In 2001, Bart Simpson teamed up with his friends Milhouse, Nelson, and Ralph to form the boy band Party Posse and record a music video in which these boys of Springfield bomb a group of armed, hostile-looking Arabs. The song -- "Drop Da Bomb" -- is a weird pre-9/11 satire of American militarism. "There's trouble in a far-off nation/Time to get in love formation/Your love's more deadly than Saddam/That's why I gotta drop da bomb!" the boys sing.
Thirteen years later, the fake song -- nominally a recruitment video for the Navy -- is stirring up some real, albeit bizarre, controversy in Egypt. Egypt's al-Tahrir satellite TV channel aired a segment earlier this week claiming that the quartet predicted the current Syrian civil war. In the music video, the bearded, keffiyeh-wearing fighters targeted by the Party Posse stand next to a jeep emblazoned with what at the time was a fictitious Arabic-looking flag. That flag happens to be identical to the one adopted by the Syrian opposition. A female anchor on al-Tahrir, a privately owned channel, then made the only logical conclusion: The Simpsons segment raised real questions whether "what is happening in Syria today is premeditated."
If that sounds a little unreal, have a look at the video, courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute:
So because Bart and his gang bombed a group of Arabs standing next to a jeep bearing the flag of the Syrian opposition, the civil war in Syria was somehow manufactured by the West. "This is from 2001 -- before there was such a thing called the 'Syrian opposition,'" the anchor observes. "That's why people are saying on Facebook that this is a conspiracy."
But that's not the end of it: "This raises many question marks about what happened in the Arab Spring revolutions and about when this global conspiracy began."
Here's the same Simpsons clip, this time in English:
And in case you missed it, the chorus, sung by scantily clad, vaguely Arab-looking women, is just "join the Navy" spelled backward: "Yvan eht nioj."
The Middle East, of course, is famous for its conspiratorial thinking and a tendency to see the all-mighty hand of Uncle Sam in most political developments. Egypt is a particularly paranoid country, and many people genuinely believe that America's disastrous military adventures of the last decade represent nothing more than a grand plot to divide the Arab world and sow discontent between countries and ethnic groups.
By that logic, it may just be a matter of time before the United States is bombing the Syrian opposition into submission as well.