What in hippie times in San Fransisco, and forever after in American histories of its manners and morals, was a phenom known as "the Summer of Love"; this phenom by all reports has arrived in Tehehran, Bogdude, Damselcause, and Baberoute. Yes, the young femmes fatales in tight skirts and the bawdy boys with long hair are partying in public and blasting party music and cuddling and violating the sanctimonious politicians who pretend to have nothing but sanctities on their minds. The lid has been kept on so tight for so long in these Islamic cities of repression - save only perhaps now in Baghdad!, but we shall see in due course - that many of the young want to play the Arabic musical video clips saturating the whole region and play them anywhere they can, in part to celebrate their sexuality (not fornication!, necessarily) and to flaunt their realities in the face of the denial-ridden and denial-imposing Satraps of Sorrow. In the West, you can violate in the public square my and the Christian community's desire for solemnity during Lent and the Easter season, but in the MidEast the Satraps can violoate everyone's pursuit of any expression of joy at any time or season of year. The one "out" from all this, until quite recently, has been the Arabic music videos. Of them, the Financial Times wrote recently, "Music videos are now the only uncensored mass cultural form in the Arab world." Here's what Steven Vincent says on the subject in National Review:
Lately, though, these cracks in the wall of Muslim Puritanism have taken on more serious dimensions. Sex and charismatic women have long formed a part of Arabic folklore — from The Arabian Nights to the proverbial belly dancer — but not until music videos did the Middle East, and more particularly, the region's teenagers, see such overt displays of female sexual power on their TV sets. At the same time, the U.S-led invasion of Iraq and the Orange and Cedar Revolutions in the Ukraine and Lebanon have created a cascade of reports depicting young people, particularly women, swept up in a kind of democratic fervor. Forget yesterday's banners of militant socialism, Arab nationalism, or pan-Islamism — today's hip images are a smiling woman with an ink-stained fingertip or a buxom beauty leaning out of a car, arms outstretched, Lebanese flag streaming overhead. Conveyed by the international media, the Internet, and SMS devices, these pictures combine concepts of women's liberation, social interaction between the sexes, and political freedom. The result is a potent new idea that goes beyond anything America "neoconservatives" could have hoped for: Democracy is exciting, it's cool — and most explosive of all, it's sexy.
Some time back, a brilliant ethical thinker and historian, Crane Brinton, wrote a book, A History of Western Morals in which he documented the pendular swings in the West, not least of all in the British culutral-zone inclusive of the USA, bewteen "puritans" and "libertines." The pendulum does not move as rapidly in the MidEast but it seems to have arrived at a still point in the puritanic extreme (as it had under the Taliban in Afganistan); but now with a vengence it is shuddering on its shaft and seems to want to swing wildly down to its bottom and then way up the other side to its most polar opposite extreme. I hope not, I pray not. I doubt that it could. I think the realities of family and good order will assuage those motions and temper those emotions that anything goes. I hope some of the horrible outcomes of the Free Love movement that hurt so many in the US and Britain don't get visited upon the now-exhilarated Persian and Arab youth shrugging off their chadors and strictures of puritoMuslim restraint in public. An outcome where there was less rape behind all that veiling would be sufficient. But as to the general mood of openness and willingness to be touched and to touch, how could I deny these exuberant youth those experiences during this Summer of Love, however short it may be? - Owlb