Hey, Jesse Hughes: Who's Exploiting Tragedy Now?

"I did not mean to do what it seems like I was doing."

Music Features Eagles of Death Metal
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Hey, Jesse Hughes: Who's Exploiting Tragedy Now?

Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes has had a week to think about it, and on second thought, he says, the students who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., and have since become the nation’s leading voices for stricter gun laws are NOT, that is NOT, “disgusting vile abusers of the dead,” as he insisted they were in an Instagram post on March 26.

In a video posted to that same Instagram account on Saturday, Hughes apologized for his earlier remarks, claiming, “I did not mean to do what it seems like I was doing.”

A post shared by Jesse Hughes (@fatherbadass) on

As mea culpas go, this one is paper thin. Hughes apologized not for what he did—namely, attack in the grossest terms the effort by these survivors to take action in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy they witnessed—but for what “it seems” like he did. Worse, he framed it in his own undeniably traumatic experience as a survivor of terrorism, despite an unfortunate history of lashing out at other victims.

Looking like a strung-out mime, Hughes insisted in Saturday’s Instagram video: “What I had intended to be a statement about the hijacking by any side of the aisle of the beautiful agenda of the movement of our nation’s youth came off seeming like a mean-spirited personal attack and slight of the youth themselves and even a personal attack of its leadership, and I want to be clear, I never intended for that to happen. I was not attempting to impugn the youth of America and this beautiful thing they’ve accomplished. I am truly sorry.”

If it “seems like” Hughes’s initial outburst “came off seeming like a mean-spirited personal attack,” perhaps that is because that’s exactly what it was. He accused the students behind the worldwide March for Our Lives rallies of “exploiting the death of 16 of [their] fellow students for a few Facebook likes and some media attention” and of “playing hooky at the expense of 16 of your classmates blood,” and called their response to the shooting “pathetic and disgusting.”

Here’s where we note, as it must be noted, that Hughes’s involvement in this topic traces back to the horrific terrorist attack in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, when gunmen ambushed his band’s concert at the Bataclan and killed 89 people including the group’s manager. With the civilized world eager to embrace his band in a huge hug, Hughes proceeded to publicly blame the attack on France’s gun-control laws, the Bataclan’s security personnel, and “a liberal curriculum” in schools that, to his mind, had softened the populace to the point of docile submission. “When you tell people they can’t help themselves and that they’re children,” he told one interviewer in 2016, “you weaken them to a point where three feet away is life and they can’t see it because they’re too scared.”

Following his accusations, The Eagles of Death Metal were removed from the lineups of a few 2016 European festivals, prompting an apology from Hughes, who said at the time: “I realize there’s no excuse for my words, but for what it’s worth: I am sincerely sorry for having hurt, disrespected or accused anyone.”

Two years later, the 45-year-old Hughes is still maligning the people trying to prevent mass shootings, followed by a meek apology. This time around, he insists he was “not attempting to impugn the youth of America,” perhaps because he knows that without the youth of America, there are very few people left to listen to his rapidly decaying brand of testosterone-soaked guitar-rock. A week after accusing the Parkland survivors of exploiting their classmates’ deaths and “insult[ing] the memory of those who were killed,” Hughes is now calling the March for Our Lives rallies “a beautiful agenda” and asserting that “as someone who has watched their friends shot in front of their eyes and seen people killed that they love, I should have handled this a lot more maturely and responsibly.”

If anyone is exploiting tragedy at this point, it’s Jesse Hughes.