GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan says he is a fan of Rage Against the Machine, but Tom Morello, the band's guitarist, in an op-ed published in the Rolling Stone, says Ryan is "the embodiment of the machine our music has been raging against for two decades."
According to the CNN, Ryan's Facebook playlist includes Rage Against the Machine (RATM), Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Hank Williams Jr., the Grateful Dead and Beethoven. CNN reports that as Joe Levy, editor of Billboard Magazine points out, while it would be "absurd beyond comprehension," for Ryan to use RATM music at a campaign stop, Hank Williams Jr., Metallica and Beethoven do not conflict with his political views. Hank Williams Jr. is a vocal Republican supporter. Beethoven never registered for an American political party and Metallica, according to CNN, prefer to stay out of politics.
MTV reports that when it was revealed that Ryan said he is a Rage Against the Machine (RATM) fan, many were puzzled because his political views appear to be in "direct opposition to the band's smash-the-system ethos?"
The activist group is led by Zack de la Rocha and guitarist Tom Morello, who is a self-proclaimed socialist and labor union supporter. The group has been been involved in several protests. According to CNN, Rage staged a protest concert on the lawn of the Minnesota State Capitol during the Republican National Convention in 2008. The group also held a concert protesting the Iraq War during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Tom Morello, in the Rolling Stone op-ed, rails against Paul Ryan's inclusion of RATM in his Facebook playlist: "Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine. 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."
Morello continues: "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--k 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!
"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."
He concludes: "My hope is that maybe Paul Ryan is a mole. Maybe Rage did plant some sensible ideas in this extreme fringe right-wing nut job. Maybe if elected, he'll pardon Leonard Peltier. Maybe he'll throw U.S. military support behind the Zapatistas. Maybe he'll fill Guantanamo Bay with the corporate criminals that are funding his campaign ... but I'm not betting [on] it."
Alexandra Petri, writing on The Washington Post, comments on Morello's attack on Ryan : "One of the occupational hazards of being a conservative politician is that periodically, bands you are fond of will denounce you. If you try to spice up your rallies with a few dulcet strains of 'Panic Switch,' expect an angry letter demanding that you desist... So what’s a music-loving conservative to do? You can’t very well spend your whole life listening to Pat Boone. That would be unbearable... But show the slightest inclination to the even marginally hip, and suddenly everyone’s recoiling from your touch... you are bound to be a little disappointed by the fact that none of your idols wants to hang out with you later in life."
According to CNN, Joe Levy, editor of Billboard Magazine, said it is possible that Ryan pays attention to the "feel" of RATM's music, but ignores the lyrics "for the same reason that he might listen to Led Zeppelin only because of the guitar riffs." Levy said: "The disconnect between the meaning of the song and the way it feels is an old one. ... Lyrics are felt before they are understood and it's certainly possible to listen to Rage Against the Machine and never embrace or understand what they are saying."
Lorraine Ali, pop music editor at the Los Angeles Times, said Ryan's pick may well say something about the kind of vice president he might make. Ali said: "If he wasn't hearing what someone was saying when they were screaming it in your face ... is this the guy we want in office when he doesn't hear?"