• Axl Rosenberg


Last week, Tom Morello raged against Paul Ryan in an op-ed for Rolling Stone, and All That Remains’ Phil Labonte subsequently tweeted that Morello  is a “fool” and a “communist.” Now Labonte has released a statement regarding the consequential controversy surrounding his comments.

Because fair is fair, I’m going to post his entire statement, uninterrupted, after the jump. I’m also going to point out that he makes some valid points.

But I’m also also going to point out that, in general, he seems to be missing the point of why people are so cranky about what he said.

The bottom line is, Labonte called Morello a “fool,” and then claimed he never called Morello “dumb,” and that’s just not true. “Fool” and “dumb” are synonyms. And while Labonte is right that not everyone who went to Harvard is a smartie pants, there is a gray area between Forest Gump and Albert Einstein. He could have placed Morello in that gray area, but he didn’t; he also could have said “I called him an idiot and that was an overreaction based on my own passionate beliefs” (which, it’s worth noting, is under 140 characters and thus easily could have been tweeted), but he didn’t. He insulted Morello, and then he claimed he didn’t insult Morello — a claim he still clings to in this most recent statement.

I’m also also going to point out that there’s something funny about Labonte’s righteous indignation at what he believes is Morello’s call for a violent uprising, given that he has asserted that the right to bear arms — even automatic machine guns — is important for every American, since “The framers of our Constitution did not believe in standing armies” and “believed that a free people had the right and responsibility to secure their own safety, property and liberty” via violent means if necessary. Maybe Morello’s comments would have sat better with Labonte if Morello had also insisted that everyone use a silencer, too.

And on that note, here’s Labonte’s statement:

“Ok, so here we go. I’m taking the time to write this to clarify my 140 character comment on Tom Morello’s piece in Rolling Stone. I’ve caught a lot of heat over my remarks about it. Mostly from the metal blogs or individuals pointing out that he went to Harvard and I didn’t, so he must be right and I must be an idiot. Well I would submit to the left (the most vocal, angry and vitriolic about my comment) that GWB and Bill O’Reilly both went to Harvard. Does that make them infallible and brilliant? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

“Let me start by stating I do not support Romney/Ryan in the upcoming election. I am not a republican. I do not support statism. I know it’s hard for the far left and the far right to understand, but it’s true. I am called a ‘liberal’ by the far right for my opinion on drug policy, gay marriage, immigration, etc. I am called a “right wing nut” by the far left for my opinion on gun rights and fiscal policy. That myopic and lazy view of “right” and ‘left’ is what I am staunchly against. On to the point.

“I’ve never met Tom Morello so my comments were in no way meant to be a personal attack on his character. Though I do believe his political opinions are incoherent and foolish, I also believe he has good intentions. I said he’s a communist because I believe I have heard him call himself a communist. I have seen him wear a hat that said “COMMIE” on it in photos. [Like this one. -Ed.] If I am incorrect and my recollections are inaccurate and he is simply a socialist, then I would offer my apology. Regardless, that remark wasn’t intended to be an insult as so many people have portrayed it. It was a comment on what I believe his political ideology is, and again, if I am incorrect, I am sorry. But I don’t retract the core of my statement.

“I’m gonna quote Tom’s piece. ‘I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is… is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production?’ That one sentence speaks volumes about his perspective. He is advocating theft and the initiation of violence against a minority by the majority. That is immoral. Now I understand he is focusing his rage on “The 1%” and because of the minority in question, it’s socially acceptable to demonize them and call for theft and violence against them. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is calling for violence against, and seizure of the property of, a minority. In the piece he calls for “a more humane and just planet”. Is aggression and theft justice? Unequivocally no. It is my perspective as a libertarian, the best way to limit the power and influence of “The 1%” is to limit the power of government to influence society via legislation. If you have no favors to sell, you will have no one trying to buy favors. One may not share my libertarian views, but none the less, it is hard to reconcile advocating violence as somehow morally correct.

“He talks about covering ‘fuck the police’ and wonders if that is one of Ryan’s favorites. Yet he would need a powerful government who would use the police to force people into submission to further his agenda. His perspective and agendas could not be achieved any other way. This makes no sense.

“He condemns US imperialism, and I agree on this point, but then later in the piece he whimsically hopes that Paul Ryan is a mole who would ‘Throw US military support behind the Zapatistas’. Is that NOT a contradiction? He would condemn US intervention in one area of the world, but support it in another? Never mind the fact that constitutionally, not even the president, let alone the vice president, has the authority to do this. Again this makes no sense.

“In closing, if Tom’s perspective was not simply looking to use the force of government to further his own political predilections, I would retract my statement and offer a full apology. But I don’t believe any of the things he is advocating could be achieved without the force of government. Government is violence. Using violence to coerce is immoral. Tom’s perspective therefore is advocating violence and aggression, disguised as peace and unity. This is immoral and I’m not sorry for pointing that out.”

Discuss in the comments section below.


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