What does Killing in the Name mean?

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Rage Against the Machine: Killing in the Name Meaning

Song Released: 1992

Killing in the Name Lyrics

Killing in the name of!
Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses (x4)

Killing in the name of!
Killing in the name of

And now you do what they told ya (x11)
But now you do what they told ya
Well now you do what...


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    Aug 20th, 2007 8:34am report

    Yea, this song is about cops being members of the KKK, and racist people of power who abuse that power, "Some of those that work forces (hold office) are the same that burn crosses."

    However, it is much more than that. The song is about empowerment. A man, after realizing how fucked up authority has screwed him, rebels and defies commanding police officers with a big "FUCK YOU". He learns from the voice of Zach that people of color have defied and killed, and that people have moronically honored slain racists cops.

    The song is speaking to someone of color (not white) who has been apprehended by racists cops. The voice reminds the individual that some cops have killed because of racism, and that some people of color have stood up against the cops and killed cops because of the injustices and aggressions of racist cops.

    The line, "Killing in the name of", therefore has two meanings. Another hint that the line is referring to cops being killed is the change in one of the other lines, "Some of those that were forces, are the same that bore crosses." Were and bore is used in the past tense (before the racist cops got what was coming).

    "And now you do what they told ya." The apprehended individual obeys the commands of the police because we are taught to obey law enforcement.

    "Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
    You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites." This line is referring to police officers being honored simply because they are cops. The death of these cops, (who were racists), is in the context of a person of color fighting back against the injustice done against him. People honoring the dead cops overlook why they were killed.

    "Yeah! Come on!" This line speaks directly to the apprehended individual. It is satirizing the previous line of honoring racists pigs.

    "Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me." The realization of the injustice finally hits the person. As the previous lines sink in on the mind of the individual he gradually becomes angrier. He goes from a simple defiance to a full on rebellion and disregard for fucking authority, "Motherfuckers".

    And that's my interpretation and I'm sticking to it. Rage on.


    soad interpreter
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    Aug 26th, 2005 8:53pm report

    This song is about racist KKK-member cops from the 50s and racist politics of the KKK. Chosen whites is the KKK and so is those who burnt crosses and work forces and police. At their concert, they said some of those that burnt crosses are the same that hold office. They could not put it on their CD, but it's talking about dirty racist politics.


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    Aug 17th, 2008 8:40am report

    I belive killing in the name of's meaning is hiden given to us in the title, I belive that the bands opinion was that killing is killing, and wether one kills in the name of somthing or not, it is exactly the same as killing for any other reason.
    zack often changes the lyrics of the song to "Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses" (which is what it is on the original pressing)to "Some of those that burn crosses are the same that hold office" when playing live. It is also sometimes changed to "Some of those that work forces are the same that burn churches".
    it also trys to explain the submision of our free wills and minds in the lines "and now your under control, and now you do what they tell you". but in the lines" fuck you, I won't do what you tell me", they expres that they will not submit themselves to that system that is trying to oppress thier voices.
    rage rages on, this summur, I wish I could be at one of thier reunion concerts, but sadly, I can't make it.
    joe mallard


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    Nov 14th, 2013 11:41am report

    Wow. It's "bore" crosses not "burn" crosses. It means that the forces (military) bore crosses (were Christian) and killed people, and when they die it was justified that they killed said people because of the fact they were Christian (chosen whites).


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    Jun 18th, 2011 6:06am report

    I don't get how Rage likes Che since CHe was racist and said ..The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations."

    Then again Rage ..is rockin but their politics kinda suck ...whatever sells I guess


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    Dec 7th, 2010 12:54am report

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    Sep 8th, 2009 9:09am report

    this song is about how cops in the 60's were KKK and used their power as cops to do their "work". lyrics such as "and now you do what they told ya" refers to the people that these cops took


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    May 18th, 2009 5:13pm report

    This song talks about the armed forces and KKK...


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    May 9th, 2009 5:53pm report

    obviously all rage songs are story lines that zach de la rocha makes up to act out with his action figures...duuh!....


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    Oct 30th, 2008 10:19am report

    I think that guy that talks about how everyone is a devil worshiper is a noob he has no idea of what he is talking about


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    Jul 31st, 2008 7:08am report

    Also it's something to do with the whole satanist thing as he does the sign when he's saying 'Those that die are justified (devil worshiper hang sign) for wearing the badge they're the chosen whites'

    The KKK are also satanists, along with many other politics,famous actors, stores e.g. Starbucks.

    George Bush is the most famous one.

    Youtube it.
    And stop the NewWorldOrder (The Mordern day apocalypse)

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    Jul 14th, 2008 7:21am report

    The top meaning is pretty spot on I think. But to beef it up a bit I think he's also talking about Albert Pike and his crew. Albert Pike was THE grandmaster of freemasonry and a founder of the kkk. The freemasons are suspected of "working forces" and many of the presidents who have held office were freemasons.


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    Feb 19th, 2008 2:15pm report

    I believe that this song has a more modern message to it. It is definitely about the KKK. However, I also think it's about violence from racist Labor Unions, that attack minority workers due to fear of job competition.
    "some of those who WORK FORCES/are the same that burn crosses."

    Before the Civil Rights movement, some minorities, like African-Americans and Latinos, were victims of Lynching by white mobs, not necessarily of the KKK.
    So that's my piece of this puzzle. Whether it will fit or not, I don't know.

    By the way, RATM Rocks!
    I'm glad they got back together.


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    Dec 12th, 2007 12:18pm report

    It's about the KKK and saying fuck you too authority...."fuck you I won't do what you tell me"


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    Oct 3rd, 2007 10:49pm report

    I agree with most of you about the KKK, and not with that "watto" idiot. Listening to this song makes me angry, or almost any RATM song.


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    Feb 15th, 2007 2:21pm report

    It's about the KKK in police and government. This is really simple.


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    Jan 22nd, 2007 1:59am report

    People in the US for the most part just follow along with the norm and don't worry about the fronts that the system and all of the people in it put on.


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    Dec 11th, 2006 12:01am report

    ya yall said it .....its a very easy song to understand like people of the sun both speak for themselves

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