Morello Rages Against Ryan…So What?
August 20, 2012 81 Comments
It seems that forces were aligned to legitimize my claim from last week that the media, and the public at large, are less concerned with real issues, and more focused on some of the most pointless triviality that dominates our lives these days. Since Friday, much of my Facebook News Feed and my Twitter page was dominated by references to comments made by guitarist Tom Morello.
Morello is the lead guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, a band cited by GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan as one of his favorites. Apparently, Mr. Morello is not as big of fan of Ryan as Ryan is of RATM.
In a blistering op-ed published Thursday night on Rolling Stone’s website, Tom Morello blasts Mitt Romney’s new VP choice as “the embodiment of the machine our music rages against.”
In painting Ryan as antithetical to progress, Morello compares the Congressman’s appreciation of RATM to Charles Manson’s love for The Beatles and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s liking for Bruce Springsteen.
At the heart of Morello’s distaste for Ryan is “his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent.” He goes on to say Ryan has plenty of “rage,” but claims its “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.”
I am not posting this to critique Morello’s political views. He is entitled to believe what he believes. My concern here is how much weight people (especially the media) are giving his opinions. In my humble opinion, Morello is one of the most talented guitarists to grace the music scene in the last 20 years. He takes sounds and styles that most people would not have considered, and uses them to make interesting and entertaining melodies. The man can make music using feedback from an amplifier. Astounding.
Due mainly to Morello’s talent, I was a big RTM fan in high school and into college. I was also impressed with the way the band chose to intertwine their music and their activism. That being said, I generally could not care less what the band’s political ideologies are. I am a music fan for the music itself. I firmly believe that many of my favorite musicians would probably disagree with my political views. But that is fine. I don’t like them because of their political leanings. I like them because of their talent.
So, does it surprise me that Morello does not like Ryan? Not at all. Based on what I know about him, I wouldn’t think he would be a big fan of a fiscal and social conservative. Do I care? Not particularly. What I do care about is the fact that people, including some friends of mine, seem to think that Morello’s indictment of Ryan’s policies is worth their time and attention. Why? As a musician, what makes his political viewpoint worthwhile? I felt the same way when the media went crazy over the comments that Hank Williams Jr. made on Fox News last fall. The guy is a singer. Who cares what his political views are?
I am not saying that Morello should not voice his opinion. He is a public figure who has access to a microphone and a fan base. Go for it. Be heard. That said, I hope people that listen to him do so with a firm grasp on reality. He may be an amazing guitarist. He may even be an educated voter/activist. But it doesn’t mean he is right when he talks about Ryan or his policies. He is not an economist. He doesn’t have a PhD in political science. He is a musician.
I am a lawyer. When I speak about politics, people should keep in mind that I am not an economist, I am not a political science professor, and I am not a paid political pundit. I may have lived in DC for a decade and immersed myself in the culture, but it does not mean I am some sort of expert on the issues. Everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt. Same goes for Morello.