Mark Steyn has a typically great column about the reaction to the terror attacks in France and reading it is well worth your time. But I want to focus on one particular paragraph:
Our enemies understand how myopic we are. They attack a concert by Eagles of Death Metal, which is not without a certain blood-soaked irony: In our world, "death metal" is a genre at iTunes. In their world, it's literal: They bring real death metal to our "death metal" concerts, and pile high the corpses. In our world, it's all pose and attitude. In theirs, these words still have meaning.
A friend suggested that this was evidence of the growing divide between older and younger conservatives because Steyn apparently doesn't grasp that the Eagles of Death Metal aren't actually a death metal band. If you must know, "death metal" is a particularly aggressive and tuneless subgenre characterized by extremely guttural vocals. (In short, if you don't know already about it, you don't want to know.) The Eagles of Death Metal, despite their name, are a straight-up rock and roll band with touches of punk and art-rock thrown in to keep things interesting. Their latest single is pretty darn catchy.
As for the generational divide, well, let's just say that while I won't be correcting Steyn on his knowledge of classic broadway and obscure cabaret singers, I imagine I'm much more of a rock and roll scenester that Steyn is. In this case, I feel well qualified to note that even if Steyn's wrong, he's still right. Steyn's misunderstanding about the "Eagles of Death Metal" only further reinforces his point. The whole name is an ironic joke, as in "we're the Eagles of Death Metal," even though stylistically the band is nothing like either musical reference. To Steyn's point, it's hard to fight pernicious, but tangible, cultural values when your own culture has less and less meaning because everything's buried under layers of irony. (Their latest single, the one linked above, is even entitled "Complexity.") Indeed, to the extent I like the Eagles of Death Metal—and I'm a fan—it's in spite of their ridiculous name.
Of course, that's a lot of a high-falutin' rhetorical baggage to pile on a rock band. For what it's worth, Eagles of Death Metal co-founder Josh Homme—who was not present at the Paris attack and is best known for his other band, Queens of the Stone Age—is a gun enthusiast and, according to muscian Frank Turner, a "hardcore libertarian." (I mention Turner here because he's another rock and roll outlier; his song "Sons of Liberty" could well be the Tea Party fight song.) Ironic band names aside, I presume Homme's politics mean he has a good deal more moral clarity about the nature of ISIS and Islamic terror than many of his rock and roll peers. Though it's doubtful he grasps the issue as well as Art Garfunkel, who back in September was favorably citing Reflections on the Revolution In Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West written by THE WEEKLY STANDARD's Chris Caldwell, and warning that Muslim immigration presented dangers for Europe.
But whatever generational divide may separate our musical tastes, I hope Steyn and I can agree that any musicians—let alone an act as inexplicably popular as Coldplay—who play a somber version of John Lennon's execrable "Imagine" in response to last Friday's tragedy, should be banished to St. Helena to live out their days. It's a fitting punishment, and one that pays homage to the collective debt we owe to France's rich cultural traditions.