2016 ought to go down as the year of the greatest mass delusion in history—a delusion beside which the witch manias, the South Sea bubble panic, and the Dutch tulip mania pale in comparison.
Unlike other collective delusions, however, this one has a twist. Social delusions and mass hysteria typically occur when large numbers of people become falsely convinced that some great disaster is imminent. In our times it’s the opposite: a great number of people have become fully convinced—despite all evidence to the contrary—of the nonexistence of an actual threat.
I refer, of course, to the resurgence of militant Islam and along with it the revival of the Islamic dream of a worldwide caliphate. Despite the daily occurrence of deadly jihad attacks in every corner of the globe, the elite opinion-makers have done their best to convince the rest of us that it’s all a tempest in a teapot—that the jihad involves only a tiny minority of extremists, and that it has nothing to do with Islam.
The most glaring example of this refusal to acknowledge reality was the official reaction on the part of Church, State, and media to the migration invasion of the European continent in 2015-16. Coming as it did on top of decades of Muslim migration, the sudden influx simply moved up the timeline for the Islamization of large parts of Europe. The “refugee crisis” only made it clear that Europe was in the midst of an historical transformation of massive proportions. Yet the official response was that it was nothing but a bump in the road. “We can do it,” insisted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the toll of migrant-related crime and rape increased daily. And as recently as last week, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said that the best way to fight terror is with “openness.”
That’s what it means to be under a delusion. As Einstein is reported to have said, “insanity means doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Juncker seems to believe that the openness which allowed terrorism to incubate in Europe is somehow the solution to terrorism. He’s not alone. Many Catholic prelates seem to be of the same mind. In an interview following the truck attack on a Christmas Market in Berlin, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, the head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, denied that Europe was in the midst of a “clash of civilizations.” The solution to the problem of terror, said the bishop, was for people to be “more tolerant.”
Not everyone went along with the delusion. In Europe, leaders such as Geert Wilders, Milos Zeman, and Victor Orban spoke out strongly against suicidal immigration policies. For a long time they were lonely voices, but 2016 seems to have been a watershed year. Recent polls show that a majority of Europeans now believe that Islam does not belong in Europe. 2016 may have been the year when the great delusion reached its height, but it may also turn out to be the year when average citizens at last awoke from the delusion.
In 1938, Orson Welles’ realistic radio narration of H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds caused a minor panic among many listeners. Under the influence of a skillful media manipulator, thousands of people believed that a Martian invasion of New Jersey and New York was in progress. The famous incident was a testimony not only to human gullibility, but also to the power of mass media.
Seventy-eight years later, skillful media manipulators convinced millions to believe that an actual Muslim invasion of Europe was nothing more than an alarmist invention. As a tidal wave of migrants and refugees swept over the Continent, Europeans were encouraged to go back to sleep. Muslim warlords and caliphs have long dreamed of conquering Europe. The migration invasion of 2015-2016 may prove to be the major breakthrough that makes that conquest possible. Or—if enough people wake up from their delusion—it may turn out to be the point at which Europeans began to push back against Islamists and also against the fifth columnists in the fourth estate.