I’ll give ya a dose
But it’ll never come close
To the rage built up inside of me
Fist in the air, in the land of hypocrisy
Movements come and movements go
Leaders speak, movements cease
When their heads are flown
Cause all these punks
Got bullets in their heads
Departments of police, the judges, the feds
Networks at work, keepin people calm . . .
Wake Up – Rage Against the Machine
Remember that song from the end of the Matrix? Paul Ryan probably does. We learned in the New York Times that Rage Against the Machine is one of his favorite bands.
Believe it or not, The Machine Rages On Rage Against the Machine has quite the history with Republican politics.
In 2000, Gary Bauer sorta ran for President after serving as head of the Family Research Council for about ten years. He won no primaries, and now, according to his bio on the web page for the non-profit he runs, he writes the occasional op-ed column. (Go ahead and check out his page on Wikipedia. We’ll wait.”).
In the 2000 Republican primaries Bauer attacked fellow Republican Alan Keyes for jumping into a mosh pit while Rage Against the Machine played. (The best part of the whole exchange is when Bauer refers to the band as “The Machine Rages On.” Whatever.).
Keyes, according to a summary in Salon written by Josh Marshall, had a great response:
Blaming him for what music was playing was like “holding me responsible for the color of my skin,” Keyes told Bauer. But wasn’t it a bad example to set? Far from it. Keyes spun his turn in the mosh pit into a metaphor for his trust in the people (Get it? Keyes had to trust that they wouldn’t drop him on his head). “And as an emblem of that trust,” Keyes bellowed on, “I believe, it was the right thing to do.”
But, Bauer asked, wasn’t Keyes just reducing the debate to the level of the Jerry Springer show — an atmosphere Keyes had earlier warned against? Keyes responded that on decamping from the mosh pit, a reporter told him he was the only person he’d ever seen come out of a mosh pit with his tie on straight. From this he launched into another metaphorical tear about how dignity comes not from the surface, but from within. Dignity “is about how you come through difficult times [i.e., his trip through the mosh pit] like we did in slavery.”
(Bauer, by the way, has gone on to famously say other crazy shit, like claiming that if voters don’t want a “dirty bomb” to be detonated in Washington DC they had better vote for John McCain instead of Barack Obama. We don’t know (or care) where Keyes is these days.)
But does Bauer have a point? Should any self-respecting and God-fearing Republican be listening to Rage Against the Machine?
Let’s start with the video for “Sleep Now in the Fire.” This was a pre-cursor to the Occupy Movement. The video contains statements about the percentage of Americans who don’t have health insurance, and about how much the top 1% own. During the filing of the video, fans stormed the New York Stock Exchange. They used footage of the emergency doors being closed in the video. Go ahead and take a moment to watch the video – it is f’n awesome and hardly the stuff of someone, like Ryan who wants to cut the top tax rates.
Bauer is quoted in the “Sleep Now in the Fire” video referring to Rage Against the Machine as anti-family and “pro-terrorist.”
After all, why does Paul Ryan like a group with lyrics like this:
There is no other pill to take
So swallow the one
That made you ill
The Nina The Pinta The Santa Maria
The noose and the rapist
The fields overseer
The agent of orange
The priests of Hiroshima
The cost of my desire
To Sleep now in the fire
Hard to see THAT as an example of American Exceptionalism. Seems more like an indictment of exploitive acts that led to the growth of American power: taking of Native American lands, lynchings, Vietnam, the atom bomb, etc . . .
And then of course there is the song Killing in the Name.
Some of those that wear forces
Are the same that burn crosses. . . .
Those who died
For wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
This song in controversial for raising the issue of racism by police officers. The band also famously covered N.W.A.’s “Fuck The Police.”
Rage Against the Machine ran into some conflict with NBC when they were invited to play on Saturday Night Live the same night as Steve Forbes appeared. NBC objected to the band hanging flags upside down as a statement that “American democracy is inverted when what passes for democracy is an electoral choice between two representatives of the privileged class.”
It turns out that Rage Against the Machine is no fan of Ryan. Guitarist Tom Morello wrote an article in Rolling Stone saying that Ryan “is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.”
Perhaps the GOP base will not be so fired up to support Ryan as they learn about his love of Rage Against the Machine. If you get the chance, make your Republican friends squirm by asking them why their Vice Presidential candidate he likes a pro-terrorism band? Better still, ask your Republican friends the question Morello asks: was Paul Ryan moshing when he should have been listening?
(One final note. Just so nobody misunderstands this post. We have been big fans of RATM for years. We share a lot of their views, even if they take a lot more artistic license in their lyrics than we ever would in a post. However, we and RATM strongly agree to disagree about the role of law enforcement.)