“Testify” – Rage Against The Machine
It’s late and I’m going to ramble a bit.
Today marks exactly one year and one day since the start of the Occupy Wall Street movement. A movement largely ignored or condemned by the media but which resonated, and continues to resonate, with millions of Americans and citizens across the globe.
Missed out on the whole OWS thing? Too busy watching the Jersey Shore? Here’s a brief sampling of the plethora of gripes about our national insanity: America, as a country, spends roughly one billion dollars a day fighting a now 11 year war in Afghanistan. Despite the thousands of military contractors remaining (read: lawless, unaccountable, expensive cowboys) we’ve decreed “mission accomplished”—for the second time—on a failed war in Iraq which has left a country and a people divided, depleted, and in despair, and America impoverished, angry, and in constant concocted fear. We have 139 bases worldwide. We arm governments, sell weapons, train and prop up dictators, stage coup’s, support freedom when it’s convenient, beat the war drum when it gets us political points, are homophobic, sexist, religiously intolerant and fanatical. 1% of us hide over 5 trillion dollars in offshore accounts and trusts. We put profit over people, politics over reason, and we are petty. Our hypocritical leaders ensure a steady stream of bold face lies are constantly broadcast. We pretend that we aren’t a nation of immigrants. We care about football and bacon cheeseburgers. We show no signs of caring about human suffering. We pollute for profit. We drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and take drugs with side effects like “anal bleeding, paralysis, stroke, possible death” but we can’t smoke a joint. We spend our efforts trying to close abortion clinics and teach creationism rather than deal with actual problems. We condemn the Julian Assanges, Bradley Birkenfileds, and Wendel Potters. We detain people in secret prisons, waterboard and torture them. We pay our teachers squat and force them to be soulless uninspired test preppers. We keep drilling, keep poking, keep prodding, and it seems we just don’t want to learn. Of course, we do great things too. But for every amazing thing that we do right, it seems we do two bigger things wrong.
And people wonder why other countries hate our guts.
Still, out there scattered amongst the scary actual majority (composed of assholes and imbeciles, the evil-and-they-know-its and the just-don’t-know-any-betters), there are the reasonable people. The people who tell us to take a deep breath—to chill the hell out and relax when we get too crazy, or to wake the hell up and look at what’s going on when we get too complacent. And among the reasonable people, there are the creative gifted ones, able to spread powerful messages through unique mediums still far enough out of the reach of Rupert Murdoch.
Music is one of those mediums, and Rage Against the Machine, the American rock band, are four of those people. Tom Morello—the bands most outspoken activist and early Occupy supporter—absolutely wails on guitar. Zack de la Rocha belts with his one-in-7-billion voice. Tim Commerford on bass and Brad Wilk on drums create a 15-foot-thick lead backbone with flare to match.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t stare at these guys with boyish awe and don’t suggest you do either. When they say jump, I don’t ask how high. And I would not vote for any of them to be President. But history—real history—I guarantee is going to look at this band and say that they were as close to having their finger on the pulse of the world as anyone. Their imagery in this video alone conveys things that no news organization would or probably ever truly could fully elucidate. And while things are more complicated than really anybody can convey, and even the reasonable people are victims of oversimplication, this is a side of the story well worth listening to, and a host of emotions worth letting well up, even if only briefly at such intensity.
Testify, a cut off of the bands third album, The Battle of Los Angeles, gives new meaning to George Orwell’s quote, “who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past”. I’m sure he had no idea how good that quote would sound belted by Zack de la Rocha.
Crank it, and keep your ear to the ground.