The world in general, but Paris specifically, was shaken again by heinous terror on Friday November 13, 2015. In the misguided name of religion, an apocalyptic cult that we call ISIS or ISIL have attacked the good people of France once more. But they were surprised by the resilience of the French populace, and by the love of the entire world.
Still shaking, we all still struggle to make sense of these attacks. The loss of innocent lives, the radical cult with the twisted concept of good and evil and the desire to bring about the “final battle with Rome”, and the fear of what may come next. We have all spent time thinking about such things.
For some like myself, this attack has crossed a blurry line. For the first time ever, our precious music was a target. Josh Homme’s Eagles of Death Metal were playing to a crowd of 1500 people at the Bataclan concert hall. Little did Homme, or the gleeful concert goers realize, but ISIS had declared their gathering to be one of “pagans”:
“The targets included the Bataclan theatre for exhibitions, where hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice.” – official statement from ISIS.
Then, gunmen broke into the venue and executed 89 music fans, including some in wheelchairs. In the eyes of the terrorists, rock fans are all evil unbelievers, beyond redemption. To the rest of the sane world, they were simply 1500 people in the wrong place at the wrong time, punished for nothing, lives ended for nothing. It makes no sense.
Then, we all woke up the next morning. Bombs fell on Raqqa in Syria, in the name of Paris. For some, life goes on. For others, they must now carry on without their loved ones.
Without taking any focus away from where it should be (the innocent), this terror attack feels different than any other in memory. Rock music used to be a place we could go to escape. While gun violence (Dimebag) and mass tragedy (the Station House fire) are sadly nothing new at a rock concert, this is the first time rock fans have been specifically targeted by terrorists for the music we like — apparently “prostitution and vice”. We were already probably all targets anyway, for being the wrong religion, or sexual orientation, or just for holding the wrong beliefs. Now, 89 of us have been slaughtered, including Nick Alexander, a well-liked merchandise manager for the Eagles of Death Metal, for being at a rock concert. My friend Mike, who does the same job with Steve Earle, left Paris only hours before the attacks.
Sure, millionaires like Bono have always been trying to get music involved in world affairs. Music has raised money for the poor and starving, it has raised awareness for a multitude of issues, but ultimately it was really just an escape from the world. People do not attend a U2 concert to learn how to change the planet. You can learn that much more affordably by buying a book. People go to see U2 to witness the light show, the music, and ultimately escape from the outside world for two or three hours. That’s all it is in the long run, and now that sanctuary has been shattered for some.
Music will still be an escape for most of us. Most will not let this one attack change our lives, but it feels like a new battle line has been drawn. Now even we the rock fans, usually under society’s radar, have been attacked and killed. Expect this to draw us together, not tear us apart. Unlike the merciless fiends who did this, those hurt will draw strength from the love of the entire world.
Cut us, do we not bleed? Yes, we do. We will not stop resisting evil in this world, but now that rock fans are among the specifically calculated dead, it feels different to me. This time, it feels personal. ISIS have killed again, but they have also failed again. The world is stronger than they are. Love defeats hate.