Philip Labonte caused quite the commotion via Twitter by calling out Tom Morello as “a communist and fool” in response to his Rolling Stone op-ed regarding Republican Vice Presidential hopeful Paul Ryan. Many have criticized the comments, while others have also shown support for the All That Remains singer. Regardless, the tweets cause such a large response that Labonte released a statement of clarification.
In an attempt to clarify his comments about the Rage Against The Machine guitarist and political stance, Labonte had the following to say:
“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.
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.”
Whether you agree with Labonte or not, there’s one thing that is certain: in no way is he sorry for his comments or political views. And in truth, he has just as much right to voice his thoughts on the matter as Morello did in his Rolling Stone op-ed (Labonte just so happened to choose a Twitter and a press release instead of a publication). We’ll have to wait and see if this is just the start of an extended debate, though with the presidential elections right around the corner, we’re sure it is.