Some Iranian apologists and propagandists pretend that phenomena like the “Happy” videos show that Iranians are really having fun after all, but this is a ruse. These are protest videos–music, especially Western music, is forbidden in Iran, just as it was in Talibanic Afghanistan–and the happy people are politically threatening to the regime, like the Saudis who celebrate Valentine’s Day threaten the stability of the kingdom. And it’s significant that other “Happy” videos keep showing up on YouTube. It bespeaks the depth of the contempt in which most Iranians hold their rulers, and the regime’s rapid response, whether arresting the Happy people or demanding flogging and imprisonment for the actress who gave a formalistic kiss on the cheek of an eighty-year old at the Cannes Film Festival, shows that Khamenei and his henchmen know it and fear it.
It is no accident that women are singled out for special degradation by the armies waging war on fun, for the Muslim world rests on a solid foundation of misogyny. My professional career has been mostly devoted to the study of evil, including terrorism, fascism, Nazism and communism. That’s a lot of evil people, but I never found anything like the systematic rape of female death-row prisoners in Iranian prisons. Not even the Nazis in the death camps were so avid in humiliating their victims. Nor did I find the sort of systematic repression of women that abounds in so much of the Muslim world.
Like the reflexive attacks on the Happy people and the Valentine lovers, such actions betray fear that the people–especially the women–if left to their own devices would bring down the oppressive regimes. Which is why, as I have said for so long, women are the most revolutionary group in the Muslim Middle East.
The tyrants can’t risk granting freedom to fun lovers, especially if they are women, so the fun lovers are targeted, rounded up, incarcerated, tortured and often murdered. So long as that goes on, there is no hope for the Muslim world, nor for its best citizens.