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Tom Morello Defends Friendship with Ted Nugent: I Have the “Right to Be Friends with Anybody”

"It can be important to keep an open dialogue with people you disagree with"

tom morello ted nugent friends
Tom Morello (photo by Amy Harris), Ted Nugent (via TedNugent.com)
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    Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello has once again defended his unlikely friendship with right-wing rocker Ted Nugent.

    The pair make an odd couple, for sure, considering Morello’s left-leaning politics and associations with anarchy and socialism. In a new interview, the guitarist stressed the importance of keeping an open dialogue with those you disagree with.

    “I reserve the right to be friends with anybody,” Morello told NME. “I reserve the right to confront opinions I disagree with, with open heartedness and love, or by throwing a brick. That’s up to me.”

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    He continued: “In the case of Ted, I know he’s become this right-wing caricature but there have been several times where I have reached him on issues that you might be surprised about. But he is still crazy uncle Ted who says all sorts of shit.”

    Tom is definitely right about the last part. Nugent was recently confronted at a poorly-attended rally in Michigan when he called Black Lives Matter a “terrorist organization.” Before that, he’s spewed a litany of falsities regarding COVID-19 and the pandemic before testing positive for the virus himself.

    Naturally, Morello has had to explain his bizarre friendship to curious journalists. He acknowledges the differences between himself and Nugent, but also values the contrast.

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    “It can be important to keep an open dialogue with people you disagree with, especially in this global community of disagreements,” Morello said. “Sometimes it’s just as important to block them, though.”

    Previously, Morello had said the two bonded over being world-class guitarists and staunch free-speech advocates.

    “Sometimes, if he says something outrageous that will fire up his racist base, I’ll text him to say, ‘Dude. What are you on about?’” Morello told Howard Stern earlier this year. “We’re able to talk about it as friends as opposed to people on the opposite sides of the barricade.”

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    That interview with Stern prompted one person on Twitter to accuse Morello of “white privilege,” to which the guitarist simply responded, “I’m not white.”

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