A group of young Iranians showed their “Happy” side by dancing in a video to Pharrell Williams catchy smash hit song.


Unfortunately, I guess being happy is illegal in Iran. Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars joined me this morning to talk about this truly sad story.

Three men and three women danced unveiled to Pharrell Williams’ smash hit in a video that was widely shared on social media, garnering over 30,000 views before it was taken down. Copies have been quickly re-uploaded as news of the arrest has broken, sparking the hashtag #FreeHappyIranians.

Many Iranians praised their joyful video, but it was met with censure by the conservative religious forces which have ruled Iran since the Revolution in 1979.

“After a vulgar clip which hurt public chastity was released in cyberspace, police decided to identify those involved in making that clip,” Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia told the ISNA News Agency, according to ABC.

Footage from Iranian state TV appears to show seven men and one woman being interrogated about the video, which is shown in the clip with the dancers blurred out.The BBC reported that the exact number of detainees has not been released.

That’s what happens in a theocracy, where religious laws trump common sense. Sadly, that’s how many other countries are ruled, but here in the US, we know better, right? Wrong..

We have a Supreme Court who, just over a week ago, decided that the separation of church and state isn’t really that important, but allowing Christian zealots to push their religious rites on all who attend public meetings is just alright with them.

In a few weeks, they’ll give their decision in the Hobby Lobby case, in which the owners of a corporation are trying to push their religious beliefs on the employees of the corporation, basically saying that the corporation (a person) has religious beliefs that cannot be infringed upon by a requirement that health insurance offers contraceptive coverage because, well, religion.

Yes, the Republican Party wants to legislate morality. Thank goodness there are people like Rev. William Barber who are explaining what morality really is. The man behind the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina that are spreading around the nation, when receiving the Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award from the Campaign for America’s Future last November, explained what true morality is about.

We believe there must be a direct challenge to the so-called moral framework of extremism, paid for by tea party and Koch money and Art Pope money … and the ultra conservative moral framework that says moral issues are limited to praying in the schools and abortion rights and homosexuality. We believe this is both hypocritical and heretical.

We believe there must be a direct challenge to this limitation. We must declare without retreat that our constitutional values establishing justice, promoting the general welfare, the common good, the good of the whole, must be the critique and at the center of every public policy decision. And the moral values of doing justice and loving mercy and caring for the least of these and lifting the poor and healing the sick and welcoming the stranger and uplifting children and declaring as the prophets of old said, “Woe unto those who legislate evil and rob the poor of their rights,” or to say as Jesus said, “When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was naked, did you clothe me? When I was sick, did you visit me?”.

This framework must be at the center of our public policy life. Because within this framework, economic sustainability is a moral issue. Budgets are moral issues. Health care is a moral issue. Living wages is a moral issue. Voting rights is a moral issue. Rights of our immigrants friends is a moral issue. Womens rights is a moral issue. Treating our LGBT friends with respect and dignity, and not hate and disdain, is a moral issue.

We say to the so-called Christian right that is often so wrong, your actions have been weighed in the balance. We love you, but you are not the true conservatives – we are, because we want to conserve the essence of faith and that is love and justice and righteousness and mercy.

Which brings us to Populism.

Populism is a political doctrine that appeals to the interests and conceptions (such as fears) of the general people, especially contrasting those interests with the interests of the elite.


There are more of us who believe in progressive ideals than there are on the other side. The majority in this nation believe in taking care of one another, raising the minimum wage, and other moral standards that Rev. Barber spoke about. How to engage those people is the issue.

My friend Dave Johnson is a fellow at the  Campaign for America’s Future, and he joined me this morning to talk about two ways they’re working to promote the new populism.  First up, The New Populism Conference happening tomorrow in Washington DC, streaming live, featuring speakers from Senator Elizabeth Warren to Rev. William Barber to Congressman Keith Ellison to Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Bernie Sanders and more.

And, they’ve launched a new website too: PopulistMajority.org, which will give you all the facts you need to back you up when speaking truth to power!

More tomorrow… radio or not!