The Biden Administration’s Ghost Dance

The Biden Administration’s Ghost Dance
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Near the end of the Indian Wars, the Ghost Dance phenomenon swept through multiple tribes. The movement had two phases. Its inaugural season started in 1869 or 1870, when Northern Paiute tribesman Tävibo first preached the message that the hated white man would soon vanish from the earth while the spirits of Indians long dead would return to life. Unfortunately for Tävibo, he named specific dates when this would take place, and the movement died with the calendar. It was revived in 1889 by Northern Paiute tribesman Wovoka. Avoiding the first go-round’s mistake of naming a specific timeline, its main tenet stated that should the remaining members of the tribe perform the dance accurately and faithfully, the ghosts of ancestors long since passed would return to life and return to the earth as would the herds of buffalo and wild horses that had been hunted to near extinction. Along with the returning animals, the earth itself would return and rejuvenate, first covered with new soil that would bury all the white people and then bursting forth with sweetgrass, trees, and running water. Unsurprisingly the movement caught on among multiple tribes, not the least of which was the Lakota Sioux who added additional elements such as the ghost shirt, made of white muslin with sacred designs added. Its wearers believed the shirt had the power to stop bullets. It didn’t, and the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 ended via death or disillusionment the overwhelming majority of Ghost Dance followers.

At its core, the Ghost Dance was an exercise in extreme wishful thinking, a falsely-placed belief in ceremony and ritual somehow bringing about a supernatural transformation of both the earth and history. It professed that if unrelated, and as it turned out utterly irrelevant, actions and words were performed regarding the bitter truth on hand, a magic utopian state of being would come forth. It didn’t work. It could never work. No such scenario will ever work.

So why is the Biden administration performing its own Ghost Dance?

As Jeff Charles precisely noted here earlier, the administration is carrying on as if the withdrawal from Afghanistan has been, and continues to be, a roaring success. It is anything but. The administration makes jokes about Americans being left behind even as the main conduit for evacuations, namely the Kabul airport, is rapidly becoming a no-man’s land. We are abandoning our allies in the country who almost certainly will pay the ultimate price at the Taliban’s hands for working with the infidels. And yet we see … well, this:


Life has never been made to be what one wishes it to be by simply wishing. Most of us learn this along the way as we pass from childhood into adulthood. Most of us learn that lying will invariably reap the whirlwind. Most of us accept, perhaps grudgingly but still accept, that actions, including our own, have inescapable consequences. Most of us. The rest have discovered lacking these things is a prerequisite for employment in Washington DC.

The illusion of the last Ghost Dance was shattered in a massacre. I simultaneously pray and fear the current one will persist until faced with the same ghastly horror.

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