ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian says that he doesn't understand why people get so upset by celebrities using their fame and status to bring attention to contemporary political issues. "Look, everybody has opinions," he told Landry.Audio (hear audio below). "I see it online. I'll see entertainers — whether they're musicians or actors or whoever… painters; it doesn't matter — I see entertainers make public statements through social media one way or the other, and there's this immediate reaction, generally from a lot of the hide-behind-the-computer-screen trolls of the Internet, who say, 'You should keep your mouth shut and stick to what you're doing. Go write songs. Don't comment on this. You don't know anything about this.' And I just always find that interesting, because it's just opinion. A guy who paints houses for a living has just as much right to his opinion as the guy playing bass in a big rock band. Everyone has an opinion, so why, if someone in a band has something to say politically… You know what? If you don't like it, well, then no one's forcing you to follow them on social media. And that goes either way — left or right. I'm not saying that [about] someone who says something pro-Trump or anti-Trump. Everyone has their right, and if you don't like it, instead of wasting your time… Anyone who's sitting there worrying about what some dude in a band is saying about politics and getting upset about it, and then actually taking the time to write about it, really, to my mind, has too much time on their hands. Who the fuck has time to sit around and read political commentary on Twitter anyway? And if that's where you're getting your news, well, then that's also a problem."
Scott continued: "Look, I have a million opinions about all kinds of things on this planet, and I don't give a shit what anyone else has to say about it, because they're my opinions. And I give the respect to anybody else on this planet — no matter what they do, no matter where they come from, they have the right to their opinion. That's the country we live in — we're allowed to have opinions, still; we still are. Even with everything going on these days, amazingly enough, we're still allowed to have opinions. So I always find it kind of discouraging when people try to shut down someone else's opinion and tell them to 'shut up and to 'stick to what you know.' 'Cause how do you know the person making this comment, how do you know they haven't been studying this for decades and they might know more about politics than these talking heads on television who supposedly are political commentators. You don't fucking know. So let people speak. Who gives a shit?"
Ian also talked about America as a divided country, with talking heads fighting from the left and right and its citizens unable to discuss issues with civility.
"Yeah, the polarization in this country has really become… it's really annoying, to put it bluntly, to me," he said. "I really don't understand it. I don't really understand why people can't even have a conversation anymore about things. It's almost like there's no conversation to be had; there's either 'you're right' and 'you're wrong' or 'I'm right and you're wrong.' There's no middle ground anymore.
"Look, I've been around a long time," he continued. "I've been of voting age for 36 years now, and I've never seen anything [like this]. I thought it was bad in the '80s. When Reagan was president, people didn't like him and all that, and when George W. Bush was president, that caused a lot of problems. And when Obama was president, and people didn't like him, or the Clintons. There's always gonna be… Not everyone's gonna be happy with the person [in the Oval Office]. People talk about John Kennedy with rose-colored glasses, but I fucking watched Ken Burns's '[The] Vietnam [War]' [10-part American television documentary series about the Vietnam War]. That motherfucker is the reason why, basically, 50,000 Americans died because he didn't get us out of the war when he could've. And people look back at him with these rose-colored glasses of, 'Oh, John F. Kennedy. When America still had its innocence.' It's, like, no — America never had innocence."
Ian went on to mock President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan. The phrase has been a rallying cry for Trump's supporters, many of whom felt they were losing power within their country, and their country was losing its power within the world.
Scott said: "My question has been, ever since I've seen that… I love the idea in theory, but my question is, when was [America last great]? 'Make America Great Again'. When are they talking about? When do they want it to be like? When women couldn't vote? Or blacks didn't have the same rights as white people? I could go on and on with a list. I'm trying to figure out when they're talking about — when is this time?
"Look, don't get me wrong — I love my country; I love America and all the opportunities I've been afforded because I was lucky enough to be born as an American," he continued. "I love it here. But you know what? I'm also a student of history; it's something I've been a student of since I was a little kid, learning history in school, and then, of my own volition, going out and reading books.
"In my short lifetime on this planet, I lived through a lot of crazy shit on this planet," he said. "And America, we're a young country. I tend to think a lot of people like to think we're the leaders of the world and all this crap, but you know what? We're like a nine-year-old child compared to the rest of the world. We haven't been around that long, and we're a very, very young country.
"So, going back to that slogan, 'Make America Great Again,' I just feel like that's a question that nobody can answer," he added. "If I was to pose that question to somebody: well, when was that? Maybe when we first got our independence from the British? But even then, everyone was slave owners at that point. So, yeah, we gained our independence and everything that came with that, yet that was cool for white people. Pretty much anytime in the history of this country since 1776, it would be very easy to throw a wrench into the idea of 'when America was great,' because there's always been a dark side — there's always been that.
"Look, I understand people have an idea of how they would love this country to be, but you've gotta remember what was really going on. When people look back and go, 'Oh, things were so great back in the post-World War II 1950s,' and then it would very easy to come up with a list of all the fucking things that were not good at that same time. Don't get me started on civil rights."
Scott admitted to being annoyed by the intensity and political weaponizing of misinformation, with President Donald Trump calling most media outlets "fake news," particularly those that report negatively about him.
"I'm a student of history — I really am," Ian said. "So that's why I feel like if I have an opinion on something, it's based in fact; it's not fake news. History is history. Things have happened that are real. They happened; you can't deny them. So it's frustrating — it's frustrating that facts don't seem to matter so much anymore. And that, to me, is really fucking scary."