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Letter from America February 19, 2004
Mile High Jesus
By Mark Ames Browse author Email

One of the nicest things about going to airports in the United States is that it's the one place Americans stop pretending about how terrified they are -- the one place where they just act terrified and that's that. And nowhere is this fear more evident than in the area around the security gate. The reason is simple: you're not allowed to joke. I mean literally: signs tell you that if you even so much as fucking smirk, you're toast.

This wise-ass ban is devastating. Smiling and turning everything into a little joke is how cowardus americanus hides his daily terror. The quipping, wisecracking, corporate roasting, self-referential humor, self-deprecating quips, doubly-self-referential ironic quips about the irony about self-deprecating quips, the script about how you don't take things seriously, you're just having fun... these are the yellow-striped, smoke-and-mirrors lies that everyone here tells themselves and to each other to reinforce the one presiding, towering lie of all: the lie that Americans are not living in constant, daily, max'd-out fear.

Oh what a nice place American airports are. The one sane place you can count on here. If only that no-quipping zone could be extended to other parts of the country, under penalty of federal prison, I would consider moving back to this half-nursing-home, half-asylum that my country has become.

Flying in America is a good thing for the soul for a lot of reasons.

Take the recent scandal about the Christian pilot for American Airlines. It's really one of the funniest, sanest things that's happened in this country in a long time. What happened was that the pilot of an American Airlines flight started talking crazy Jesus shit shortly after takeoff. He asked the passengers, over the intercom, to raise their hands if they were Christians. Not that he could see who was or who wasn't -- pilots are locked and secured in their cockpits these days, armed and dangerous. It's the law.

After he got a tally of the Christian passengers -- he used the stewardesses to help him -- he started rambling on about how he'd found Christ. Not sure where exactly he found him -- in the business class lavatory? a cumulous cloud?...Does this make Jesus a member of the Mile High Club?

The great thing is that the pilot didn't stop there. He asked each of the passengers who didn't raise their Jesus-spiked hands to seek help from the nearest Christian lunatic in the plane.

You can imagine how passengers felt, the sane ones at least, listening to some crazed maniac blather on about some dead Jew with a messiah complex.

"The passengers feared for their safety." That's a direct quote from the reports.

But it gets better. "Passenger Amanda Nelligan told WCBS-TV of New York that the pilot called non-Christians 'crazy' and that his comments 'felt like a threat.' She said she and several others aboard were so worried they tried to call relatives on their cell phones before flight attendants assured them they were safe and that people on the ground had been notified about the pilot's comments."

Talk of Christ "felt like a threat."

Well, yes! No shit! Talk like that is often the first sign of a brain tumor, glioblastoma...You start talking about Jesus that way, and any doctor would be hard-pressed to give you more than nine months left to live. The tumor's already the size of a tangelo by that point.

But isn't this a perfect metaphor -- no, not metaphor, not analogy, but rather a perfect reconstruction of America today? A crazed Christian with his hands on the pilot controls, and enough of his cult freaks scattered throughout the jet as it goes careening around the shit we feel threatened! The whole fucking world feels threatened! The Baptists have control of the plane, and they might, on behalf of Jesus, crash the fucker into the first high-rise they see. After all, it's all been predicted in those asylum-ramblings of John and's plum' gotta be true!

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