French psychologist Gustave Le Bon, illustrating “the mental state of crowds,” wrote about the extent to which the manager of a popular theater of his day used off-stage theatrics to make it almost impossible for his audience to distinguish the “real” from the “unreal.”
“[The manager] in consequence of his only playing sombre dramas, was obliged to have the actor who took the part of the traitor protected on his leaving the theatre to defend him against the violence of the spectators, indignant at the crimes, imaginary though they were, which the traitor had committed,” Le Bon wrote in his most popular work, The Crowd (1896).
Unconsciously, spectators became victims of illusions, made to laugh or cry over “imaginary adventures.” In a similar way, some of the most despotic conquerors and movements in history depended on creating “strong impressions” that captured the public imagination. The power and strength of nations, Le Bon wrote, hangs on the popular imagination. It is moved and molded by the creators of illusions.
A crowd thinks in images,” he wrote. “… It is not, then, the facts in themselves that strike the popular imagination, but the way in which they take place and are brought under notice.”
Democrats call that controlling the narrative. More obsessed with controlling narratives than governing, they’ve been on a frenzy, not only to shape the public imagination, but to attack people who get in their way, no matter how blatantly obvious the truth is.
Record inflation is “zero inflation.” A decline in GDP for two consecutive quarters is not a recession. COVID is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The border is closed. Men can give birth. White supremacists are America’s greatest threat. The vote in 2020 was the “most secure election” in American history. Soft-on-crime policies reduce crime. And the Afghanistan pullout was an “extraordinary success.”
Of all Biden’s illusions, the catastrophic pullout in Afghanistan was the most revealing of how far his administration would go to fictionalize the meaning of things, even after so much blood, treasure, and American prestige had been lost. Since then, the same delusions that led to the swift downfall of Afghanistan is threatening to sink America into Third World chaos.
In a leaked July 2021 conversation between himself and then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Biden was so obsessed with shaping public perception that he seemed blind to the deadly situation growing on the ground.
“Hey look,” Biden said, “… as you know and I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things aren’t going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban. And there’s a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”
Politely desperate, Ghani tried to paint a picture of reality.
“Mr. President, we are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists – predominantly Pakistanis – thrown into this, so that dimension needs to be taken account of.”
That was the last time Biden spoke with Ghani before he fled the country weeks later as Kabul fell to the Taliban without resistance within days, not the six months to a year that U.S intelligence predicted.
Things went downhill from there.
We saw the U.S. military ending America’s longest war by shutting off the electricity at Bagram Airfield and leaving in the dead of night without telling the Afghan commander. We saw the military leave $7 billion in military weapons and equipment to the Taliban.
We saw a young dentist and a teen soccer player clinging to the wings of departing U.S. aircraft, then plummeting to their deaths shortly after takeoff. The soccer player’s remains were found on a rooftop four miles from the airport. Neither had ever lived under Taliban rule. We saw throngs of Afghanis – God knows who among them – sardined inside U.S. aircraft making frantic non-stop, back-to-back flights from Kabul airport under a black cloud of Taliban threats. We saw an ISIS splinter group wound and kill hundreds of Afghans, including U.S. servicemembers.
And we saw Biden and his generals quickly partnering with a vicious enemy, describing them as “business-like” and “professional” as they were going door-to-door to hunt down Afghanis who had worked with Americans.
The world saw it, too.
“The way the Afghan operation has finished,” wrote author Douglas Murray, “is a colossal, massive, generational screw-up.”
Members of the House of Lords seethed openly.
Lord Robathan: “…we should not underestimate the disaster and humiliation that this has been. This is a humiliation of the West, of NATO, of us, of course, but especially of the U.S. – which, apparently, leads the free world, or so we are told.
Lord Blencathra: “What Biden has done in Afghanistan will go down in ignominy as one of the most shameful and despicable acts of betrayal by any American president.
As with the border crisis, inflation, crime and so many other issues, Biden and the Democrats got busy concocting an illusion. There was a need, in the face of global acrimony, to project a different picture – whether it was true or not.
So, in some of the most awkward speeches in American history, Biden, his generals, and members of his party described the panicked evacuations as “an extraordinary success.” Nancy Pelosi called it a “historic evacuation” that was “remarkable.”
I wrote at the time that, of all the horrific moments in Biden’s administration, this was the one where he needed to be held accountable. If this man as president could, with mind-numbing callousness, leave thousands of Americans in the claws of proven butchers and carry on the next day as if it never happened, he is capable of anything.
But most remarkably, although no honest person was fooled by the administration’s illusions of “imaginary adventures,” after many misadventures, tidal waves of words condemning it all, and a year later, Biden and the Democrats still have never been held accountable.
They’ve only gotten worse.
One year later, young Afghan women born during 20 years of freedom have been beaten back to the 7th century. Girls, forced to marry Taliban members, are not allowed to attend school. Mothers and fathers are selling their children for food. Many are selling their organs for food.
An Afghani woman who fled to America years ago told me, through tears, this week that the new situation in Afghanistan is indescribably bleak. Her cousin, who worked with the U.S. military, has moved over the last year to flee certain death. After thinking about what that country has become over the past year, she was exhausted.
“The world has gone mad,” she said, mentioning, not only the human debris after the pullout, but the crime, division and craziness that’s flourished in America’s post-George Floyd world. “The world is no longer kind.”
You wouldn’t blame people like her if she questioned whether she’s been a “victim of illusions” to believe that America – the land of the free and the home of the brave – has always been far above the chaos of absurdities and contradictions seen in Third World countries.
If this administration is not held accountable for the horrendous Afghanistan pullout, the shameless theatrics afterwards, and for all the drama that has, since then, damaged so many lives, we are all at risk of the American dream becoming an “imaginary adventure.”