Who's 'Clueless'? Paul Ryan or Rage Against the Machine?

Paul Ryan claims fondness for the music of Rage Against the Machine, a leftist and union-backing grunge group.  Ryan specified that the music -- rather than lyrics -- forms the attraction.  For this, the band's outraged lead singer Tom Morello recently took to the pages of Rolling Stone magazine to denounce Ryan as "clueless." 

"Ryan is the embodiment of the Machine our music Rages against!" raved Morello.  "Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing," he continued.  "Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn't understand them.  Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn't understand him.  And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine."

Rage Against the Machine honor Che Guevara as their icon and fifth band member.  "We've considered Che a fifth band member for a long time now," gushed Tom Morello, "for the simple reason that he exemplifies the integrity and revolutionary ideals to which we aspire."  The Stalinist's image appears on their amps and CD covers.

Let's consider the two issues, and hope that Morello is merely "clueless" regarding Che Guevara.  Otherwise, he's got some serious "'splainin' to do," as Ricky Ricardo used to tell "Looooo-cy!"  

A rock group (RATM) boasts that the central inspiration to their music and image is the co-founder of a Stalinist regime that outlawed rock music, graffiti, and "disrespect to authorities" -- all under penalty of forced labor, torture, and firing squad.

Rage Against the Machine's icon and inspiration co-founded a regime that jailed more of its subjects than Stalin's and murdered more people in its first three years than Hitler's in its first six, while outlawing everything from voting to private property to jokes about "revolutionary leaders" to rock music -- again, all under penalty of prison or firing squad.

In a famous speech in 1961, Che Guevara denounced the very "spirit of rebellion" as "reprehensible."  "Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental mandates!" commanded Guevara.  "Instead, they must dedicate themselves to study, work, and military service."

Union activists (RATM) have made central to their music and image a Stalinist who outlawed strikes under penalty of prison and firing squad.  

"By no means can Cuban workers go on strike!" declared Cuba's "Minister of Industries" (Che Guevara) on June 26, 1961.  "Cuban workers must adjust to life [as] a collectivist social order!"

In 1959, with the help of KGB specialists, Tom Morello's icon helped found, train, and indoctrinate Cuba's secret police.  "Always interrogate your prisoners at night," Che ordered his goons.  "A man's resistance is always lower at night."  Today, the world's largest image of Morello's hero adorns Cuba's Ministry of the Interior, the headquarters for Cuba's Stasi- and KGB-trained secret police.  Nothing could be more fitting.

The man glorified on RATM's amplifiers and CD covers adopted and enforced decrees against rebellious youth drafted by Stalin's police chief Lavrenti Beria during the Great Terror.  Che Guevara also cheekily signed his correspondences "Stalin II."

Tom Morello, by the way, professes pride in his black heritage.  "The Negro is indolent and spends his money on frivolities and drink," wrote Che Guevara in his Motorcycle Diaries.  "The European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent. ... The negro has maintained his racial purity by his well known habit of avoiding baths."  The regime Che co-founded jailed and tortured the longest-suffering black political prisoners in modern history.

So who's clueless here?

Why, Paul Ryan, of course, according to the media.   

Had Tom Morello been born three decades earlier and in Cuba and attempted the "grunge" lifestyle, he'd have found himself digging ditches and mass graves in a prison camp system inspired by the man glorified on his amplifier.  Had his digging lagged, a "groovy" Czech machine-gun butt might have shattered his teeth or perhaps some "groovy" Soviet bayonets slashed his buttocks.

And woe to those youths "who stayed up late at night and thus reported to work (government forced-labor) tardily."  Youth, wrote Guevara, "should learn to think and act as a mass."  Those who "chose their own path" (as in growing long hair and listening to "Yankee-Imperialist" rock 'n' roll) were denounced as worthless "lumpen" and "delinquents."  In a famous speech Che Guevara even vowed "to make individualism disappear from Cuba!  It is criminal to think of individuals!"

Tens of thousands of Cuban youths learned that Che Guevara's admonitions were more than idle bombast.  In Che Guevara, the hundreds of Soviet KGB and East German Stasi torturers who flooded Cuba in the early '60s found an extremely eager acolyte.  By the mid-'60s, the crime of a "rocker" lifestyle or effeminate behavior got thousands of youths yanked off Cuba's streets and parks by secret police and dumped in prison camps with "Work Will Make Men Out of You" in bold letters above the gate and with machine-gunners posted on the watchtowers.  The initials for these camps were UMAP, not GULAG, but the conditions were identical.

But don't take it from me.  Take it from a relatively recent escapee from the regime Che Guevara co-founded, and a grunge-rocker to boot.  "In Cuba freedom is nonexistent" he told Mexico's Proceso magazine.  "The regime demands submission. It persecutes all hippies, homosexuals, poets and free thinkers. It employs total repression against them."

This grunge-rockers name is Canek Sanchez Guevara -- Ernesto "Che" Guevara's very grandson.  The regime co-founded by his grandfather jailed and tortured Canek for the crime of trying to play some rock music unsanctioned by the Stalinist authorities.  Tom Morello might profit from a "jam session" with fellow guitarist Canek Guevara.

Paul Ryan, on the other hand, probably has a clue about Che.

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