MADD: Stooges for Bin Laden?


If you enjoyed David Weigel's fine piece yesterday on kitschy visions of the Islamo-American dystopia, let me recommend one book about an Islamicized west that has some genuine literary merit: G.K. Chesterton's The Flying Inn. The novel includes some elements that will rub modern readers the wrong way—Chesterton drops the n-word like a gangsta rapper—but it's a delightfully peculiar satire both of Islam and of "progressive" puritanism. Philip Jenkins summarized it ably in an essay for Chronicles in 2001:

Chesterton was doubly alarmed to find that the Muslim rejection of wine–with all that it implied–was echoed by many good and rational non-Muslims in the early 20th century, those Christians and secular liberals who championed the prohibition of alcohol. Worse, those reformers were trying to remodel human behavior to eliminate the taste for wine–and often, they tried to impose their puritanical standards by seeking to eliminate meat….

In a striking imaginative leap, Chesterton used the symbol of the war against wine to present what might be described as the secular Islamicization of contemporary England and (by implication) the United States. One of his least-known novels is his bizarre 1914 work The Flying Inn, in which he depicts a near-future England in which secular progressives are riding high….The progressives hope to create a well-organized utopia, free of the curse of alcohol and purified from the horrors of (Christian) religious fanaticism. Then as now, the term "religious fanaticism" was defined as the obviously irrational idea that religious belief should make any difference to everyday conduct, especially when such amended conduct might cause any personal convenience to the believer or to those near him or her. If Christians behaved according to their lights, then they were ipso facto dissidents, who needed to have their personalities modified to conform to contemporary secular mores. So, too, did those bizarre and troublesome eccentrics who foil the schemes of social engineering by creating the "flying inn" of the title and organizing hit-and-run attacks that permit ordinary citizens to obtain their necessary booze and pub food.

The leading prohibitionist "moves neatly from representing the voice of Fabian or progressive idealism—the world of H.G. Wells or Bertrand Russell—to becoming a tool of organized Islam, which uses him as a convenient front man for the annexation of England."

Back in ought-four, our own Tim Cavanaugh penned an appreciation of Chesterton for The Rake.