The Boys Return a Goat to Afghanistan and Discover that “Osama Bin Laden Has Farty Pants,” in South Park Episode 509

This is a great episode for a lot of reasons, both relating to American diplomacy and the perceptions of the U.S. abroad as well as what it is to be an American at such times. Despite being seven years old, the episode resonates with remarkable familiarity even today. The only difference is that we haven’t caught Osama bin Laden yet.

When Ms. Choksondick tells the students to send Afghan children $1 at the behest of President Bush, they do so. A few Afghan children then send the boys a goat in return because gift-giving is an important part of their culture. Unable to keep the goat, the boys try to send it back and end up on a military plane to Afghanistan with a goat that everybody thinks is Stevie Nicks set to play at the USO show.

The boys arrive with the goat, but the local Afghan children tell them to piss off and that they hate them for being Americans. Needless to say, these eight-year old boys just don’t understand. With yet another racial epithet, Cartman explains that Jawas (sand people) have no hearts. Later, unwilling to be mistaken for Canadian, Cartman gets the boys captured and taken to Osama Bin Laden’s lair where they are held for ransom.

The Afghan boys discover this injustice and go to rescue Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman. After all, they know the difference between right and wrong and have good hearts: they know that the boys are not to blame for any aspect of this terrible war and that they must help them.Interesting how this echoes of a conversation that I recently had over on a Quran Read-A-Long day post about only oppressing those who have oppressed you and not having the right to oppress anyone else. It seems that these boys’ Muslim upbringing has instilled this excellent since of justice in them.

Cartman decides to remain behind in order to deal with Osama Bin Laden, insisting that Osama’s not crazy, he’s just an idiot. The Bugs Bunny-Elmer Fudd spoof that ensues is priceless, and at the end of the episode, after the army goes in to save Miss Nicks, the boys are rescued and Osama shot in the head.

The mockery of Osama is great. The analysis of the world’s hatred of the U.S. is profound, and my favorite line is incredible. The U.S. General shouts to the troops, after learning of Stevie Nicks’ capture: “Grab your guns and your Bibles. We’re going to get Miss Nicks back.” Suffice it to say that the joining of those two weapons – the Bible and guns – makes for a poignant moment.

What did you think? What was your favorite part?

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