Tom Morello – ‘We Came Within a Baby’s Breath of a Fascist Coup in This Country’
Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello has often been one of the more politically outspoken rockers in music, and during a recent chat with the Guardian, he was asked his thoughts on the storming of the U.S. Capitol that occurred on Jan. 6 of this year.
Reflecting on that moment, Morello stated, "We came within a baby’s breath of a fascist coup in this country."
He went on to add, "Interestingly, one of my dreams has always been to storm the Capitol, but not with a bunch of all-white, rightwing terrorists, you know? The ugliest part about it is how they have co-opted the idea of standing against the Man, at least in the U.S. There can be no nuanced thinking, like: 'Yes, big pharma is horrible, but getting a vaccine to save your grandma is good.' It’s a dumbed-down version of resistance."
But, that said, Morello reveals he was raised in an area where there were views that were the opposite of his own. "I grew up in Trump country [in suburban Illinois], I know people from there. They’re decent people. It’s not their fault for being fucked over by the oligarchy for decades," says the guitarist. "Now what do we do to find a way to really resist the stuff that is destroying the planet, that’s causing working people’s lives to be worse than their parents’ were? Poverty and hunger kill more people than anything else on the planet and they are human-made problems. Those are the things that we need to be digging into, rather than being sidetracked by this carnival barker bullshit."
Morello was also asked about Rage Against the Machine's music being shouted out by pro-Trump supporters in Philadelphia, responding, "First of all, there’s no accounting for stupidity. There’s a long list of radical left anthems that are misunderstood by bozos who sing them at events like that, from Woody Guthrie’s 'This Land Is Your Land' to Bruce Springsteen’s 'Born in the USA' to John Lennon’s 'Imagine' – those people have really no idea what the hell they’re singing about."
He adds, "The one thing that I speak to in all of those instances is that there’s a power to the music that casts a wide net, and that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. In that net, there will be the far-right bozos, but there will also be people that have never considered the ideas put forward in those songs and are forced to consider those ideas because the rock 'n' roll is great. You can either put a beat to a Noam Chomsky lecture – no one wants that, but there’s going to be no mistaking what the content is – or you can make music that’s compelling."
Morello says only when Rage songs were used for torture purposes did he have an issue with how their music was being used. "My take is: 'Go enjoy the rock 'n' roll. You look like fools, but go enjoy the rock 'n’ roll,” added the guitarist.