After all that comes Globe, Ariz. And in Globe, there's a billboard the size of an average playground, with its background a billowing American flag admonishing, beseeching or perhaps even ejaculating, "God Bless America." Since my son wouldn't let me play anymore Radiohead CDs, I got to thinking. (For readers puzzled by the unique use of the word "ejaculate," see the note at the bottom.)
If God is just and loving ... if God is kind, merciful, beneficent or any of the other fantabulous things he's supposed to be, why in the hell should He bless America?
Because blessing America is a little like giving some Asian despot yet another golden toilet to shit in. He doesn't need it; he's already got one, and he could have shit just as well in a regular old toilet anyway. Logically speaking, if there's a God, and if any one country has already been blessed to high heaven, then that country must be the good old U.S. of A.
For the most part, we've got food, televisions, microwave ovens, cable TV, cheap clothing, heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. We've got cars, boats, trucks and SUVs. We believe it's our God-given right to gas up at will, or if not, go to war. In other words, Americans don't need God's blessing. What most of us need, like the aforementioned despot, is a good spanking.
No, if God is good, he should bless, ah, Somalia first. Somalia's got an adult literacy rate of 17 percent, no political stability, ongoing warfare, endemic malaria and, of course, massive starvation. The infant mortality rate is the highest in the world. The average Somali has a yearly income of about $230.
If God is handing out blessings, Somalia should definitely be in line in front of us.
Or how about Albania? Nobody ever talks about Albania, yet there it is, right near the front of the alphabet. It's been invaded by the Greeks, Turks, Italians and Russians. It's got an unstable government, a 20 percent unemployment rate, massive inflation, drug trafficking and a mafia that makes the Russians look like pantywaists. On average, it's one of the poorest European states. If you have a telephone in Albania, you're considered hoity-toity. If it's connected to a functioning telecommunications network, none of your neighbors will even say good morning to you.
I'd put Albania behind Somalia, but still in front of the United States in the blessing line.
Or, a little closer to home, how about Mexico? It's got a stagnant economy, no jobs, half of the population living below the poverty line and endemic typhoid. Believe you me, gringos aren't the only ones who get sick from drinking Mexican water. Even though President Vicente Fox did his best, the Mexican people and economy were ravaged by the corruption and greed of the PRI for so long that they may never recover.
If it were me handing out the blessings, I'd put Mexico after Albania, but definitely before the United States. Somalia still gets to be first in line.
This blessing thing, it's gotta be need-based, doesn't it? If not, what's the point? If God only blesses already blessed people, who needs Him?
If those people in Globe were really godly, they'd put up a "God Bless Somalia" sign. Underneath, they'd write: "Pretty please, with sugar on top."
(Oh, about "ejaculation": The first definition in the Oxford English Dictionary is "to utter suddenly, as in a prayer or other emotion." Most people hear "ejaculate" and think sex. In contrast were the nuns on my father's school bus in the 1940s who only knew definition one, and used to tell the boys that upon passing a holy shrine, it was incumbent upon them to get down on their knees and make an "ejaculation." They absolutely loved this.)
This column originally appeared in Tucson Weekly.