Americans Furiously Debate Islam Vs. Russia While Plutocracy Kills Everyone

Caitlin Johnstone
5 min readNov 2, 2017


Ahh, good! It’s finally happening. We’re finally seeing American liberals and conservatives reaching across the gaping echo chamber divide to directly debate whose imaginary boogeyman is scarier: Russia… or Radical Islamic Terrorism™.

Conservatives insist that Islam is far scarier, citing the recent suicide-by-cop attempt of a Muslim man who committed vehicular mass murder in Manhattan before brandishing toy guns at police officers. Liberals are asserting that the attack is proof that Russia is clearly the greater threat, citing as evidence some imaginary alternate reality in which Uzbekistan is part of Russia.

Trump’s act of singling out Muslim immigrants in the wake of the attack was of course an inevitability, given the way America sent George W Bush’s approval ratings skyrocketing through the roof for his jingoistic “I’ll keep you safe from them” song and dance after 9/11. It was only a matter of time before we saw a president hurting for approval try the same schtick.

And of course Republicans are lapping it up, including intellectual giants like Laura Loomer who launched an outraged Twitter crusade against Muslim women who had the gall to walk around outside today, which she took as a personal affront on behalf of the entire nation.

I for one think it’s cool that liberals and conservatives are finally addressing the elephant in the room and engaging the “who has the better imaginary enemy” debate head-on. The Manhattan attack has forced a rare occurrence in which the made-up boogeymen of both mainstream partisan hack franchises are overlapping just enough for a few people to experience some dissonance and maybe get some insight into how fucking ridiculous they look all the time. Not many will, but a few might. I’ll take it.

Meanwhile, the nationless plutocracy which has loosely centralized its operations in the United States has created so much economic injustice that two-thirds of Americans would struggle to cover a crisis that cost $1,000 while depriving the nation’s citizens of social safety nets granted to everyone else in every other major country on earth, destroying the ecosystem with psychotic neoliberal deregulation and expansion, bombing countries all over the world that most Americans couldn’t find on a map, ramping up an increasingly militarized police state and Orwellian surveillance programs, and brainwashing the nation with establishment propaganda to convince them that this is all normal.

But yeah. Muslims and Putin, boooo, scary.

I talk about the Russia nonsense a lot (not sure if you’ve noticed), but because mainstream liberals have taken ownership of the issue I don’t often have an opportunity to talk about the way conservatives do literally the exact same thing with Islam. Since today they’re all busy babbling about how an Uzbekistani man is actually Russian, it feels like I’ve got a moment to get a word in edgewise.

Humanity is chock full of cultural mind viruses. Some of those are the result of establishment propaganda which convinces the masses to support existing power structures in spite of overwhelming evidence that it is not in their interest to do so. Some of them are the result of countless generations of demonizing groups of people for the benefit of existing power structures. Some of them are the result of pernicious advertising methods for products which profit the plutocrats who rule in existing power structures. Some of them are the product of religions which were used to prop up existing power structures.

Noticing a pattern here?

I am as ferociously cynical about religion as anyone, but ultimately religion has only ever been a vehicle for the proto-propaganda of historical power structures. It is to a king’s benefit to have a populace that values humility, poverty and service, who will “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and go to war when told, who won’t kill the rich and take their gold or rock the boat of existing power structures, and you’ll find those commandments interwoven with the teachings of every major world religion on earth. Religion and political power have been so closely intertwined throughout the history of civilization because they prop one another up.

The priest’s primary function has always been to tell you that your immortal soul depends on your paying your taxes and obeying the king. Some long-dead people long ago wrote some rules to help make this happen. This is as true of Islam as it is of any other religion.

This is why I don’t see Islam itself as the problem. Ambitious men invented and promulgated it many centuries ago for the purposes of injecting mind viruses into the public for their benefit, and to this day it is used for that purpose. It is interwoven through the law of existing governments, used to rally people toward violent uprisings, and used to manipulate the public into passivity and compliance whenever it benefits powerful men to do so. It is also used as a convenient enemy for non-Muslim power structures in exactly the same way. The problem is therefore not the religion, but the manipulation.

Did you know that Iraq didn’t have a suicide bombing problem until after the US invasion? The rapey tentacles of the plutocratic war machine have been destroying lives in Muslim nations everywhere, and every time a Muslim flips out and kills some people Americans still stare in Bambi-eyed shock asking “Why do they hate us???” They are told by pundits and politicians that it’s because of their freedom, that Radical Islamic Terrorism™ is naturally opposed to the free and the good, and it is therefore necessary to ramp up interventionism in those nations even more, which, surprise surprise, just so happens to work to the benefit of existing power structures.

It’s not about Islam, it’s about power structures. Islam has been interwoven with the violence of humanity just as other cultural mind viruses like Christianity, Maoism, and corporatism, but the problem underlying all of it is that there are sociopathic manipulators who are just pulling whatever levers are available to them in their slice of history and geography in order to control as many humans as possible.

It’s not about Islam, and it’s ultimately not even about western imperialism either. Western imperialism is just a tool of powerful elites for expanding their control and influence. Ultimately the problem is that we as a species are too easy to manipulate by humans without consciences, and we’re going to have to evolve beyond it. When that happens, the problem with Islam, as well as the problem with corporatism and imperialism, will end. And not a moment sooner.

— — —

Hey you, thanks for reading! My work is entirely reader-funded so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following me on Twitter, and maybe throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal.