‘Rage Against the Machine’ guitarist smacks down Paul Ryan’s compliment

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, August 17, 2012 9:23 EDT
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'Rage Against the Machine' guitarist Tom Morello at 'Occupy Wall Street' in New York City. Photo: Flickr user david_shankbone, creative commons licensed.
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The running mate of presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told The New York Times this week that one of his favorite bands is “Rage Against the Machine.” But it’s not their lyrics that Paul Ryan likes, mind you — it’s just the music.

In an editorial response published Friday in Rolling Stone, the man responsible for that music, “Rage” guitarist Tom Morello, is having approximately none of that.

“I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is?” the rebel rocker wrote. “Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of ‘Fuck the Police’? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!”

He continues: “Don’t mistake me, 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, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions.”

Morello goes on to say that the whole idea of “Rage Against the Machine” is predicated upon opposing everything that Paul Ryan represents, and that he hopes some of the band’s lyrics might have sunk in over the years. “Maybe he’ll fill Guantanamo Bay with the corporate criminals that are funding his campaign – and then torture them with Rage music 24/7,” he concludes. “That’s one possibility. But I’m not betting on it.”

Morello made numerous stops at “Occupy” protests around the world last year to promote the demonstrations and boost morale, playing famous licks like “World Wide Rebel Song” and “This Land is Your Land.”

Speaking to National Public Radio in May, he explained that his driving passion in music is social justice and holding wealthy corporate criminals accountable. “[Some] are free to choose between Lamborghini and Rolls Royce while others are free to choose which dumpster they’re going to have their meal out of next,” he said. “Some are free to choose which, you know, homes and farms to foreclose on, while others choose which bridge they’re going to sleep under tonight.”

He’s since joined with actor Mark Ruffalo to promote a so-called “Robin Hood tax” that takes less than half of 1 percent from every transaction on Wall Street to boost community and social initiatives. Independent analysis of Paul Ryan’s tax proposals, on the other hand, suggests he might not agree, considering he wants to raise taxes on the middle class while cutting taxes for the very wealthy.

Photo: Flickr user david_shankbone, creative commons licensed.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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