Rage's Mesoamerican anthem “People of the Sun” may well have kindled in Ryan an early respect for the indigenous people of Mexico, exposing him to the creation myth of the five suns and introducing him to the last Aztec emperor Cuauhtémoc, who defended Mexico City from the Spanish conquerers, but was later captured and executed. ‘With their borders and boots on top of us Pulling knobs on the floor of this toxic metropolis But how you gonna get what you need to ta get? The gut eaters, blood-drenched get offensive like Tet The fifth sun sets, get back, re-claim The spirit of Cuauhtémoc, alive an untamed.’
While listening to “Year of tha Boomerang,” Ryan may have rethought the wisdom of locking immigrants in detention for civil violations, we are guessing. That alleged reflection possibly played a role in getting him to back a pathway to citizenship. “Aw, power to tha people 'Cause tha bosses right ta live is mine ta die So I'm goin' out heavy sorta like Mount Tai With tha five centuries of penitentiaries so let tha guilty hang In tha year of tha boomerang.”
It was when Ryan first heard this ode to ethnic studies, maybe, that he possibly began to view the cultural chauvinism of European-descended Americans in the public school system as an obstacle to the mutual understanding necessary to create a just immigration system. “The present curriculum I put my fist in 'em Eurocentric every last one of 'em See right through the red, white and blue disguise With lecture I puncture the structure of lies Installed in our minds and attempting To hold us back We've got to take it back Holes in our spirit causin' tears and fears One-sided stories for years and years and years I'm inferior? Who's inferior? Yeah, we need to check the interior Of the system that cares about only one culture And that is why We gotta take the power back."
It is not totally out of the realm of possibility that when listening to “Vietnow,” Ryan stopped to reflect on how rightwing radio demonizes undocumented immigrants by portraying them as “illegal.” “Flex tha cerebellum, fire, uh! Somebody gotta shell 'em These evil angels lists, hittin' tha AM playlist Paid ta say this That one inhuman, illegal, single woman Tha one without a movement The transmissions wippin' our backs Yeah, comin' down like bats from Stacy Koon Terror's tha product ya push Well I'm a truth addict, ah shit I got a headrush!”
Many undocumented immigrants who have entered the United States in recent years worked in agriculture in Mexico and took up similar work here. So perhaps when Ryan heard this song, he wondered whether those who immigrate in search of jobs deserve to be stigmatized as criminals while those who profit from an unjust agricultural labor system on both sides of the border live lives of wealth and prestige. “Landlords and power whores On my people they took turns Dispute the suits I ignite And then watch em burn.”
Following the revelation during last year’s presidential race that Rage Against the Machine was one of Paul Ryan’s favorite bands, many wondered whether the conservative Wisconsin congressman had ever paid attention to the band’s lyrics.
Rage’s former guitarist Tom Morello wrote a stinging assault on the irony of Ryan’s music taste in Rolling Stone last year, pointing out:
I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "Fuck the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!
Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: 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. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions.
But it's possible that at least some of Rage’s lyrics may have had an impact on Ryan.
As Real Clear Politics reports today, Ryan is emerging as a key leader on immigration reform, teaming up with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Il.) of Illinois to help the controversial legislation pass through the House of Representatives, where it will face an uphill battle. This is one issue where Rage and Ryan share at least some common ground.
Fronted by radical Chicano lyricist Zack de la Rocha, Rage Against the Machine often invoked Mexican-American themes and railed against the injustices that immigrants face in the United States.
We can neither confirm nor deny that the Rage Against the Machine lyrics noted above may or may not have inspired Paul Ryan to support immigration reform, allegedly.
Check out the slideshow above to see five Rage Against the Machine lyrics that may have inspired Paul Ryan to back immigration reform.