Cartman and Kyle Argue Over Jew-Gold in South Park Episode 908, “Two Days Before The Day After Tomorrow”

The Day After Tomorrow – blech what a craptastic movie. “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow” – what an awesome episode.

When Stan and Cartman wreck a dam with a stolen speedboat, thereby flooding a town in a valley below the dam, the entire country freaks out that global warming has caused this flooding and everyone starts panicking. I’ve already explored some of South Park‘s thoughts and skepticism about global warming in my post on episode 1006, “Manbearbig” and in episode 505, “Terrance and Phillip Behind the Blow,” so I will refrain from elaborating in great detail here except for to say that, to whatever degree Trey Parker and Matt Stone appreciate the importance of not obliterating the environment, they don’t wholly subscribe to the terror of global warming.

In any case, despite mocking global warming fanatics, this episode is particularly memorable for a hilarious exchange between Kyle and Cartman when they are trapped in a collapsing and burning building in the flooded town. Cartman refuses to allow Kyle to pass him and move to safety on the roof of the building where a helicopter awaits unless Kyle cedes his Jew-gold. What is Jew-gold, you ask? It is the bag of gold that all Jews carry in a small sack around their necks.

Obviously, Kyle contests the notion that he has such a thing or that it even exists, and what is even more hilarious than the banter between the two is when Kyle finally reveals the Jew-gold and gives it to Cartman. The ridiculousness of this scenario exposes the absurdity of many anti-Semitic beliefs, like that Jews used to use Christian blood to make their matzas, a Middle Ages belief called blood libels.

Mmmmm, matza.

What did you think about this episode? What was your favorite part?

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The Jewish and Christian Liturgical Calendars Offer Conflicting Emotions In Spring

Check out my latest Nashville Free Press column about the Jewish and Christian calendars at this time of year and the way we’re supposed to be exploring the emotionality of Spring.

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The Catholic Bishop Holocaust Denier Is Making the News and, ba-da-da-da-da, I’m Lovin’ It

Find out why in my latest column in the Nashville Free Press! Click HERE.

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Kyle’s Cousin Comes to Town and Mr. Garrison Solves the Airline Problems in South Park Episode 511, “The Entity”

This episode is all about Jewish stereotypes, and rather than portray them in a totally uninteresting way, South Park does a fascinating job of bringing them to the forefront. Kyle’s Cousin, Kyle (who I will call KC) comes from Connecticut to live with Kyle and his family, and he is a walking, talking, breathing Jewish stereotype. He is nerdy looking, obsessed with money and bargains and constantly complains.

Unable to stand the idea that KC is destroying all the hard work he’d done making a good name for Jews in South Park, Kyle does his best to get rid of his cousin. Kyle is terrified of becoming a stereotype himself.

“A self-hating Jew,” Stan exclaims. “You are becoming a stereotype.”

In the meantime, Mr. Garrison, finally fed up with the bullshit of the airlines and hell at the airport, invents a device called the Entity, which travels so fast that it eliminates the need for air travel. Incidentally, the seat goes up your butt and the controller is a shaft held in the mouth. Unfortunately for his brilliant invention the U.S. government refuses to let the airlines go under and shuts Mr. Garrison down.

This episode is a brilliant critique of the government’s protectionism and continually failed policies to help the American people while potentially doing them an enormous disservice and pissing them off. Reminds me of something particularly relevant that’s going on right now…

The end of the episode includes a brilliant message delivered through KC, but you’ll have to watch it to find out what it is.

What did you think of this episode and its current topicality? What was your favorite part?

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Ike Broflovski is Taken to Saddam Hussein’s Canada in South Park Episode 715, “Christmas in Canada”

When Ike Broflovski’s birth-parents interrupt quiet, family Hanukah prayers and insist on taking Ike back to Canada by decree of the new Canadian Prime Minister, Sheila and Gerald Broflovski are devastated. Cartman tells Kyle that this is what he gets for being Jewish at Christmas time: some Jesus revenge. In a show of unprecedented good faith, the South Park townsfolk offer to forgo Christmas gift-giving and donate all of their money to the Broflovskis for legal fees to take their case to Canada.

Rather than lose Christmas, the boys decide to help Kyle go to Canada and confront the Canadian Prime Minister about taking Ike. The whole time they want to hurry back to South Park, though, so that they are sure not to miss out on any Christmas adventures. Funny, since they are traversing Canada by foot after their plane crashed and confronting all sorts of weird and wacky characters Wizard of Oz style (with Scott, the dickhead Canadian as the Wicked Witch).

As their plane is crashing (it’s piloted by the same guy who owns City Wok and is called City [Shitty] Airlines), the pilot tells them: “As you can see it appears that we are going down. Now would be a good time to reflect on your life and pray to whatever deity you believe in.”

At the end of the episode, Kyle speaks about the importance of family and who we love and explains to the Canadian Prime Minister – who turns out to be the escaped Saddam Hussein! – that, “Family isn’t about whose blood you have in you. Family’s about the people who cared about you and took care of you. We’re not the same blood, but I love my little brother. We’ve taken care of him because he needed us to, and that makes us more family than anything.”

Very touching and a lovely Christmas episode.

What do you think? What was your favorite part?

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Satanic Forest Creatures Try To Bring the AntiChrist in South Park Episode 814, “Woodland Critter Christmas”

If anyone recalls this episode, he or she will surely agree that it is a disturbing one. The whole thing is told in rhyming couplets after the fashion of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Stan functions as the main character.

Walking through the forest, he stumbles across some woodland critters, each of whom seems goofy and innocent, and who collectively implore him to help save their Christmas by murdering the Mountain Lion that continues to kill the porcupine’s baby year after year. Unaware of what he is doing, Stan does so, but as it turns out – what!? there’s a twist!? – the Mountain Lion was the protector of the world and preventing the Spawn of Satan (aka the antiChrist) from being born. That’s right: Satan was doing the porcupine and the baby was going to be the antiChrist. How exciting!

When Stan then tries to stop this hellaciousness, the woodland critters, possessed demons that they are, use their satanic powers to stop him. They even kill other creatures and then have sex in their blood. “Blood Orgy!!” It is sick and twisted, and what we learn when Kyle later agrees to be the host of the antiChrist so that the Jews can finally have their revenge on Christmas, is that the entire story is made up and being told by Cartman as another way to rip on Kyle at Christmas for being Jewish.

As we learn during the Imaginationland episodes when the most f-ed up thing to come from the evil side of Imaginationland is the Woodland Christmas Critters, we sure wouldn’t want to meet the kid that thought those things up!

What do you think of this episode? What was your favorite part?

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Around the World Pic: Jewish Cemetery in Prague

jewish-cemetary-prague1

During my European travels I went to a lot of Jewish sites, a lot of churches, and any Mosque that I was fortunate enough to find. I love going into religious building and locations around the world. One thing that’s always easy enough to find is the Jewish cemetery, because all the Jews are always buried there since the community was only given one small plot of land for such things.

The particular cemetery in the photo I took above is located in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic – and it’s right in the middle of the city.

In this Jewish cemetery, as in others throughout Europe, people were buried one on top of the other, separated by approximately 6-18 inches of dirt. Then their tombstones were places one in front of the other. Why? No space for all the dead people! When you walk around the cemetery this makes for a particularly interesting look as tomb stones many hundreds of years old are leaning on each other and crammed together in ways hardly seen in more ‘modern’ graveyards.

Of additional note is the fact that this cemetery is filled with very important Jewish rabbis and wise men because Prague was a huge Jewish center both as a community and a place of learning. People went to Prague from all over the Jewish world to learn with its scholars and rabbis and to see a place of such renown. People stood at the graves of many of these famous men and prayed.

Care to share your experiences with us about visiting different cemetaries?

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Around the World Pic: A Jewish Cemetery in Tangier, Morocco

Years ago my friend Peter and I went to North Africa for a bit, and made a week-long stop in Morocco. We took an 18 hour bus (not the tourist one, the Arab one) down the coast of Spain from Barcelona all the way to a port in the south of Spain. It was the most horrible bus ride of all time and I’ve been on buses for longer (19 hours being the longest: Tallin, Estonia to Krakow, Poland).

Then we spent three hours floating across the Straights of Gibraltar until we arrive in Tangier, a port town in the north of Morocco. Peter received the following sunburn after falling asleep on the deck of the boat with his arm exposed:

We paid a cab driver to drive us around until our train out that afternoon (that’s the best way to see a lot of a Moroccan city in one day), and one stop we made was at this weird Jewish cemetery where I can be seen here inappropriately standing on top of a coffin. Tasteful, I know.

The person guarding the cemetery wasn’t Jewish and didn’t speak Hebrew. Some of the tombs were very old and many were from people whose families had left Morocco a long time ago but because they had always felt a connection to this city, they wanted to be buried here. The Jews had various successful stints in Morocco.

Have you ever been to Morocco? To Tangier? What did you think?

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A Dead Jiggling Baby Fetus Adorns the Nurse in “Conjoined Fetus Lady,” South Park Episode 205

What a silly episode. One theme, as you may recall, is the children playing dodgeball on the international level. Simultaneously, Sheila Broflovski has decided to have a week honoring the school nurse, who has Conjoined Twin Myslexia, a disease that means a dead fetus, which was once her identical twin, exists somewhere in her body. Because this is South Park, that place is her head.

When Kyle is sent to the nurse’s office and sees her dead, protruding, jiggling twin, he is terrified and tells the other boys how gross it is. Sheila Broflovski overhears the boys and wants to teach them about acceptance; thus, she persuades Principle Victoria and Mr. Mackey to join her for a dinner with the nurse.

Mr. Mackey asks whether or not they’re going to have to eat kosher food at the Broflovski household and later that evening he asks if someone can please pass the pork. Curious considering that the Broflovskis are decidedly Jewish and Mr. Broflovski even wears a kipa (a.k.a yarmulke, which is the small Jewish head-covering). Though plenty of Jews enjoy pork, despite pig being unkosher (against Jewish dietary laws), very few who are religious enough to wear kipas (pl. is actually kipot) will eat pig. Interesting.

I do like the theme of acceptance, but the episode teaches us that it’s important to learn that acceptance is great, but the essence of people being accepted is treating them like everyone else. Throwing week long events honoring them for their bravery at being different and standing out is not treating them normally and accepting them.

What did you think of this episode?

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Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 87-97 Alludes to the Problem with Jewish Chosenness

Since this entire passage seems to me to discuss how the Jews don’t believe in revelations that came after the Torah despite their verification of the Jews’ own text, I’m going to focus only on verse 94, which concerns, I think, chosenness. Please feel free to comment on any other part of this passage, however, as it’s all up for discussion.

The Idea of Chosenness

Jews believe that they are the chosen people. Apparently, they were elected by God way back in the day to possess a certain land and forever be God’s chosen and consecrated people. Personally, I don’t live way back in the day – though I may recall it frequently in anecdotes and such – but rather, I live today. What’s important to me are the concerns that we face today and how to make today a better place.

Living in the Now

Many people don’t share those concerns to the extreme that I do, which isn’t to say that they’re not interested in present day issues as much as to say that they’re not concerned with them to the exclusion of what was once important. I am. Some see that as a flaw or as foolishness, but it’s just who I am. I very rarely see the value of preserving tradition solely for the sake of tradition and particularly if it’s detrimental to modern concerns and progress.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t value and respect tradition and the past. After all, I’m trained as a historian and I love studying and understanding religion (hence, The Zen of South Park). However, I’m not attached to ideas or traditions from the past so much so that I can’t give them up to make the world a better place. Most people aren’t with me on that, and I can appreciate that.

The Problem with Chosenness

The idea of being chosen by God, I think, is a dangerous notion. Chosenness implies elitism and a “better than others-ness” that I find pernicious to people’s ability to interact, coexist and progress. How can we talk to one another knowing that the other considers his race/religion/ethnicity/family superior to everyone else’s – and I don’t just mean to have its general advantages and qualities (which is probably okay) but that he believes that he has been chosen by God as an elect?

That’s a pretty twisted notion and makes mutual dialogue difficult. I constantly struggle with the idea of chosenness because I dislike it when people think that there’s something innately special about themselves that is not so in others – that birth precedes merit. This idea manifests itself in many forms throughout the world, but is quite apparent in the notion of Jewish chosenness – the suggestion that only the Jews are God’s chosen people.

Summary

Now, this passage doesn’t provide a flattering portrayal of the Jews, considering that it lambasts them for rejecting these very words which verify the truth of the Torah, and I must point out that my own sentiments on the matter of chosenness do not follow this general thread of condemnation. However, I found the larger point here – that the Jews stick to the Torah and its notion of chosenness to the exclusion of others being able to reach God, which is a patently absurd idea (that we can’t all be with God in the afterlife) – that I find it damaging and unhelpful and wanted to speak out about it myself.

What do you think of this passage? Do you have anything to add? What do you think of the idea of chosenness, whether in this particular instance as it relates to the Jews or in its general application to so many people’s understanding of themselves and their people as supremely special?

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The Cow: 87-97

87. Remember We gave Moses the Book and sent after him many an apostle; and to Jesus, son of Mary, We gave clear evidence of the truth, reinforcing him with divine grace. Even so, when a messenger brought to you what did not suit your mood you turned haughty, and called some imposters and some others you slew. 88. And they say: “Our hearts are enfolded in covers.” In fact God has cursed them for their unbelief; and only a little do they believe. 89. And when the Book was sent to them by God verifying what had been revealed to them already – even though before it they used to pray for victory over the unbelievers – and even though they recognized it when it came to them, they renounced it. The curse of God be on those who deny! 90. They bartered their lives ill denying revelation of God out of spite that God should bestow His grace among His votaries on whomsoever He will, and thus earned wrath upon wrath. The punishment for disbelievers is ignominious. 91. And when it is said to them: “believe in what God has sent down,” they say: “We believe what was sent to us, and do not believe what has come thereafter,” although it affirms the truth they possess already. Say: “Why have you then been slaying God’s apostles as of old, if you do believe?” 92. Although Moses had come to you with evidence of the truth, you chose the calf in his absence, and you transgressed. 93. Remember when We took your pledge and exalted you on the Mount (saying: ) “Hold fast to what We have given you, firmly, and pay heed,” you said: “We have heard and will not obey.” (The image of) the calf had sunk deep into their hearts on account of unbelief. Say: “Vile is your belief if you are believers indeed!” 94. Tell them: “If you think you alone will abide with God to the exclusion of the rest of Mankind, in the mansions of the world to come, then wish for death if what you say is true.” 95. But they will surely not wish for death because of what they had done in the past; and God knows the sinners well. 96. You will see they are covetous of life more than other men, even more than those who practice idolatry. Each one of them desires to live a thousand years, although longevity will never save them from punishment, for God sees all they do.