The Pianist in Paris, and the Delusions of the Western Left

A lone pianist touched the emotional core of Western sensibilities when he played John Lennon’s “Imagine” outside the Bataclan theatre in Paris, where concert-goers were murdered by Islamist gunmen last weekend.  The pianist was reportedly watching a France v Germany soccer game when the attacks began.  He said that he “just knew he had to do something.”  It was his “duty” to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks.  So he drove 400 miles through the night from Konstanz, Germany to Paris.

Pictures were snapped of him on his bicycle heading to the Bataclan, piano in tow, determinedly heading to the scene of the tragedy.  While playing, onlookers took videos and photographed him, ostensibly due to the heavy contrast of something so beautiful and hopeful amidst a scene that is so horrific.  People across the West wept, they cheered, and generally embraced the gravitas of that moment, exemplified in the powerful message of that legendary Beatle….

Imagine there’s no countries,
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for,
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people living life in peace…

Beautiful scene, isn’t it?  Aren’t we Westerners a peaceful and compassionate bunch? Yay, us!

Here’s the problem.  It was little more than a show, put on for no other purpose than to perpetuate a fantasy. 

Take the pianist, named Davide Martello.  In reading the initial stories, I got the impression that he was just sitting in a bierhaus drinking lager when, all of a sudden, he felt moved by some unknown impulse to travel to Paris and do something unique – something he’d never done before.  He just had to go to the scene of the tragedy, and do something beautiful.

Even that might still seem a little self-serving and macabre, given that the blood had not even been cleared from the mass murder that had just taken place the night before.  But as it turns out, going to scenes of violent destruction and playing the piano is something that Davide, well, kind of just does.  He’s known as the “war-zone pianist,” who “travels around conflict zones, playing the piano, forming a cultural barrier between citizens and oppression.”  That’s a pretty abstract job description, but he does whatever that last thing is so well that he has “been granted the civic award of the European Parliament for his ‘outstanding contribution to European cooperation and the promotion of common values.’”

In short, this was simply a staged event that happened to be under more high-profile circumstances than, say, his performance in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris earlier this year.

There can be no doubt that Martello thinks there is boundless value in his performance, however.  “I can’t bring people back,” he said, “but I can inspire them with music and when people are inspired, they can do anything.  That’s why I played Imagine.”   

If the Western left were to have an ideological anthem, it almost certainly would be Lennon’s “Imagine.”  Despite its incredibly simplistic construction, Rolling Stone declares it Lennon’s “greatest gift to the musical world,” primarily due to its message.  The song expresses a desire for “absolute equality created by the dissolution of governments, borders, organized religion and economic class.” 

No, you’re not alone in thinking that you’ve heard those concepts expressed elsewhere before.  Lennon himself admitted that “Imagine” is “virtually the Communist Manifesto.”

The song is also imbued with a certain air of self-righteousness -- as if the ideas expressed in the song were then, are now, and always will be the only ideas in the world that matter.  Why can’t everyone just see the world the way Communists and Western hippies saw it then, and enlightened Western progressives see it now?

The irony behind all of this, perhaps, may have been offered years back by Mark Steyn in After America, commenting on the “IMAGINE PEACE” bumper stickers that are all too common.  He writes, “That’s a total failure of imagination – a failure, under the guise of universalist multiculturalism, to imagine that outside your fluffy cocoon there is a truly many-cultured world of people so “diverse” they do not view things as you do.”

The values in John Lennon’s little love-note to Marxism are the subject of a Western leftist’s fantasy -- that if we just wish hard enough, the people who want to kill us will come around to our way of thinking, and everyone will live in peace.  And to think that this staged event carries some sort of profundity beyond a promotion of that dangerous fantasy is delusional.

The world watched in horror as this fantasy of a European multicultural utopia was razed -- again.  Reality reasserted itself, once again in the form of Islamic terrorists visiting destruction upon the city’s innocent denizens.  A handful of Muslim fanatics from various nations, bound by unifying religious hatred of the West and its values, carried out coordinated attacks throughout the city, killing more than 120 people and injuring more than 300.

And what is the West’s immediate reaction to what should be yet another wakeup call?  To opiate itself back into its fantasy by promoting and celebrating staged musical love-ins at the site of grisly murders, hashtag campaigns, and fun filters for our Facebook profile pictures. 

What the West needs is to stop imagining this world where everyone thinks like us and wants what we want.  We need to stop imagining that there are not practical things which can be done to protect Western nations from attacks like the one in Paris, carried out by vicious ideologues who are clearly working tirelessly and subversively to destroy us and our way of life because they imagine a world very different than the one Lennon and company fantasize about.

So let’s drop the fantasy and embrace reality by starting here:  immediately halt the importation of refugees from war-torn Syria, as we clearly know that ISIS is inserting attack operatives among the massive waves of refugees, and screening processes cannot be reliable under the current circumstances.  Senior Obama administration officials readily admit the latter as fact.  With this knowledge, any action by our leaders allowing continued acceptance of these refugees amounts to our leaders having willfully placed Americans in danger of attack. 

And if the French are in need of a song to get the patriotic sap rising and spur its people to self-preservation in response to the ISIS threat, as Rich Lowry notes in the New York Post, the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” isn’t so bad: To arms citizens/Form your battalions/March, march.”

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.