Tom Morello, activist, and lead guitarist of “Rage Against the Machine,” joins us to discuss the uses of music in protest, his latest album “The Atlas Underground Fire,” and his new gig writing op-eds for The New York Times. Also, child advocate, Robert Fellmeth, stops by to shed light on a situation right out of a Charles Dickens novel: the state stealing social security checks from foster children. Plus, Ralph answers your questions.
Tom Morello is an activist, podcaster, and musician, performing with Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and The Nightwatchman. His latest album is The Atlas Underground Fire. He is currently a featured opinion columnist for the New York Times, writing a 12-week series on music and activism.
[The point of songs about war is to], one, shine light into the darkest corners of the horrors of the military industrial complex. And also, in some ways the best– whether it’s rap, or whether it’s punk rock, or whether it’s the different bands I’ve been involved in– is to provide an alternate news source… Moving the goalpost for a set of ideas that is outside of those commonly accepted and digested by mainstream media.
One day if there is justice, and some sort of war crimes tribunal that holds accountable the Democrat and the Republican war criminals responsible for such torturous practices as Guantanamo Bay, that perhaps the perpetrators of those crimes– our elected officials and their cronies– would have the black hoods over their heads, the orange jumpsuits. And in that case, I would fully support cranking Rage Against the Machine 24 hours a day.
I think to some degree, that [the Occupy Wall Street] efforts were successful in at least orienting public consciousness towards an issue that has been front and center for you and I throughout our lives and careers. But it was not appearing anywhere near the front page of the New York Times. And that is economic injustice, economic equality, and the relentless class warfare of corporations against the working class.
Robert Fellmeth is the Price Professor of Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego and the Executive Director of the Center for Public Interest Law. He is also Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Institute, which authored The Fleecing of Foster Children: How We Confiscate Their Assets and Undermine Their Financial Security.
These are our children. I don’t mean in an ethereal sense that “All children are ours,” or whatever. These are different. These are children whose legal parents are state judges. Our state judges, that we pay, and that our public officials appoint, or sometimes they’re even elected. These are children who are our children in a very direct sense. So, when you [deprive foster children] of money they’re supposed to get– and children who need the money more than any other group–you can imagine… It’s a seminal, basic, ethical issue.
Robert Fellmeth, Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Institute
Back in the 1960s, no one [in Congress] answered my calls. No one answered my letters on auto safety. I would go up and down the Congress, I couldn’t find any help. But I was faced with a choice. I could either develop a smarter, more persistent strategy, and keep hoping that we can hit pay dirt in terms of a Congressional staffer and a Congressional committee. Or I could fly to Malibu and watch the whales. So, I decided that I was going to stick to it, and we got the legislation through.