Rage Against the machine’s revolutionary voice is highly significant when talking about protests against the offshore policies of prior and present US governments. All the way through their existence, RATM’s members participated in several political protests in support of their beliefs as a politically active band. Here are some explanations/quotes from their front man Zack De La Rocha:”I’m interested in spreading those ideas through art, because music has the power to cross borders, to break military sieges and to establish real dialogue.”Tom Morello (Lead Guitar) also says that “America touts itself as the land of the free, but the number one freedom that you and I have is the freedom to enter into a subservient role in the workplace. Once you exercise this freedom you’ve lost all control over what you do, what is produced, and how it is produced. And in the end, the product doesn’t belong to you. The only way you can avoid bosses and jobs is if you don’t care about making a living. Which leads to the second freedom: the freedom to starve.”Such honesty is expressed in songs such their big hit “Killing in the name of” which mocks the government with lines such “DO WHAT I TELL YOU!” and others.
The US government accused the band of being hypocrites. In response to such critiques, Morello respond: ”When you live in a capitalistic society, the currency of the dissemination of information goes through capitalistic channels. Would Noam Chomsky object to his works being sold at Barnes & Noble? No, because that’s where people buy their books. We’re not interested in preaching to just the converted. It’s great to play abandoned squats run by anarchists, but it’s also great to be able to reach people with a revolutionary message, people from Granada Hills to Stuttgart”.
Now, let’s move to some of Rage Against the Machine’s live performances: at the Coachella 2007 performance, De la Rocha made an impassioned speech during “Wake Up”, citing a statement by Noam Chomsky regarding the Nuremberg Trials and subsequent actions by US presidents:”A good friend of ours once said that if the same laws were applied to U.S. presidents as were applied to the Nazis after World War II, every single one of them, every last rich white one of them from Truman on, would have been hung to death and shot—and this current administration is no exception. They should be hung, and tried, and shot. As any war criminal should be.”
After the show, the speech was broadcasted on Fox News: a conservative commentator (a guest on the show) stated, “They’re losers, their fans are losers, and there’s a lot of violence coming from the left wing.”
After that, Rage headlined the Rock the Bells Festival on July 28th and during their show, De La Rocha made another statement, defending the band in a vicious matter from who he so-called misquoted his speech at Coachella:“A couple of months ago, those fascist motherfuckers at the Fox News Network attempted to pin this band into a corner by suggesting that we said that the president should be assassinated. Nah, what we said was that he should be brought to trial as a war criminal and hung and shot. THAT’S what we said. And we don’t back away from the position because the real assassin is Bush, and Cheney and the whole administration for the lives they have destroyed here and in Iraq. They’re the ones. And what they refused to air which was far more provocative in my mind and in the minds of my bandmates is this: that this system has become so brutal and vicious and cruel that it needs to start wars and profit from the destruction around the world in order to survive as a world power. THAT’s what we said. And we refuse not to stand up, we refuse to back down from that position.”
On August 27th 2008, Rage Against the Machine played a free concert in Denver at the Denver Coliseum during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in a effort to protest against the war in Iraq. After the concert, the band joined members of The Coup and Flobots in an anti-war protest march from the Denver Coliseum to the Pepsi Center led by Iraqi Veterans Against the War. (You can find this Concert on DVD, and it’s highly recommended).