No net ground won or lost in the latest Culture War battles

The latest skirmishes in the Culture War have resulted in a wash, according to experts reading the field journal of the decades-long battle, Lingua Franca.

In the latest issue, experts note, queer theorists made surprising inroads in recently abandoned territory with the publication of Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and the National Interest (New York University Press), following a path previously hewn by cultural warrior Toni Morrison, who argued that Bill Clinton was America’s first black president, despite the rather obvious fact that the man is white, even pastily so. (Morrison employed stereotype, usually a dangerous weapon, to argue for Clinton’s blackness, because he was born into a single-parent household, liked junk food and saxophone music, and was hounded for his sexuality.)

Queer theorist Tyler Curtain led Operation: Our Monica, writing that Clinton was also the nation’s “first queer [president] as well,” despite the rather obvious fact that the man is heterosexual, even lustily so. Noting Clinton’s gift of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass to Monica Lewinsky and Monica’s particular return favor to the President (which is not technically sexual intercourse, depending upon the meaning of is), Curtain wrote, “Any queerly enculturated gay man will recognize the acts and the objects.”

Other Cultural Warriors quickly rushed into the breach. One had Clinton as the first female president; another, the first black female president; and one (obviously not a “team player”), the first white-trash president.

In another foray, pedophilia scholar James Kincaid (quoted in the July/August 2000 Clarion as saying that spanking gave parents “drooling erotic satisfaction”) pronounced the Clinton/Lewinsky affair “unerotic” because “neither Monica nor Bill can be thought of as children,” making it “hard for us to see them as enticing.”

Meanwhile, one of the towering citadels of these Cultural Warriors fell under intense fire in a surprise attack. Several Catholic and Christian theorists successfully put forth the idea that Oscar Wilde was a closet Catholic and “latent Christian” who wrote religious allegory.

Opening rounds of this siege came from the Reverend Antonio Spadaro, S.J., in the November 2000 issue of the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, Joseph Pearce in The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, and Jeffrey Tucker in the Catholic magazine Crisis. Tucker even went so far as to claim that Jesus “was truly [Wilde’s] lifelong lover” — a devastating blow.

Another biographer, Michael Coren, wrote in the National Post that “Wilde was not really homosexual at all, and only ‘used’ young men because he had venereal disease and feared infecting young men.” Coren did allow for the possibility that Wilde might have been bisexual, but it is uncertain at this time whether that clarification will be sufficient to regain the citadel.