Monday, April 9, 2012

Chesterton the Pundit

    This comes under the heading of "nothing new under the sun."  Remember all the denunciations of "violent" imagery and rhetoric over the past few years?  Sarah Palin was called out for using "target" symbols on a campaign map... and then it turned out the Democrats had used similar graphics elsewhere.  After Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot by some lunatic, many media figures and politicians blamed the "right" for using language that inflamed passions to such a degree that things like this were bound to happen.  As it turned out, the lunatic was left-leaning if anything in his delusions, and on top of that, a little research showed that many of the denouncers used identical words and metaphors they were now decrying.  This even included President Obama with his infamous "if they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun" line.
    So it was quite funny to run across the following as I was reading G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Horne Fisher, the hero of the stories, is visiting a political operative of Fisher's opponent in a contest for a seat in Parliament.  Mr. Gryce would be a familiar face on cable TV were he around today:

"Mr. Horne Fisher, I believe," said Mr. Gryce.  "Much honored by the call, of course. Can't pretend to congratulate you on entering the contest, I'm afraid; you won't expect that. Here we've been keeping the old flag flying for freedom and reform, and you come in and break the battle line."
For Mr. Elijah Gryce abounded in military metaphors and in denunciations of militarism. 
Could there be a more concise yet devastating blow against the political hypocrisy we witness today?  Chesterton wrote this in 1922.  I do not always share Chesterton's views, but I find his writing as sharp as Twain and Wodehouse.  And thanks to Project Gutenberg, the price can't be beat.

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