capital punishment is a menace to others, and society has the responsibility to protect its people by removing this kind of violent offender permanently. While serving as a juror in a capital punishment case, I was asked if I would favor life imprisonment with no chance for parole as a sufficient means of removing that criminal from society and preventing him from causing harm to others. My response was that, even in prison, he would still have access to other inmates and guards, and that he had already proven through his acts that he was a menace to the people around him. Second, I support capital punishment because I value human life so highly. This may sound like a contradiction, but it is not. I value the life of a victim greater than the eight to 14 years of imprisonment that society imposes on a killer. If a man knew, without a doubt, that killing his wife and unborn son would result in his death–not might, but WOULD result in his death and quickly–then perhaps Laci and Connor Peterson would still be alive today. Scott Peterson clearly valued returning to bachelorhood in the arms of Amber Frey more than he valued the life of his wife and unborn child. Anyone who could make such a cold-blooded calculation is worthy of being removed from society in a way that makes it impossible for him to re-enter it and harm anyone else.

Scott Peterson’s impending death also serves the purpose of deterring other Peterson-wannabes, reminding them that the price for committing murder is a long wait on death row, followed by a sudden shock or a big sleep at the end. Some opponents of capital punishment pooh-pooh the notion of deterrence, saying that it is impossible to prove that capital punishment keeps people from committing crime, since you can’t prove you stopped something from happening when it didn’t happen. But it’s hard to argue against this fact: when Scott Peterson is dead, he will be permanently deterred from murdering anyone else.

If our society truly values individual life highly, then someone who commits murder and deprives others of life cannot be treated lightly by society.

This casual disregard for the value of human life is evident in the daily news. On December 5, Kathy Feaganes Allen made a U-turn and ran down some teens who had accidentally hit her car with a golf ball. There was no damage to her car, but the kids most definitely suffered damage. This was not the action of someone who lost control of her vehicle; Allen willfully turned, accelerated and plowed into the teenagers. She then coolly got out of her car, lit a cigarette and called her husband to report what she had done. To Allen, the value of her car was greater than the lives of those three kids.

But this can’t be all that surprising, when our society holds human life in such disregard. At any time during her pregnancy, a woman can have a doctor destroy her unborn child’s life. The same act which contributed to Scott Peterson’s death sentence happens every day in America at the mother’s request. In Oregon and in several other locales, assisted suicide is permitted by law. In Florida, Michael Schiavo has shown that he prefers to have his disabled wife die by starvation than to divorce her and let her own parents care for her. As much as we joked about giving Grandpa an extra morphine drip in his IV, we never truly wanted to be the agents to contribute to his death; he received all the medical attention he could get before he passed away. But each year, numerous elderly relatives are hastened to their death by families who have grown tired of caring for them. Americans have proven by their actions that they like the idea of convenient death for inconvenient people.

“Enlightened” Europe has taken this concept several steps further. At first, the severely handicapped were euthanized. Then indigents, political dissidents and Jews were marched into gas chambers and liquidated. It took the Allies several years and millions of lives to force the Nazis to kick the eugenics bad habit. But sixty years later, Holland is picking up where the Nazis were forced to leave off. Officials at Groningen University Hospital recently admitted that they have euthanized (read: killed) four infants with severe disabilities. This announcement was downplayed in the world media, buried in the back pages of newspapers if it was reported on at all. The bare facts are horrifying: Dutch doctors may, without parental consent, take the life of a child up to 12 years of age if they deem it necessary. Parental wishes in the matter are only to be taken under advisement and are not in any way binding. In this regard, the European Union is inching closer to Hitler’s dream, but without the ovens. C.S. Lewis appears eerily prescient:

The greatest evil …. is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.

I value my life, and the lives of those whom I love, greater than any white-coated doctor or smooth-talking politician ever could. But God values human life even more than I do. The Lord reminds us that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10). Those who do not value what God prizes so highly will be held to account for their actions.