What is the correct response when you’re a rock star, nearly 90 of your fans have been murdered in front of your eyes by Jihadist terrorists, and you yourself have had to go to hospital to have removed from your face the embedded teeth and skull splinters of the girl just in front of you who had her head blown apart by a hollow-nosed bullet?
Well, thanks to the music press, the Guardian and the organisers of at least two rock festivals in France we know that the correct answer, the only answer, goes something like this:
“Islam is a religion of peace. That’s why I know in my heart that this atrocity had nothing to do with Islam. The fact that the gunmen were shouting Allahu Akhbar as they machinegunned the audience – in those moments when they weren’t pausing to torture the poor guys in wheelchairs or finish off the wounded – was entirely coincidental. Also, I would like to pay especial tribute to those Muslim members of the security staff who, instead of joining in with the killers, acted with amazing generosity by opening the exit doors so that some of the audience could get away…”
Unfortunately, Jesse Hughes of Eagles Of Death Metal didn’t give the correct answer regarding his experiences at the Bataclan massacre in Paris in November last year.
He doesn’t want to prettify what happened; he does think it was caused by a clash between a kind of surrender-monkey Western liberalism and militant Islamic ideology.
Which is why he has had his shows cancelled by the organisers of two French rock festivals and why he is now the subject of an angry letter to the Guardian by a Muslim fan who attended the Bataclan gig accusing Hughes of “fucking dangerous” stupidity in his remarks about Islam.
The letter begins:
I just finished reading your tacky Taki interview and to tell you the truth, my heart is bleeding. I postponed reading it, thinking: “What’s the news, can’t be worse than the others, we’re used to it”. It is worse, and there’s no way in hell we will ever get used to this.
I love your music, your concerts mostly (such fun, wild shows) and man, I never thought that you would become one of those spreaders of fear. Fox News, Trump, all those guys. You always felt like a maverick, a rebel: we now know that you are not. We (and by that I mean the rebels, the mavericks, the rock crowd) always loved and defended you because you were a lovable fool and kind of a dumb fuck, like the Three Stooges or Tex Avery’s wolf. You now proved your stupidity to be fucking dangerous.
It first appeared on Facebook and is almost certain to go viral because paragraphs like the following accord so totally with what the world’s righteous youth want to believe about peace, love, racism, Islamophobia and stuff.
You say Islam is the problem. I say: “All you fucking bigots and your fairytale shit stories are the problem. Racism and refusal to recognize one another as complex (more complex than ethnicity or race can explain) human beings is the problem. Reducing others to what you think you know is the problem.” You saw those guys the other night. Those marble-eye, brainwashed, horrible assassin motherfuckers were unable to even recognize a fellow human face. Dude, don’t be like that. Just don’t. Don’t imagine that you are facing that awful fundamentalist deathwave alone. Because this is the world we live in now, and we’re all in this shit together. Muslims and Arabs are caught up in it with you, they face dying a random, stupid death like you.
If you haven’t read the interview in Taki Mag with Gavin McInnes that prompted this, you really must. It’s mainly an extremely graphic account of what happened that night at the Bataclan gig from the perspective of a guy standing on the stage.
You get some very nasty detail:
The terrorists would go up to bodies and stick them with the gun. If they budged, they’d shoot them again. One girl got up and said she was scared. The guy said, “Don’t be scared, you’ll be dead in two minutes,” and then he shot her, BOOM.
I had pieces of teeth and human bone pulled out of my face. A girl got shot right next to me by the shooter at the top of the stairs who I had met earlier. She stepped one step in front of me and her head just exploded. It blew pieces of her teeth and skull into my face.
The mainstream press – and the music press – had every opportunity to extract this information from Jesse Hughes. As he tells his interviewer, he’s not holding back because he finds the experience cathartic. But weirdly till this interview in a conservative journal, no one did: almost as if it didn’t fit in with the post-Paris narrative that ‘yes, it was awful, but let’s not dwell on it because we should move on.’
Hughes, clearly, doesn’t think we should move on. There are questions which remain unanswered – not least the role of the Muslim security staff, some of whom he says were clearly in on the plan (a claim Bataclan’s owners have furiously denounced).
But his bigger beef is with the denialism, wishful thinking and kumbaya mentality that make the West so vulnerable to such attacks.
They know there’s a whole group of white kids out there who are stupid and blind. You have these affluent white kids who have grown up in a liberal curriculum from the time they were in kindergarten, inundated with these lofty notions that are just hot air. Look at where it’s getting them.
What’s so depressing about the response to Hughes’s interview – the silence of the music press, the ban by the two French concert promoters and now this letter in the Guardian – is that it all proves so perfectly the point he was making.
Amazingly – well, actually, entirely predictably – the author of that letter to the Guardian appears to be more upset by Hughes’s failure to mouth liberal pieties than he does by the fact that a group of his co-religionists thought it would be a good idea to murder 89 of the people next to him at a gig.
In his letter, the angry fan – Ismael El Iraki – points to the fact that many lives – perhaps 400 or 500 – were saved by a Muslim security guard from North Africa named Didi. Not only did Didi open the doors and usher terrified fans out but, apparently, at great personal risk he went back into the theatre to open still more exit doors.
El Iraki is surely missing two key points here.
The first is that just because Hughes has omitted to mouth the usual platitude about “only a tiny minority” doesn’t mean he has a problem with all Muslims, only with the ideology that justifies such horrible behaviour. If, like El Iraki clearly is in that concert photograph in his groovy white-framed glasses, you’re a happy, well-integrated rock fan then it ought to be pretty obvious from Hughes’s general demeanour that you’re welcome at his gigs, no matter what your religion.
And the second is – that security guard: why haven’t we heard his story more? Well it’s because, as he admits in an interview with National Public Radio, he’s afraid that someone involved in the attack might come and bump him off. This would suggest that Hughes’s bleak analysis of the situation is closer to the ground truth than El Iraki’s fluffy ‘rock can heal the world’ idealism: that there really is a war going on here and that throwing up your hands and wishing all the nasty stuff would go away is not an option.
Another story from Bataclan:
I watched about seven people die. A couple of them were three feet from the barrier. They could have fallen backwards and been alive but they were too scared to even turn around. I remember a woman just standing with her hands up in a surrender pose. The terrorist finally saw her and all she did was go, “No no no.” She surrendered to death in front of my very eyes. I was yelling at her, “HEY!” and I don’t think she could hear me. She was so terrified, I think she’d already given up.
Sure it may make college-educated, safe-space-reared Guardian-reading types feel better about themselves by showing how much they disapprove of Jesse Hughes’s views on Islam. But since when did shooting the messenger solve a problem?