In the scorching San Bernardino heat, I tried to track down Immortal Technique for a good two hours at Rock The Bells. His cold, comfortable trailer had been untouched all through the day when I found him outside in the sun, at his merch booth, a few hours into signing autographs and talking to fans.
After a half a day of doing this, everywhere he walked, people rushed to him every few steps of the way: fans asking to take pictures, fellow artists talking about past and future collaborations, women who wanted to flirt and shower him with hugs. It was never-ending. And he respectfully and good-naturedly gave every single one of these people his limited time.
When it was time for our interview, he looked around and said, “I don’t even know where my trailer is.” I showed him the way and as the door closed behind us, his sociable disposition disappeared immediately as his deep eyes intently awaited my questions.
Immortal Technique is not in the game to fuck around. He is a machine on a mission that does not stop. And once his body ceases to move, his brain kicks in overtime.
Ani: In the wake of the Zimmerman verdit, you engaged your 200,000+ Twitter followers in a very eye-opening dialogue about race-relations in modern-day America as well as in the historically in the world. What prompted that dialogue?
Immortal Technique: The most important thing for me was to facilitate a dialogue about race and racism and there were people who contacted me who were Caucasian who said “Yo, listen, I feel like every time I talk about race, people call me a Racist. So can we have a conversation about that?” And I said, “Sure. Let’s talk about Race in America. Let’s talk about the Mythology about Race. Let’s talk about the mythology of America, because that’s intrinsically linked to Race.”
For example, some little-known facts are that when Europeans first colonized this continent, that massive amounts of Europeans defected from those colonies. They didn’t wanna be in a Puritan society, they didn’t wanna be with people who ordered them how to pray. They claimed that they were coming here looking for Religious Freedom. So if that’s the case, and you’re based on a Capitalist society, why can’t you admit that the reason you came here-dispelling the Mythology of America, which was the point of that whole conversation-you didn’t come here just for religious freedom and looking for new lands, you came here for Gold. You came here looking for Slaves. You came here looking for women and land that you could steal. Why don’t you be honest about that with yourself as a human being and that way we get to the core of the real problem.
The other thing is this: In the same way that for example, the Soviet Union, when it held on to Eastern Europe, couldn’t explain how if their brand of society was superior-as they claimed-to American Capitalism, everybody kept running away and trying to get over to the other side. The Europeans could not explain, “How is it that we have massive defections from a European society to an Indigenous society that’s supposed to be quote unquote “inferior,” full of “savages?” And that’s very important. Why? Because Native-Americans judge people based on the merit of who people Were. How did you Act? I don’t care if you’re white, I don’t care if you’re from Ireland. I don’t care if you’re from Italy. I don’t care if you’re from England. Europeans had a hierarchy amongst themselves the same way people from the Caucus region do, the same way people from Latin America and from Asian countries do, the same way people in Islamic societies in the Middle East do…but they said to themselves, “This is ridiculous, when you come to us from another culture, what you put into this society is what you get.”
Now obviously, nothing was perfect. It’s still a human society. But at the same time, we had people that were giving a willingness for mobility within the society to say, “You can be part of us and we’re not gonna treat you like property.” I’m not saying Native Americans never had slaves, I’m saying that when their societies were pitched against European societies, people could not explain the mass defections, which were punishable by corporal and capital punishment. Same thing that we see in places like East Germany or the former Czechoslovakian state, where people wanted to leave, they wanted to run away. But at the same time, they can’t explain that. And I think, when you get to that, that’s the whole point of it.
If I can facilitate a dialogue about these things that exist in our society and that permeate every relationship that a government has and get down to the human relations of it, then I can begin to heal-at least in the inner circle that I have-the cancer of Racism. Because I think that it’s about time that that became extinct. And maybe I can’t stop it completely, but I feel like if I can at least wake up a few people who are blind to its existence, people who don’t even think that it exists- ’cause unfortunately those are the most affected by Racism-those people that think that Racism doesn’t exist. That it’s just something that the NAACP does. I mean, I’ve seen people on the internet that go, “Oh, the NAACP and the KKK are the same thing!” Uh, no. The NAACP ain’t never lynched motherfuckers. They never murderedpeople for profit like that. Are you kidding me? They never tried to justify a legacy of chattel slavery.
So I think that it was really me destroying a lot of social lies that were constructed by ultra-conservative, right-wing factions that I felt needed to be addressed at that particular time.
Ani: All great societies were built on slave labor. Why do you think that Africa, which is the richest continent as far as natural resources in the world, is the poorest, statistically worse-off continent?
Technique: Lack of Unity. Specific division. The British were incredible at that, the French were incredible at that, and I think that they hide behind their “civilization” and “culture” when in reality, they presented the image of a “Civilized Barbarian” to the rest of the world. In other words, Ani, who’s more civilized? The African dude in the loin cloth who’s tending sheep and goats in West Africa, who is half-naked because it’s 120 degrees, who’s Gods are the Earth, and the spirits of Stream and Wood and Forest, Water and Air, who’s the more savage, him or the religious fanatic from Europe in the 13th century who hops off a boat, full of armor, unshaven, who is such a zealot and an extremist that he thinks dinosaur bones are put in the ground to test the faith of humanity, who thinks that he can excuse his behavior by putting someone in irons who is not of his exact demographic.
Ani: So how did that behavior win out?
Technique: Because I think that the human race is, honestly, confined to the behavior of a talking monkey. I think the danger that we face right now, Ani, is that when we go to a museum, and we see “Australopithecus” we see “Homo habilis” “Homo erectus” “Neanderthal” “Cro-Magnon” I think we’re in danger of some little kid a thousand years from now walking into a futuristic museum and saying, “Oh, there’s Homo sapien sapien: the well-groomed, superstitious, warrior-monkey that used to talk. And he harnessed the power of the Atom, but for all his incredible inventions, he was still limited by his incapacity to control his emotions. By his own ego, and his own over-inflated sense of self-importance. He thought the universe revolved around him. He thought that the Earth belonged to him instead of him belonging to the Earth. No respect for nation, no respect for nature, no respect for his fellow man, seeing that it’s OK to kill somebody, or it’s not as bad, if they’re not from the same demographic as they are.”
In other words, I see conservative Christian people who are so gung-ho about abortion and “we’re killing babies” but you don’t mind killing Iraqi babies. But if they were Christian white babies, you’d have a problem with that. But because they’re Muslim, dark-skinned children, you don’t care. That makes you a fake Christian to me.
Ani: And it goes back to Trayvon.
Technique: Not just to him. And I think that’s where I would differ in this. To me, I think the Trayvon Martin case was completely mishandled by the prosecution. I think that instead of focusing on Race, solely, they should’ve focused on the fact that this was still a child, that this was still a human being that was destroyed, unnecessarily. That if we’re talking about the social construct of race, what difference would it have made? Would George Zimmerman have followed a well-to-do looking, light-skinned, half-Latino, half-White kid who’s skipping in the rain, as he described him in the Sean Hannity interview? Skipping. In the rain. But that’s different. I think that when you talk about the media, they also have to share some of the blame and responsibility.
When you show people on welfare, this has nothing to do with Trayvon. When you show people on welfare, you show black people, even though the majority of people on welfare are white women. But you don’t show white women, you don’t show white working-class women. This county has always used white working-class people as a buffer. To not expose the real issue of Classism. They’ve always wanted to focus on Racism, because Classism is what will bleed this fuckin’ country. If poor and disenfranchised white people say to themselves, “Goddamit, what the fuck are we getting out of this? We’re told to blame immigrants but its not the immigrants who are making money out of this. It’s these multi-national corporations that ship these jobs over to America, so that they can make a profit that has nothing to do with helping anybody else ’cause trickle-down economics was never part of the problem. It was never part of the issue. You know why it was never a part of the problem? Cause it was never part of the solution. They didn’t give a fuck about that.
Ani: It does’t even make sense, that whole theory and idea of trickle-down economics.
Technique: Right, because the re-investment per-capita is not there.
Ani: “Take what you can get and be happy” is really what fucking “trickle-down” means. Literally.
Technique: In other words, “we’re peeing on you.”
Ani: Syria. I’m not even going to ask a question. I’m just going to say the word and let you take it from there.
Technique: (sighs) I know a lot of people on both sides of this debate, and the people that I’ve talked to that are pro-rebels will tell me, “Yes, we know we’re making a deal with the devil. We know that we’re getting money funded through slush-funds from America, that lie about them, saying ‘We have never supported the Syrian rebels.’” Of course you have, you’ve been giving them money through all your vassal states: Turkey, you’re a vassal state of America. I don’t know if you realize that, but America has more to do with the policies that you have in your country, even if it seems that they’re against them. Saudi Arabia, as proud as you are of your Wahhabi culture, you’re a vassal state to America. They have more military bases in your country than they do in any state, individually, in America.
I don’t know if you realize this, but Israel is the biggest welfare state-no disrespect to any people of the Jewish faith-is the biggest welfare state that America keeps. They keep it afloat. Without American dollars, there would be no Israel. I think what’s important to note about these things is that those people say, “Yes, we know we’re are making a deal with the devil. But we’re trying to get rid of another devil.” The problem that I have with that, is that even though I can’t support a dictator, like Bashar al-Assad, his supporters, I’m afraid sometimes, I’ve had conversations where these people are delusional, they’ll tell me, “No, he’s never abused his power, he’s never abused any people.” And I’m just like, “Yo dude, in order for you to run a non-Democratic government, where you have not been voted into power…to have a lock on everything in the military, you have to rule with an iron fist.”
Now obviously, his father was more of a ruthless dictator than he was, and Bashar al-Assad was welcomed as a reformer, in many communities actually. I remind people of this, he was invited to stay at Buckingham Palace, he was greeted as a hero. Same way a lot of the Afghan rebels were by American society. They said, “Yeah, even though these people are radical, and we radicalize them in the name of getting rid of the Russians, we wanted to do that.” That history is now lost. And I think what people don’t understand, is that if you look at both sides of the equation, America refuses to allow Russia and China to come to the table. In the same way that the NeoCons like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, when they were bleeding Russia and Afghanistan, said, “You know what, we’re not gonna let you leave with your grace, we’re gonna bleed you ultimately. This is an ultimatum, an ultimate ‘Fuck You.’ This is a Rape of your society. If you want to have your troops home, they can be home tomorrow, pull them out.”
Imagine if someone that said to America, “If you wanna get out of Afghanistan, your troops can be home tomorrow.” But what is the issue? The issue is, “How can I pull them out and not seem like I’m a coward, like I’m running away?” That’s what America refuses to do stubbornly and that’s why it lost so many tens of thousands of troops in Vietnam, and if we had the same medicine that we had back then that we do now in Iraq, we would have a similar casualty rate. What we have now is people that have been maimed and had their bodies half destroyed, so the body count is technically lower, but unfortunately, when I think about it, in terms of Syria, I find it very hard to consider that John Kerry cares about the lives of 400 Syrian children, when you don’t care about the hundreds of children that have been killed in Pakistan by your drones. You don’t care about the “collateral damage.” Obviously, a lot of people that have talked to me say that they need global positioning in the area, that this is the original part of the diagram, and something that I really wanna share before I get out of here, cause I really do have to get the fuck outta here, but… some history:
Before WWI, the powers of Europe decided that they would carve up the Ottoman Empire, the sick man of Europe. And everybody got their slice. The Russians took the entire Caucus region. They said “Since you have the Russian-Turkish War, we’ll help you.” And England, France, everybody else said “Ok, you know what we’ll do? We’ll give you all the Caucus: Chechnya, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia.” That’s why they’re willing to trade pieces with America. They said, “Oh, word? Since we backed the Serbians and you wanna carve Kosovo out?” What happened, they played tit-for-tat, ’cause right afterwards, if you remember, they went into Georgia and they said, “We’re gonna carve out South Ossetia.” And if you look at it, it’s pretty much geographically the same amount of land that the other people took.
So it was a clear message to America that says: If you wanna fuck around in our backyard, we’re gonna fuck around with the people that think you’re gonna help them. Because at the end of the day, you’re not gonna commit troops to Georgia, that’s our slice.
When we went into Iraq, the French said, “We don’t wanna go.” Why, because Sykes-Picot divided the region like this: The Caucus region to Russia. Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Palestine, Jordan, would go to England. Now England brought in America as a Junior partner that’s now taken over. And France’s slice was Syria and Lebanon. Now if you remember, they said, “We don’t wanna go to Iraq.” Why? Because that’s not their slice. They didn’t give a fuck about that. So when they were gonna go to Iraq, people said, “Oh, the French don’t have the stomach for war.” How? They’ve been involved in every War since the very fuckin’ beginning. Get the fuck outta here.
Now if you think Sykes-Picot doesn’t affect things today, look at the reversal ten years from now. France is ready to go to war for Syria. Because it’s their slice. And who said No to war in Syria now? England. Because England’s slice is Iraq. England’s slice is Egypt. England’s slice is not Syria and Lebanon. So that little treaty that took place almost a hundred years ago still affects how European Powers see that zone today. And they say to themselves, “That’s mine, it’s always been mine. And the leaders will do what I say they need to do.”
And unfortunately, that’s why I tell people, “Don’t be worried about what the Patriot Act does today, be worried about what in a hundred years, they’re gonna use to justify it.
People tell me that I’m controversial because I discuss certain issues. No, I’m not controversial, those issues are controversial. If we say that we’ll attack people who use chemical weapons, and we still use, for example, depleted uranium that’s now caused more birth defects in Iraq than Agent Orange did in Vietnam, I’m not controversial for bringing that up. The United States’ government is controversial for having that in its arsenal.
If we’re talking about I’m controversial for bringing up the fact that there is a double standard on chemical weapons and there is a double standard on the way you mutilate and abuse your own people, and the way we didn’t pay any attention to the uprisings in Bahrain, and all these other places in the Middle East, and in Jordan, where people wanted the Monarchy the fuck out, because the Monarchy is the ultimate betrayal of Democracy, alright? That’s the most ruthless form of it. The most concentrated form of Oligarchy. If that’s the case, then are people not obliged to recognize that double standard? And I think that more people, when they’re doing that, really do awaken other people. Talk to people about it. Create a dialogue.
I know that everybody’s not on the same page. I know there’s some people out there, like I said, my friends, God bless ‘em, I can understand yo, I can’t take anything away from your pain. If you legitimately had your family oppressed by that government, if you legitimately been disenfranchised by the al-Assad government and they’ve taken over and they’ve killed your family, I can understand why you would want him out. But realize that your movement has now been hijacked by people that will come in and will use you to say “We decide the future of Syria.”
And in my heart, I think the future of Syria should not be decided by a dictator, it should not be decided by Jihadists and paid mercenaries along with them, it should not be decided by Turkey and Kataar, and Israel and Saudi Arabia and America and France, I believe the future of Syria should be decided by the Syrian people.