“Europeans tend to be surprised, or amused, when U.S. politicians end a speech with the words “God bless America.” “When they hear that, the intellectuals break out in a little smug smile,” says Jonathan Freedland, a columnist with London’s Guardian newspaper. “It’s almost impossible to imagine a prime minister saying ‘God bless Britain’ or ‘God bless Sweden.’ “” [The Washington Post on declining church attendance in Western Europe.]
The last time anyone prominently said “God bless Austria”, not much blessing was returned from the Higher Regions: T’was the last Austrian chancellor before Austria joined the Third Reich, Kurt Schuschnigg, on the radio, March 11, 1938. A saying that every (?) schoolkid here learns as imbued with patriotic sentiment over the loss of one’s home country to Evil Invaders; a statement we learn as completely stripped of political context and content. After all, Kurt Schuschnigg, former minister of justice and education in the Austro-Fascist government of Engelbert Dollfuß, had been a leading figure in an authoritarian government that aimed not only to keep the Nazis out but also to keep Socialists down. And of course there were Nazis in Austria before 1938. And of course many Austrians cheered over joining the Third Reich.
Asking for blessings sometimes reveals the asker to be in a quite ambivalent position. Like when you fucked up completely and don’t know where else to turn – might be a blessing not to ask for blessings after all. Which is, of course, not a comment on any aspect of US-politics at all.