Terrorist attacks are motivated by the same emotions they hope to inspire in others—fear and hatred. In recent years, concerts and clubs have become prime targets of terrorist acts, perhaps because the sense of community, acceptance, and free artistic expression they signify is the exact kind of atmosphere terrorists seek to eradicate, sending a message as they do so.
By now I am sure you have heard of the Manchester Arena bombing that occurred at the close of Ariana Grande’s concert on May 22nd. Police have since identified the perpetrator as Salman Abedi, a British-born citizen who orchestrated a suicide bombing as attendees were exiting the Manchester Arena. Like so many attacks before it, the bombing culminated in senseless death and violence, leaving 22 individuals dead and over 100 injured. Many of the victims were teenagers or children.
from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
Grande posted a longer message to her fans on Twitter in the days following the attack, which calls for an end to needless violence and a push towards universal acceptance and tolerance, saying, “We will not quit or operate in fear. We won’t let this divide us. We won’t let hate win.”
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 26, 2017
It would be easy to let attacks like the Manchester Arena bombing, or the Paris attacks which began at the Bataclan, or the Pulse Nightclub shooting, to dictate our future actions. It would be easy, even understandable, to let the impulse to bury our heads in the sand take over, to cancel plans to go out or see live music as we stew in uncertainty in the days following a tragedy such as this. But when confronted with that impulse, we must remember the goal of terrorism—namely, to elicit just such a reaction, to instill doubt, to create lurking, creeping fear in our hearts and leave us sitting quietly in our homes, afraid of what might lie in wait outside.
Music, particularly live music, elicits an equal and opposite response. It brings people—huge groups of people who may have nothing else in common other than their passion for this one band, this one song—together, even if only for a singular moment in time. Sure, concerts can bring out the worst in people—drunken slurs, mosh pits, fist fights, the works—but in the end, as a whole, they signify a powerful, cultural force of people unified by an idea. That image, one of a massive crowd united in their love for the creative efficacy of an artist and for the message their music hopes to convey, is the very essence, the core of what terrorist acts hope to destroy. Don’t let it happen. Don’t let fear and hate control you, control us. Go out and see your favorite artist. Hell, go out and see a crappy local artist in a crappy local bar. Go out, listen, cheer, and love, and make it clear to individuals filled with hatred that their threats have fallen on deaf ears.