Guns

What the Eagles of Death Metal Can Teach Us About Fighting Terrorism

The police can't be everywhere.

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Eagles
Eagles of Death Metal

On Tuesday, the Eagles of Death Metal finally returned to Paris, playing a sold out concert at the Olympia that included many of the survivors of their last performance there, in November 2015.

What a ballsy move. Last November, of course, the EODM and their fans all became—suddenly, and horrifically—human targets of a brutal terrorist assault inside the Bataclan Theatre. Three jihadists armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles stormed the doors of the theater and proceeded to systematically execute people in the crowd.

That night still sits like an unshruggable weight on Jesse Hughes, the Eagles of Death Metal's irrepressible lead singer. He keeps replaying the episode, over and over, in his head. "There's a certain thing that's unmistakable about impending doom, when death is on you," Hughes recalls in a recent interview with the music site Kerrang!.

"It took us a minute to get off the stage. I saw about seven people get shot before I got off. I knew two of the girls. I felt angry. I was yelling at one of them because they weren't moving. They were frozen in fear. All she had to do was back up three feet and roll over. And she didn't move. That bothers me, because they didn't know what to do. I have to wonder what was it that lacked in their lives that didn't prepare them."

The vile slaughter of 89 innocents at that concert hall in Paris left its mark on me too. I wasn't there, and I don't want to trivialize the experience of those who were, but I still personalized it. I attend a lot of concerts as a beautiful way to escape the seriousness of daily life. I could have been in that theater, I imagined. How would I have handled myself? Could I have protected my friends, my wife? For me, Bataclan was a tipping point, the moment I decided to get a gun. With the subsequent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, arming myself and my family felt more like an obligation, not just a right.

I didn't know this at the time, but the EODM frontman was way ahead of me. "I've been around guns all my life," he says. In an emotional interview with iTele, Hughes breaks it down:

"I'll ask you: did your French gun control stop a single fucking person from dying at the Bataclan? And if anyone can answer 'yes', I'd like to hear it. Because I don't think so. I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I've ever seen in my life charging head-first into the face of death with firearms. I think the only way my mind has been changed is maybe that until nobody has guns, everybody has to have them."

The Eagles Of Death Metal are particularly unlikely evangelists for your Second Amendment right to defend yourself. This is not a "message band." Their music has no higher purpose. They are not like Bruce Springsteen singing songs about the struggles of the working class, or Bono preaching about the life and death of MLK. The Eagles of Death Metal have, most certainly, never penned a 20 minute Randian song cycle about the inherent dangers of benevolent totalitarianism. No, the Eagles of Death Metal are a joke. Literally. The band is an ontologically impossible attempt to superimpose the soft country rock of The Eagles with, well, death metal. It simply can't be done, but they do it anyway. The results are utterly ridiculous, just like some of the best rock n' roll.

I'm no religious scholar, but I am certain that the latest EODM album, Zipper Down, could not exist under Sharia Law.

And yet, Jesse Hughes, the tattooed rocker from southern California, is still schooling the world on what could be the best way to defeat radical Islam, and the very decentralized, very global, threat of terrorism. Why not try more liberty, not less? Sacrificing essential liberties for a false sense of security has simply not worked. Case in point: France itself. As Matt Welch has already documented, the French response to fighting terrorism has been an all out assault on the civil liberties of the French people. There, the government regulates free speech, the practice of religion, and systematically invades the privacy of innocents. And of course, it is all but impossible for a responsible Parisian to own and carry a gun. And yet none of this stopped the slaughter on November 13, 2015, or at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015.

We Americans have a different model, of course. Our Constitution is our original source code; non-negotiable protections intended to defend our individual liberties from the power of the state. But if you listen to the public debate this presidential primary season—sans Rand Paul—you will hear both Democrats and Republicans publicly rethinking the fundamental liberties protected by the Bill of Rights. Hillary Clinton wants to limit online speech. Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims. Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders want to grab your guns, but Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio want to grab your phone's metadata and your due process under law. Given how Washington operates, a grand compromise will likely just grab them all, omnibus style.

I don't support any of these measures out of moral principle. More to the point, perhaps, is the reality that such measures simply can't "make us safe." Such is the nature of the radically decentralized world we live in. The challenge of defeating decentralized terrorist networks with centralized, top-down systems (think Department of Homeland Security) was first suggested by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom in their 2007 book The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. Starfish organizations decentralize information and decision-making, and are leaderless in the sense that there is no command center or bureaucracy that dictates things from the top down. United by a radical ideology that holds them together, terrorist networks are virtually impossible to "wipe out." Cut off an arm of a starfish, as the Brafman/Beckstrom analogy goes, and you don't kill the organization, you just make it stronger by creating more starfish organizations.

So how could traditional law enforcement protect us from such a threat? Ignoring the inherent problems with giving police so much unlimited power, it seems implausible that there would ever be enough manpower, always positioned in the right place at the right time, to defend helpless and unarmed innocents from attack. As Judge Andrew Napolitano puts it: "The police simply cannot be everywhere." That's why Jesse Hughes wants you to be armed, self-aware, and prepared. "I don't want to see anything like this ever happen again," he says. "And I want everyone to have the best chance to live and I saw people die that maybe could have lived, I don't know, but I wish I knew for sure if they could have had a better chance."

Tuesday night was no doubt cathartic for all of the survivors of the terrorist assault at the Bataclan last November. "Rock and roll for me has always been fun, and I am not going to let anyone take that away from me or my friends," Hughes pronounced when the Eagles of Death Metal took the stage. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of rock n' roll. Now that's something worth defending.

@mkibbe is the author of Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff (HarperCollins 2014). 

[Correction: This piece originally stated that the Eagles played at the Bataclan for their return-to-Paris show. They played the Olympia.

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  1. Interesting article about the attack and a few survivors in Der Spiegel. Haunting stuff.

    http://www.spiegel.de/internat…..77426.html

    1. French mourning has ceded to a kind of apathy with people stoically following the political debates, knowing full well that neither an extension of the emergency laws nor the draconian measures that are now to be pushed through will be able to prevent terror and radicalism.

      They could always tighten up their gun laws. We always try.

      1. ah, the system. protecting itself , at your expense.
        Yes. they are a very paranoid organization and they want to invade your privacy. hack your phones
        surveil your streets . Big Bro. They killed over 10,000 Americans in their wars of late.
        Planted explosives in the WTC, Invaded Oil bearing sands and killed more Muslims for greed and Empire. And to protect Israel. and you are paying for it.
        And you must know by now, who the world’s largest terrorist org is.
        And they want to get into your “smart’ phones to protect their system of terrorist. And you give them lots of your hard earned money. well , they take it with the help of your employer.
        And they manipulate you by keeping you afraid .
        They’ve even enabled “terrorists” to prove they’re on the ‘job”.
        Then telling you how they are keeping you safe.
        Of Whom I can not speak their name.
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      2. The French have got their near-permanent state of emergency (almost martial law) still going on. They definitely tightened up, on a lot more than just gun laws.

      3. Insanity. you have the Utopian belief that guns can be so tightly controlled that criminals or terrorists can’t get them.
        DESPITE all the evidence that destroys that belief.
        it’s Weapons-Grade STUPID.

  2. “On Tuesday, the Eagles of Death Metal finally returned to the Bataclan Theater in Paris, playing a sold out concert that included many of the survivors of their last performance there, in November 2015. What a ballsy move”

    Playing at a place where people died months ago qualifies as a ‘ballsy move’? Is this off a press release by the band’s agent?

    1. I strongly suspect that a lot of bands wouldn’t be willing to go back to a venue where something like that happened just 4 months prior. Although I’m sure security was probably extremely tight this time around.

    2. Yes, it is a ballsy move. Or part of the healing process after a PTSD-inducing incident like having your concert turn into a shootout. And there is always the off chance that ISIS could have decided to retaliate.

      Sevo, fuck the hell off. Srsly.

      1. “Sevo, fuck the hell off. Srsly.”

        Gee tonio, I’ll make sure to check with you before posting an opinion. Srsly.

    3. I would say so. It is a middle finger to the aims of the terrorists. I don’t know about their music, but I am a fan of their singer, and I like his comments on gun control.

    4. Monica Seles was knifed at a tournament in Hamburg in 1993 and never played in the country again.

      Serena Williams was called some bad names at Indian Wells in 2001 and didn’t play there for the next 13 years, even though for the last several years it’s been a mandatory event.

  3. Own a gun but never assume for a second it will supernaturally appear on your hip at the inopportune moment you are horrifically exposed to extreme violence on government/public property or a concert venue the which erase all that sort of self-defense stuff at the front door.

  4. @Matt Kibbe: They didn’t play at the Bataclan. At least, the article you linked says they played at the Olympia in Paris. The Bataclan will not be open until 2017.

    1. Thanks for the catch. fixed it.

  5. “…They were frozen in fear. All she had to do was back up three feet and roll over. And she didn’t move. That bothers me, because they didn’t know what to do. I have to wonder what was it that lacked in their lives that didn’t prepare them.”

    I guess some people just go full “deer in the headlights.” I don’t get it either, you’d think the fight or flight response would kick in, but I guess not.

    It kind of reminds me of something a friend of mine said after the VA Tech shooting. He was talking about it with co-workers and one woman said “I don’t what I’d do in that situation. Probably just die.” His first thought was “How could someone just give up their life that easily? Isn’t life more valuable than that? Shouldn’t you at least try to do something?” I don’t know if maybe some people just don’t have that survival instinct/ drive or what, but personally, I’d rather go down fighting than go out like a punk.

    1. It’s really fight, flight or freeze. Freezing had an evolutionary advantage when we were hunted by motion sensitive predators.

      1. True, I’ve seen it in rabbits. My dog walked up to one that had frozen, picked it up by its scruff, and brought it back to my wife. Of course, as soon as he set it down it took off running.

      2. You’re correct. It’s the same mental process that will cause a squirrel to stop in place and not move when a car is bearing down at 50 miles per hour.

    2. I think it’s hard for some people to really comprehend what is happening during these events. I could see myself thinking it was a prank, a “flash mob” event, or just a gang brawl; right up to the point I realize, “It’s madmen with guns!” Then I’d be dead.

      1. “I thought it was firecrackers. “

      2. Indeed. A lot of concerts employ fireworks, so many could have mistaken the pops for pyrotechnics.

    3. The comfort level of everyday life for most people has reached such a degree that a survival instinct is dropping away. People who live such comfortable lives are probably more likely to go directly into a state of shock when presented with sudden violence.

      1. Agreed. Today, it is very clear that people who grew up in other parts of the world than the civilized West are far more accustomed to death and crime and the depravity of some humans.

        Hence the foolishness of some in inviting huge numbers of refugees from high-conflict areas into their peaceful idyllic countries and then being surprised that they behave and think quite violently.

    4. Speaking as the survivor of a home invasion, yes, freezing can and does happen. I can’t speak for the dead or evolutionary hardwiring, but in my case, it was several seconds’ of sheer denial (thisisnothappening thiscannotbehappening) along with the crazy crisis ‘logic’ of ‘if I react it really WILL be happening.’ Then I pulled myself back together, saw a chance at the door, and went out it and down the street faster than I’ve ever run in my life, screaming for help all the way. I had no combat or any other sort of training (at the time, you’d better believe I do now), I was just fortunate enough to have parents who raised me to be fairly level-headed and self-sufficient. Not everyone does, and it probably doesn’t always take with those who do.

      1. Very interesting. Thanks for that.

    5. They have been so brainwashed by their governments that something like that could not happen to the, ignoring facts of course, that the response may have been bred out of too many people, just like the governments want, clueless helpless sheep to easily slaughter when the time comes

    6. find a fire extinguisher and use it as a weapon.
      with the usual dry chemical extinguisher,you can choke and blind the attacker,then use the heavy metal tank to batter his brains out. You can throw it at him,or maybe use the tank as a shield in your rush to overpower him.

  6. The challenge of defeating decentralized terrorist networks with centralized, top-down systems (think Department of Homeland Security) was first suggested by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom in their 2007 book The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations.

    I don’t know…it seems a tie with John Robb’s “open source warfare” concept in his 2007 book Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization. That having been said, the concept of 4th Gen warfare had been written about well before Robb or Brafman & Beckstrom.

  7. It’s bizarre to me that the coke fiend singer of a joke band that I’ve loved for years and years is now an international celebrity for his audience getting murdered. Life is weird.

    Incidentally, Josh Homme, the other famous member of the band, is a full-on libertarian. Look up some of his interviews.

      1. I need to catch up on that show

        And not to other pajama boy, but Josh Homme is a real man

    1. More of a meth fiend, actually. Jesse loves his “speed.” He’s admitted this in dozens of interviews over the years.

      Seen both EODM and QOTSA live many times. These are some of my favorite bands for years (going on 16 for QOTSA). I always suspected Josh leaned libertarian, but haven’t heard him say it conclusively – unlike Jesse who runs his mouth any chance he gets. He’s quickly becoming the new Ted Nugent.

    2. I had my seven-year-old son on my shoulders at an outdoor festival last September watching his favorite band, EODM. Jesse shouted out to him: “Do you want us to keep playing little boy?” He had a thousand people looking at him and thought it was great. Fast forward a few months and EODM is internationally known for being front-and-center at a terrorist attack. That was weird for the boy.

    3. That would explain the band having cojones…

  8. Excellent commentary, Mr. Kibbe.

    I’d posit the best way to defeat “starfish” organizations is with other starfish organizations. That’s precisely, as you imply, why giving up our liberty to purchase the illusion of security doesn’t work. One of the more useful analogies I’ve read is “a pack, rather than a herd”.

  9. nice article, but the EODM didn’t play at the bataclan, which is still closed, but at another venue

  10. I don’t think they should have returned until France establishes 1A rights – speech, religion and press. They are living under a secular caliphate (laicite) and this won’t stop until they reject it. Also beware the man who values 2A over 1A.

    1. While I agree with your point about 2A vs 1A, I don’t think many people who value 2A do it at the expense of 1A. Excepting, of course, the standard issue politician, Most of us here value ALL of our rights. The 2nd Amendment just lets us defend the others if need be. Besides, to paraphrase an internet meme, Washington didn’t defeat the British with words. He killed them with guns. (I know, no need for the history lesson, please,)

  11. I’ve been a huuuge EODM fan since ’05, and met Jesse Hughes after a concert. He is a legit nice guy; pure class.

  12. Attacking government in a distributed way:

    http://classicalvalues.com/201…..swat-team/

  13. “I’ll ask you: did your French gun control stop a single fucking person from dying at the Bataclan? And if anyone can answer ‘yes’, I’d like to hear it. Because I don’t think so. I think the only thing that stopped it was some of the bravest men that I’ve ever seen in my life charging head-first into the face of death with firearms. I think the only way my mind has been changed is maybe that until nobody has guns, everybody has to have them.”

    So that’s what that loud, disturbing, yelp of anguish was. The sound of progressives reacting to this quote.

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  16. The Paris “attacks” were a scam, an inside job, [most likely with no real victims], to directly benefit the government itself. [Same old story].

    The Eagles of Death Metal group are most likely a part of the fraud on the French people, a CIA creation, possibly.

    http://www.cluesforum.info/vie…..=24&t=1847

    Regards, onebornfree.

    1. It seems highly unlikely, but I guess nothing can be totally ruled out in this crazy world. Anyway, I can’t help thinking that the bullets fired by the terrorists, and the ones in the gun(s) kept by Jesse Hughes, are quite literally pieces of “death metal”. Maybe that wasn’t such a great choice of a band name after all.

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  18. This kind of terrorism is very infrequent, compared to the terror I would feel knowing that hundreds of temporarily sane people were hanging around with guns for our “safety”. If I am ever in such a terrorist situation, I will flee, hide or fight, but I won’t be carrying a gun, because I don’t want to be faced with a “need” to kill anyone, and I would rather die than live in constant fear.

    1. Re: “I won’t be carrying a gun, because I don’t want to be faced with a “need” to kill anyone”

      This doesn’t make sense. It is not only up to you to choose what situations you will face. A criminal may decide to attack you with lethal force, and that choice is out of your hands. If you think that you can affect the criminal’s decision by banning all weapons everywhere, then that is your mistake to make–it does not change the reality that the criminal’s decision to try to kill you is his decision alone. Even without a weapon, a criminal can choose to attempt to kill you with his bare hands (strangulation, using non-weapons like running you over with a car, etc.)

      Apart from that, the choice to carry or not carry a gun doesn’t impose any ‘”need” to kill’ upon you. You can always carry a gun and never need to kill anyone. It is not as if guns have some sort of magical evil influence that when one is on your person, you have an insatiable need to kill people.

      If you really believe that people out there are “temporarily sane,” it sounds as if you already live in fear.

      On top of that, the phrase ‘hundreds of temporarily sane people were hanging around with guns for our “safety”‘ could describe law enforcement as easily as armed citizens. Do you trust your cops with your safety? If so, why? In the USA, more people have been killed by the police than combat deaths in the Iraq war: http://thefreethoughtproject.c…..-iraq-war/

    2. Your irrational fears really are no justification for depriving others of their constitutional right to defend themselves. So, your preferences really don’t matter.

    3. the same old nonsense,that people who choose to carry guns are “living in fear”. That’s like saying people who have fire extinguishers in their home are living in fear of fires.
      More accurately,it’s being prepared for a very possible occurrence.
      The fact that you would “feel terror” knowing that others around you had guns shows you’re not rational. Considering that in the US,many millions of people have concealed carry permits,those lawfully armed citizens ARE around you all the time. Your irrational feeling also shows you’re ignorant of the fact that lawfully-permitted citizens are the SAFEST and most-law-abiding group you could find. Lawfully armed citizens are not the people you should be fearing.
      But,since you ARE irrational and lack reason,none of this will have any effect on your mindset.

    4. ” and I would rather die than live in constant fear.”
      How is being constantly prepared living in constant fear? You don’t become less afraid by not being prepared.

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  21. The Eagles Of Death Metal are particularly unlikely evangelists for your Second Amendment right to defend yourself. This is not a “message band.” Their music has no higher purpose.

    That’s actually why they are a likely group to express sensible opinions when pushed.

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  23. All she had to do was back up three feet and roll over vote LIB instead of DEM or REP. And she didn’t move.

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