Truman’s diary entry after the testing of the atomic bomb:
We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.
This was an intelligent man’s reaction to that of the atomic, followed by the decision to drop two of these creations on predominantly civilian islands in Japan. Some say more lives would have been lost if guns and knives were the fallback. Some say that’s bullshit. Truman would say five years later on this day in 1950 upon learning of the Russian’s development of a thermonuclear bomb theorized to be 100 times more powerful that “we have no choice” but to create our very own H-bomb.
Rage Against the Machine didn’t write “Calm Like a Bomb” about Truman or the H-bomb race 50 years later. But they did write it about “the riot be the rhyme of the unheard,” among myriad civil atrocities, Zach de la Rocha whispering before the chorus explodes with Tom Morello’s genius “pterodactyl” guitar gnar.
One of the political-stinging band’s finest songs for the common man, or anyone increasingly not in control of decisions governing their lives — i.e., the dropping of a weapon known as “hell” — it’s a perfect capsule of art used as a vessel for social change. Or as de la Rocha spits in the second verse: “The anti-myth rhythm rock shocker.” Of which he caps with an eery repeated epilogue that just makes the idea of a bomb so much more frightening:
There’s a right to obey
And there’s the right to kill