Does everyone remember when Paul Ryan said he was a huge Rage Against the Machine fan while running as Mitt Romney’s VP pick in 2012? Rage’s guitarist Tom Morello wrote an entire piece for Rolling Stone outlining why Ryan could not be a fan since he’s basically what the band rages against.
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.
I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of “F*ck 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!
The whole article is brutally delicious and I urge you to read it.
I bring this up because Morello is the most vocal of Rage’s members right now, with active Twitter and Instagram accounts where he shares his opinions on the state of the world. Without fail, some dude who doesn’t understand that words have meaning decides to let Morello know that his political opinions are not what they expected from their FAVORITE BAND CALLED RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE.
So, people somehow surprised that Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine supports Black Lives Matter and has educated political views, let me stop you before you reach out to him to express your disappointment. (Like he gives a f*ck.)
To understand Morello, you should meet his mother:
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My 96 yr old mom has been a tireless advocate for Black Lives her whole life. From being a foreign student advisor at the Univ. of Illinois, to teaching in Kenya and supporting the anti-colonial movement there, to teaching African Studies and bringing a radical perspective to a white conservative high school for 30 yrs, to being a member of the Illinois Urban League and campaigning for civil rights, to helping homeless African American men get their GED at the Salvation Army, to telling anybody who came at our family with any racist garbage to go straight to hell, to arming me with pride & confidence, to being a lifelong proponent of racial justice and ruthless critic of racist police. Proud to stand with her today, as always, in solidarity in the fight for a more just and humane country & planet. (Photo by Rhoads Morello)
His mother Mary is Irish and his father, Ngethe Njoroge, was Kenya’s first ambassador to the United Nations. After his parents ended their marriage, Morello moved with his mother from Harlem to Libertyville, IL, where they were the first bi-racial family (according to Morello himself on his SiriusXM show One Man Revolution).
In an interview with LouderSound in 2006, Morello shared that political activism is basically his birthright:
My mother founded the Parents For Rock And Rap organisation, which was an anti-censorship lobby. My dad was a freedom fighter for Kenyan independence (part of the Mau Mau guerilla movement), and then became his country’s first ambassador to the UN. And my great uncle was Jomo Kenyatta - the first president of Kenya. So I very quickly picked up on political activism and fighting for the rights of others.
That’s Morello’s starting point. Then, in 1991, he formed Rage with lead singer Zack de la Rocha, guitarist Brad Wilk, and drummer, Timmy Commerford. Any actual fan knows that the lyrics dealt with police brutality and violence, oppression against people of color, and revolutionary politics.
In 2002, Serj Tankian and Morello founded Axis of Justice, a non-profit dedicated to fighting for social justice. In 2020, Rage members announced their reunion tour and startled some fans with the pricing of tickets. While regular seats ran around $125 each, special Charity Tickets topped $900 — but for good reason.
The MOST expensive ticket for ANY Rage Against The Machine/Run the Jewels headline show is $125 US (plus service fees) with the exception of CHARITY tickets where 100% of the additional proceeds go to charity. ANY other ticket at ANY other price is from SCALPERS.— Tom Morello (@tmorello) February 14, 2020
Yes. Read it. 10% of all Tix reserved for charity. 100% of money above base price on each ticket goes to charities in that city. Charity price fluctuates to counter scalping. When we have final numbers will list charities. Over $3m raised for charity in first 48 hrs. https://t.co/ynAbtrSQT0— Tom Morello (@tmorello) February 15, 2020
So, now we are back in June 2020. Protests spurred by the death of another Black American at the hands of police are happening while the person squatting in the White House bunker pours gasoline on the fire instead of water. Some so-called fans of Rage Against the Machine are confused when Morello posts this:
“Some of those that work forces/Are the same that burn crosses”. 10 years ago today @RATM performed a free “Victory Concert” for 90k people in Finsbury Park, England to celebrate the successful ‘people’s campaign’ that dethroned Simon Cowell’s X Factor https://t.co/cG7KckGrdm— Tom Morello (@tmorello) June 6, 2020
The lyrics are RIGHT THERE, KIDS. How you missed them all this time is beyond me, but now that you know that the band you thought you liked doesn’t care that much for you? Don’t try to call Morello out. It will end badly for you.
Like shooting fish in a barrel: pic.twitter.com/hxvZ6GgoH5— Tom Morello (@tmorello) June 6, 2020
Scott!! What music of mine were you a fan of that DIDN’T contain “political BS”? I need to know so I can delete it from the catalog. https://t.co/AMpmjx6540— Tom Morello (@tmorello) June 9, 2020
Goddamnit, Scott. Now, check this Morello tweet so you won’t be surprised to learn that Bruce Springsteen wrote “Born in the USA” as an indictment of the way America treats its veterans returning from war. He criticizes it, Scott!
This week a special #FuckRacism edition of my #OneManRevolution show on @SIRIUSXM Lithium w/Mary Morello & feat #RATM, @runjewels @springsteen #BillieHolliday #DeadKennedys #Audioslave #JakobDylan #LittleRichard @LivingColour & more! Tune in! pic.twitter.com/CzrYzAuDNj— Tom Morello (@tmorello) June 5, 2020
If anyone thought all of this was a revelation, just wait until you hear about Morello’s OTHER bands…
Header Image Source: Getty Images