by Jaime O'Neill | Apr 8 2007
They're everywhere, those little plastic decals calling upon God to bless America, usually decorated with the American flag and accompanied by a bumper sticker urging other motorists to support our troops.
God bless America. In numbers beyond counting, we implore the Lord of All Things to shine his light down on us with little vehicular prayers that often don't seem at all supplicatory, but usually carry the air of a demand. God bless America, and be damn quick about it.
But it ain't working. In fact, there's much evidence to suggest that we're pissing Him off.
And how is God expressing his displeasure? Well, for a start, he's plagued us with a truculent idiot as our national leader, a man who, before he assumed office, had pretty much fucked up everything he ever touched, a patched-up lush who found sobriety without the corollary of wisdom some recovered drunks manage to find, a rich kid with a ticket to ride easy through life, without much expenditure of sweat or serious thought, always accompanied by a coterie of sycophantic supporters willing to tell him how terrific he is and eager to be the proud recipients of the nicknames he enjoyed bestowing on them, nicknames like "Turd Blossom" for the man known as his brain (giving new meaning to the phrase "shit for brains"), "Fredo" for his Attorney General and all-around toady, and "Brownie," for the minion he put in charge of emergencies.
It's likely that God Himself disavows responsibility for the fact that this man is in charge. God may have made him, but we elected him as our president-twice-with all his myriad faults on ample display: the smirk, the inability to speak a sentence in English, the arrogance, the ignorance, and the unwavering allegiance to the rich and powerful above all else. The Bush presidency is surely a prime example of the idea of the self-punishing mistake. So, when a nation, favored by the rights and privileges of democracy, fails in the responsibilities to those rights and privileges by mal-educating its young and mal-practicing its political process, then the punishment God delivers to us is venal, inept, spirit-destroying, reckless, and stupid leadership, which makes for a venal, inept, reckless, stupid, and increasingly spirit-dead nation, moping around and waiting for a new election cycle when the curse of these times might be lifted. Bitching about how bad things are in these circumstances is kind of like a drunk bitching about his hangover. Sympathy is hard to find for self-inflicted ailments.
In the meantime, God's anger shows up in natural disasters and in the cultural malaise of meanness we inflict upon ourselves, perhaps as self-punishment for all we've allowed to go wrong. We watch Simon Cowell trash pathetically delusional people as a means of feeling a momentary twinge of personal superiority, or we wallow in the swill of music and movies that could only be marketed to the dimwitted and the damned. Then, sick to the soul, we turn to Dr. Phil to soothe the boo-boo with unctuous offerings of pop-psych pablum.
But if God is pissed at us, think of how pissed he must be at Iraq, having brought down His wrath upon that nation big time, with us as the agents of His fury, and with the whole Old Testament panoply of shit on their heads-death in all the guises, fire and disease from Fallujah to Dahuk, and beyond, with Shiite smiting Sunni, Sunni smiting Shiite, and al Qaeda operatives from all over Muslim Land come to join the fun.
It's the Old Testament in reruns, for those who didn't get enough of religious gore back a few millennia ago, during yet another epoch when beheadings and martyrdom were considered cool out there in the desert heat, when all the children of Abraham found time away from their efforts to scratch a living out of sand and rock to spread each other's entrails hither and yon in the name of Yaweh. Now, add Bush, Cheney, and oil to that mad mix and you've got some serious bloodshed on your hands, as much blood on your hands as the baddest of the bad guys in this little scenario-as bad as Saddam, as bad as those monster madmen of al Qaeda, and as bad as anything ever done in the name of fighting evil. We unleashed hell in Iraq, and because of that choice, lots of utterly innocent Iraqi children have been blown to smithereens, and still others have been orphaned while the country of their birth has been torn asunder.
Meanwhile, the "decider" we saddled ourselves with pursues "victory" in that land, though no one any longer has the faintest notion of how victory would be defined, what it would look like, or who would gain from it. So we slap decals on our gas-guzzling vehicles and drive to the mall, carrying out our patriotic duty to live our lives as though these are normal times, consuming junk made in China to assuage the spiritual pain we live in, and desperately diverting ourselves from the sinking sense of all the suffering our nation has awakened and cannot put back to bed. And so we talk about benchmarks and timetables; we mutter about how American resolve isn't limitless and how the Iraqis better get their acts together, and we squabble about relative degrees of patriotism and how cutting and running is different from redeploying.
Where once we led the world in science and technology, now we question science, quibbling with the scientists whenever they learn things that are inconvenient to some people's profit motives.
Where once we stood with those who resisted human rights abuses, now we twist our traditions to argue that acts such as torture and suspension of habeas corpus are necessary for our safety.
Where once we were viewed as ingenious Yankees who could come up with solutions to problems, now we show ourselves incapable of responding to our own national emergencies.
Where once we expressed at least a passing interest in the truth, now we spread propaganda and falsehood, mostly among our own people, spinning reality to make the disasters more palatable, distorting the truth to protect incompetents and exploiters.
Where once we believed in checks and balances between the branches of government, now we barely muster squeaks of protest as more and more power is expropriated by the Executive branch.
Where once we were seen as a nation of immigrants, a country that welcomed foreigners beneath the beacon of the Statue of Liberty, now we are seen as a nation that exploits foreign workers while condemning them to live powerless in an atmosphere of fear and prejudice.
Where once we were seen by the majority of the world's population as a vital and energetic nation with a "can-do" spirit, now we are seen more and more commonly as a gluttonous pack of sloths, unwilling to make our own products, harvest our own food, or competently manage our domestic affairs or our foreign policy. More and more, we are feared as a nation of fat and greedy imbeciles, led by a man who would be a disgrace to a Third World military dictatorship.
Those decals calling for God to bless us notwithstanding, it's a God damned country these days, damned by just about any God you might choose, and damned just about any way you choose to look at it. One nation, under God-damned-along with that other country we had to destroy in order to save it.