“I’m a Little Bit Country,” 701, is South Park’s Episode about War

The outcome of this episode is classic South Park, through and through. Why? Because it emphasizes the Middle Ground and everyone’s right to his or her opinion, insisting that we need everyone’s opinions to have the best of both worlds. Indeed, that’s what makes our country great.

Frankly, I think that everyone should watch this episode so I’m not going to spoil all of the juicy goodness. I am, however, going to give you a spoiler alert for the following quote which is pretty much the episode’s summary. Cartman says:

“This country was founded by some of the smartest thinkers the world has ever seen, and they knew one thing: that a truly great country could go to war and at the same time – act like it doesn’t want to. You people who are for the war: you need the protesters, because they make the country look like it’s full of sane, caring individuals. And you people who are anti-war, you need these flagwavers, because if our whole country was made up of soft pussy protesters, we’d get taken down in a second. That’s why the founding fathers decided we should have both. It’s called having your cake and eating it too.”

What great stuff! South Park makes me feel like such a patriot, and as a Penn alumni, I love anything that mentions Benjamin Franklin, who makes a special guest appearance on this episode.

Did you see it? What did you think? Who’s your favorite founding father? Are you for or against the war? Despite your opinion, do you appreciate the importance of having the opinion of the other side and of living in a country where you can express yourself as you please?

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A Military Helicopter as Santa’s Sleigh – Do You Think They Saw South Park’s “Red Sleigh Down?”

I just saw the following picture:

Military Copter as Santa's Sleigh

Military Copter as Santa's Sleigh

Do you know what it made me think of? Nothing other than South Park, and in particular, episode 618, “Red Sleigh Down.” Why?

That episode is one of the most amazing ever. Santa goes to Iraq in order to spread the Christmas spirit to a part of the world sorely in need of some holiday cheer, and Iraqis shoot his sleigh down and then torture him.

The boys, in an attempt to rescue Santa, find Jesus who then busts into the Iraqi compound and saves old Saint Nick. However, on the way out of the compound, Jesus is shot and killed, making Christmas a day to remember how Jesus saved us and then died for us. Truly, it’s a sensational episode.

Rather than flee Iraq, though, Santa turns around and starts shooting missiles at Baghdad, not actually destroying anything, but missiles that explode holiday decorations, presents and cheer all over the city. I was looking at a bunch of “funny” photos from the Iraq War (and yes, yes, I know there’s nothing funny about war but you can check them out yourself by clicking HERE) and since this one reminded me so much of South Park I just had to share. However, I doubt this helicopter was shooting missiles filled with holiday cheer, though maybe it wasn’t dropping presents and aid and not just some sick, twisted joke.

Do you agree with the connection I’ve made between this picture and the episode? Do you like that episode?

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In the News: Protestants and Catholics Still Over Centuries-Long War

U.S. President George W. Bush has just gone to the Vatican where he was welcomed warmly by Pope Benedict XVI. That is, an evangelical leader of the free/WASP/non-Catholic world (perhaps that’s giving a lot of credit to Bush, but allow it for the sake of comparison, please) has met with the Pope, the spiritual leader of the world’s billion or so Catholics.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to not the sixteenth century.

Now, of course, pope’s and U.S. presidents have been meeting for years now, and the Catholic Church and the Protestant world (though it isn’t so easily grouped in a unified way as Catholicism) have long since made amends…effectively. I for one, would like to state quite clearly how awesome that is.

We really take for granted in our day how wonderful it is that there is a relative amount of unity, a high degree of peace and a general disregard for the differences between Catholics and Protestants. The Christian world is pretty much A-ok on an inter-denominational basis. Sure, the Christian and Muslim worlds are effectively at war (though I neither believe that it is as ubiquitous as I have made it sound nor as dichotomized as Christian v. Muslim), but it’s great that Catholic-Protestant relations are at the height of their strength. Why am I harping on this issue, you ask?

Well, it really wasn’t like that for a very long time. The Puritan roots of this country can be traced back to a need to escape the Anglican Church because it was too close to and corrupted with popery – or Catholicism – Puritans claimed. People in the colonies hated, persecuted and banned Catholics in various places for a very long time. Life as a Catholic in America wasn’t easy for a while. Now, can I blame Protestants (back-in-the-day Protestants, that is), for being terrified of and hating Catholics? Considering the Church’s history and the way it treated dissenters, no, I really can’t, but let me be frank: relations never had to normalize.

Wars between Catholics and Protestants in Europe were on an unimaginable scale, comparable to parts of the crusades, in certain areas of Europe killing up to a third of the population (sometimes more deadly than the Black Plague), and many people believed that Catholic and Protestant countries would never be at peace with one another. Slowly but surely, however, countries realized that interests other than religion set them at odds with one another and unified them with each other, and today, in our post-industrial, post-Cold War, newly hyper-globalized world, issues like whether you are a Protestant or Catholic country are really not the issues at hand. And that’s spectacular.

But then again, we’re not talking about countries, per se. The Holy See may be a country, but at the end of the day, it’s the Roman Catholic Church through and through, and I still think it’s awesome that an evangelical Protestant leader and the pope can greet each other warmly and genuinely, get along, discuss their common goals and interests (even if, unfortunately, some of those happen to be banning abortion and stem-cell research and continuing to promote abstinence – issues we will get to in due time, I’m sure), and be so friendly. It’s important, and not what one would expect after a few centuries of animosity and wars. If in the seventeenth century you’d asked who a Christian’s biggest enemy was, he’d say, a Catholic – never a Muslim, a Democrat or Oprah Winfrey or anything like that (don’t you love topical humor!).

So, that’s my thouhgt: we shouldn’t take for granted that the Protestant and Catholic worlds are effectively at peace (save a few small pockets of course), and when U.S. Presidents and Popes are hanging out together, we should appreciate that we’ve come a long way since the Thirty-Years War.

Note about tomorrow’s post: I will be posting in the afternoon because tomorrow is Movie/Book review day and I am going to see a matinée of The Happening. I have pretty low expectations but a close friend is a screenwriter of horror movies so we’re going – let’s see if it can break the low bar I’ve set. Check back tomorrow afternoon for the review of The Happening.