Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Swing Kids of Iran


News item this morning: Iranian police arrest six young people for posting a video of them dancing to the hit song from a children’s movie, “Happy,” by Pharrell Willliams.

His magical song in Despicable Me 2 has sparked videos all over the world of happy people gyrating to the catchy beat.

Sadly, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, under its own brand of sharia law, it’s illegal for women to dance in public. The stuffy mullahs think dancing spreads our “decadent” culture.

(Obviously these empty turbans don’t know the worst of it. If they want to see real Western decadence they should come to the San Fernando Valley, where 90 percent of porn movies get filmed. But, I digress.)

The news story of the arrests of the youthful Iranian shoe-shufflers reminded me of another time, eighty years ago, when a despot also ordered arrests of young people for dancing.

His name was Adolf Hitler.

The Swing Kids as they were known in Germany in the 1930s loved American music, dressed in brightly colored clothes and had longer hair. They couldn’t arabesque but, they sure could shake ’em down. They danced the outrageously nimble jitterbug, and were so bold as to let one girl dance with two boys. The Swing Kids loved Louis Armstrong tunes. That really got under you-know-whose skin because Adolf “Everything Aryan” Hitler hated black people.

About the same time the kids were swinging, Hitler ordered formation of Hitler Youth. Boys from 14 to 18 had to join the national military-like, indoctrination organization, and females joined Girl’s Federation.

The groups amounted to Nazi catechism.

The largely apolitical Swing Kids, who hated Hitler Youth’s drab colors and buzzed haircuts, kept on dancing as a kind of protest. At first they jitterbugged in public. But after a police crackdown, they only danced in clubs. In 1941, Hitler had had enough of these whirling dervishes. His goose-stepping minions arrested more than 300 Swing Kids, sending some off to concentration camps. To show how petty Hitler could get, he even ordered haircuts for them.

Did it stop them? His strong-armed tactics backfired when arrests of the Swing Kids inspired young Germans to oppose National Socialism’s hegemony, and, we all know what happened to clumsy-toed Hitler.

So, young Iranians, keep on dancing.

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