What does Killing in the Name mean?

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Rage Against the Machine: Killing in the Name Meaning

Song Released: 1992

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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...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 20th 2007 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.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    soad interpreter
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    Aug 26th 2005 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.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 17th 2008 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

  4. anonymous
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    Mar 28th 2021 report

    I don't know how A God Fearing Person could be in the category of Those who work forces, it's difficult to Put any particular situation on it's Meaning, it covers EVERYTHING that is Controlled by A Power. Problem with Religion is it's Man Made to catering any particular power However Anyone who Follows God's Commands Does Not See Color in anyone but the Person's Integrity. God said test every spirit to be certain it is Good or Evil, the Song has a Deep meaning that covers so much However A God Fearing man it does not apply to. Religion is the cause of All Kinds of Wickedness that Creates the monsters They sing about. Our Creator is Love Is Care our Creator DEMANDS Us TO Love eachother NO matter what, EVEN LOVE OUR ENEMIES. That is Following our Creator Not Following "Religions".

  5. anonymous
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    Nov 25th 2020 report

    It's NOT about racist cops, but about being brainwashed into killing and dying for a cause that only furthers *someone else's* agenda.
    The killers are glorified as heroes; the slain are martyred.

    So, in America, you say your Pledge every day, bow down to the flag, and then go off to kill/die for some f**king politician who's just making some billionaire even richer (while getting his pocket filled in the process).

    The killing only ends when the soldiers (who are told what to do) stand up, throw down their arm and say, "F**k you, I won't do what you tell me!"

  6. anonymous
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    Jul 23rd 2018 report

    Blue by day; white by night. It still goes on, and they also rape and kill women, gays, trans-genders, and poor, liberal whites. They have been known to attack or harass anybody that they don't like that they perceive is powerless enough to prey upon, anyone who is in the way of them acquiring a piece of land or a resource that they want. Jews, too. We stumbled on a crew of them out in the woods one night back in the med-80s. We barely got of there alive. There is link between the KKK, skinheads, certain military members, certain national security agencies, and some of the satanic cults, too. Some of them are nice Christians and free masons by day. Some of are wealthy; some are politicians. Some are preachers. You'd be surprised who is in some of these racist, misogynist, homophobic, anti-Semetic cults. They keep a socially, acceptable persona, but do bad deeds in secret. Read the book, The Franklin Cover-Up; read about Michael Aquino, of The Satanic Church, at The Presidio in California; and learn about MKULTRA to get some understanding. There is cross networking among some of these secret groups.

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  7. anonymous
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    Jun 5th 2018 report

    Remember your badge they're the chosen whites. Badge police badge. It's about racist cops!! Some of those that work forces, police forces, are the same that burn crosses. Kkk burning crosses! Racist cops. Zac supposedly has religion shoved down his throat as a kid, he isn't talking about bOre crosses it IS burn crosses.

  8. anonymous
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    Nov 4th 2017 report

    I’m not sure about any of this... I get the lyrics that these people are talking about, but I’ve also heard another variation of the song that goes “Some of those that want forces, are the same that hold office”. It makes a shit ton of sense, have the Bush’s in office, Nixon, Trump... both variations make sense, but all I ever see on the lyric sights is the ‘work forces’ version. I heard the ‘office’ version on the radio a bunch of times, but it’s hard to find the lyrics to that one anywhere!

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  9. anonymous
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    Nov 14th 2013 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).

  10. anonymous
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    Jun 18th 2011 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

  11. anonymous
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    Dec 7th 2010 report

    I'm in the beginning days on this forum. I definitely remorseful in search my english, but I'm noiselessness learning. I would like to invite you on my websites:
    The 1st is where you can find a unqualifiedly tidy program, other program which I recommended is
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  12. anonymous
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    Sep 8th 2009 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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  13. anonymous
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    May 18th 2009 report

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

  14. anonymous
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    May 9th 2009 report

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

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  15. anonymous
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    Oct 30th 2008 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

  16. anonymous
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    Jul 31st 2008 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)

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  17. anonymous
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    Jul 14th 2008 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.

  18. anonymous
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    Feb 19th 2008 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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