On Wednesday, Paste’s Donovan Farley wrote a piece titled “Why Jesse Hughes’ Statements on the Bataclan Theatre Shootings Aren’t Just Wrong, but Dangerous.” It was a typically thoughtful piece from Donovan on why Hughes, the Eagles of Death Metal frontman, was off point when he blamed the “liberal mentality” (whatever that is) and PC culture for the tragic shootings on Nov. 13 in Paris, and went on to claim that security was complicit in the attacks, and that Muslims were celebrating in the street immediately afterward. The comments may have been understandable, when you consider that Hughes had just survived an incredibly traumatic event, but that doesn’t make them any less incendiary, inaccurate, or—Farley had it right—dangerous.
Enter the New York Post, in the form of neo-red-baiter Joe Simonson. If you couldn’t make an educated guess at the level of nuance Simonson would display from the name of his newspaper, the title of the op-ed should clue you in: “The PC police are backing Islamic terrorists over Eagles of Death Metal.”
Immediately after reading that headline, I rushed back to Farley’s piece in a cold panic, looking for the part of his essay where he cheered on ISIS. I sure wouldn’t want that running under the banner of Paste politics! In fact, we’re avowedly anti-ISIS, and I apologize to no one for that stance.
But you’ll never believe what I found: It didn’t happen. Not once did Donovan praise, justify, or excuse the Bataclan shootings. Not even close. Take a moment to gasp, and get a cup of water, or whatever.
Of course, that didn’t matter to Simonson, whose job is to stoke anger against a fictional hyper-reactionary left who just loves ISIS to death. He writes:
All things considered, pretty mild stuff…Not to the left, of course. To them, it’s more important to hysterically rush to the defense of the “marginalized” group, regardless of how preposterous it looks.
It’s true that writers on the left are seeking to defend marginalized groups, but to conflate the people who are actually hurt by Hughes’ words with ISIS is essentially to say that all Muslims are terrorists. Simonson doesn’t make that point directly, but then again, he doesn’t really have to—it’s coded in every word he writes. We would recommend he re-reads Donovan’s piece, and, when he’s done, he should check out Ismael El Iraki’s facebook response to Hughes, in which he details how one Muslim man at the show saved several lives in the thick of the violence. Simonson should read that near a fainting couch, though, just in case the utter shock of learning that a Muslim man may have been against the terrorists knocks him out on his feet.
Oh, and here’s Simonson’s direct attack on our writer:
Already, some, like Donovan Farley of Paste Magazine, support the festival’s decision because “France is attempting to heal” (unlike Hughes?) and argue that allowing the band to play could potentially “alienate young Muslims.” No concern is found for the actual victims of the attacks, only the hypothetically offended.
Bold talk, Joe. Complete and utter bullshit, but bold nonetheless. If Paste had little tin sheriff’s stars to give out, we’d send the first one to you.
Here’s the actual point Farley made:
Clearly, the vast, vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, loving people—and the separation between the devout and the extremists must be acknowledged. If not, the rest of us risk not only becoming like those we oppose, but we also risk alienating young Muslims and in turn, helping to create new extremist recruits.
To me, that sounds like someone who is not only concerned for the victims, but is concerned for future victims—as opposed to Simonson, who wants to declare all Muslims the enemy and jack up the holy war to an 11.
Also, I have to point out that Farley actually took Hughes to task for his idiotic language about the victims, whom he claimed gave and “fell like wheat in the wind—the way you would before a god.” Farley called that language “wildly inappropriate and hugely disrespectful to those who lost their lives that night.” So no, he isn’t blasé about the victims—if anything, that description applies to Hughes, who essentially called them fatalistic ragdolls.
As a final point, I’d encourage everyone to remember that in times of violence and tension, there will always be people who see the conflict in terms of black-and-white, and evangelize on behalf of their simplistic worldview. That’s Simonson in a nutshell—he wants to reduce the world to good and evil, because that’s easy and uncomplicated. It takes writers like Farley to understand a deeper truth, which is that it’s possible for condemn terrorist groups like ISIS and understand that rhetoric like Hughes’ went too far. Extremist acts inspire extremist language, and what many people forget is that the two forces feed on each other, rising like a double helix, intertwining in a symbiotic relationship.
Jesse Hughes made things worse—in his own small way, he ratcheted up the hatred and made future acts of terrorism more likely. Joe Simonson amplified and justified his message, so he, too, is making things worse. He doesn’t have the courage to take off his blinders and see the world as it really is, and when someone like that calls one of our writers a coward, believe me—we’re fucking thrilled.