Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello slams Paul Ryan: He's clueless - The Capitol Column

Guitarist Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine isn’t returning the love that Congressman Paul Ryan expressed for the band last week.

The New York Times reported last week that Congressman Ryan named RATM as one of his favorite bands, a choice that has confused many because RATM is a politically charged rock band known for railing against the government in their songs.

In response, Tom Morello wrote an article in Rolling Stone that scorned Mr. Ryan and his naming of RATM as one of his favorites.

“Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades,” Mr. Morello wrote.  “Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn’t understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn’t understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.”

The RATM guitarist thinks Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which is currently before Congress, embodies the opposite policies that RATM argues for in their lyrics.

“[Congressman] Ryan claims that he likes Rage’s sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don’t care for Paul Ryan’s sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage,” Mr. Morello said.

The RATM website specifically encourages the public to engage in political activism, but some have deemed their lyrics as anti-government or pro-anarchy.  According to the band’s website, in 2001, “following the 9/11 attacks, Clear Channel [Communications] creates a list of ‘songs with questionable lyrics.’ RATM has the distinction of being the only band to have all its songs on the list.”

The band was formed around 1991 and became enormously popular throughout the 90s.  Their music remained fairly prevalent even after the band broke up in 2000.  The group reunited briefly in 2007 just in time for the 2008 presidential election.  At a concert in 2007, RATM front man Zack De La Rocha compared all members of the Bush Administration to Nazi war criminals.

“They should be hung, and tried, and shot,” Mr. De La Rocha told the crowd.

The most recent political message RATM sent was in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Mr. De La Rocha wrote a poem for his fans and placed in on their website with this introduction:  “This poem is dedicated to the Occupy movement whose courage is changing the world. Stay Strong. We are Winning. â€" Zack.”

Mr. Morello contemplated why the GOP’s presumptive vice presidential candidate might be a fan of RATM, and his musings were right in line with the pro civil rights, anti-establishment message that RATM has conveyed over the years.

“I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta ‘rage’ in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor,” he writes. “Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for political contributions.”

“This unbridled rage against those who have the least is a cornerstone of the Romney-Ryan ticket,” he added.

Mr. Morello concluded that Mr. Ryan did not ever really listen to the Rage’s lyrics. “Perhaps Paul Ryan was moshing when he should have been listening,” he said.

The publishing of Tom Morello’s article in Rolling Stone today coincides with the 20th anniversary of RATM’s self-titled, debut album.

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