Rage Against the Machine Detail History Behind ‘Killing in the Name’ in Mini-Doc

Rage Against the Machine detail the grim American history behind their 1991 anthem “Killing in the Name” in a new mini-documentary.

The 15-minute film Killing in Thy Name, a collaboration with the arts collective the Ummah Chroma, features a teacher educating a small group of students about “the fiction known as whiteness” as well as the United States’ history of racial and social oppression. The mini-doc also features quotations from historians like Howard Zinn and live footage of Rage Against the Machine performing the track, which bizarrely became a pro-Trump rallying cry following the 2020 presidential election.

“Living in the States, you’re living in one of the most brutal societies in the history of the world,” Zack de la Rocha says in an archival interview within the film.

“The country who inherited the genocide of the Native American people. A country which participated in slavery. Any society or any government or any system that is set up solely to profit a wealthy class while the majority of the people toil and suffer and sell their labor power, so long as that system’s only true motive is profit interest and not the maintenance and the betterment of the population, to meeting human needs, then that society should not stand. It should be challenged and questioned and overthrown.”

“My mom [Mary Morello] is a white woman with a radical voice,” guitarist Tom Morello says in the film. “For three decades she was a progressive teacher in a conservative high school inspiring students to challenge the system – in her actions and words she has always taught that racism must never be ignored and must always be confronted.” Morello also detailed the birth of the song in an interview for Rolling Stone Music Now.

Rage Against the Machine’s much-anticipated 2020 “Public Service Announcement” reunion tour — a planned lead-up to the presidential election — was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic; rescheduled dates have not yet been announced.