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Culture Wars, Inc.

A MORALITY TALE ABRIDGED FOR MODERN READERS

By Hilarious Bookbinder | March 2019
Hilarious Bookbinder (a pen name) teaches and writes at the intersections of political philosophy and literature and Christianity and culture. Bookbinder has long participated in the renovation and preservation of the Catholic literary tradition — as editor, publisher, and writer of poetry and fiction.

When Cosmoception Corporation, Inc. sponsored Rachard’s Coming Out of the Closet Celebration, in addition to donating $100,000 worth of tax-deductible, cruelty-free cosmetics, wearable by anyone who would attend the cosmically publicized, high-profile occasion, the company — in a grand display of liberality and even munificence — ordered 77 square feet of rainbow-striped Noachide™ sheet cake from Redneck Delicacies, Inc., a small shop tucked into the crude shadows of the Appalachians. With this gesture, which approximately four-ninths of the Board of Directors had contested hotly in the rather chilly, ecologically air-conditioned 70th-floor suite of its New York City high-rise, Cosmoception wished to signal its concern for Poor Whites, a population too many progressives had euthanized from the maps of their politics, their policies, and their pities.

But those fricking hicks responded to this act of magnanimity with an overnighted fruitcake, a dense and folksy eat coated in fire-and-brimstone frosting and overlaid with a cartooned coffin that, cracked open, contained a vasectomy forceps caped and costumed like a vampire. Underneath, in grim frosting font, they tallied the latest national birth and death rates, the latter surpassing the former. Tucked into a recycled debt-collections envelope, Redneck Delicacies included a hand-scrawled note — riddled with misspellings and reeking of odious grammar. I here paraphrase the note, which is written in a rare sub-dialect of Hick: In honor of Rachard’s “cur-rage,” their eldest sons would spend the whole weekend winding oversized, unregistered pickups through the mountains’ unpoliced upper echelons, sending up smoky braids of carbon emission like burnt offerings to Gaia, inhaling the noxious fumes like rare incense, begging the “Primordial Mother Goddess” to elevate the water levels already and usher in another Flood.

But just as Daddy Redneck was winding wasteful orbits of tape around the package of pure Poor White backwardness, the family’s mother penned a proper P.S. that read:

Dear Child of the Living God, as the Scripture sayeth and the old black spiritual singeth:

God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time!

News of the fruitcake quaked the heart of Cosmoception Corporation’s Sovereign Executive Autarch (S.E.A.) just as she was starting her humanitarian stint as an Unpaid Volunteer at Tactical Offspring Clinic. But the S.E.A. put on positive thinking like a prophylactic and ignored into nonexistence this visitation from allegedly human persons who supposedly shared her sapiential species. Though she was visibly stunned, a coterie of photographers managed to conjure semi-erotic poses from her humble administrative efforts — even though “All I’m doing, really,” she told one young reporter, “is giving back to my community. I mean, the Universe has given me the ability to rationally plan really well, so…I mean, it brings me pleasure to turn the chaos of the filing cabinet into something clean, well ordered…a kind of small, behind-the-scenes way for me to help the doctors in what they’re doing. ’Cause believe me, no one wants me overseeing the surgery table!”

Someone, she went on, had to spotlight the consequences of aborted government funding, most of which was now being wasted on narrowly heterosexual “family values” initiatives. During the 15-minute break Tactical Offspring guarantees all Humanitarians, she courageously held her nose and powerwalked through a clouded pocket of souls whose impoverished circumstances and incompetent educational institutions led them to relieve their stress with menthol cigarettes and glugs of unidentified substances wrapped in brown paper bags rather than through a selected assortment of Ayurvedic diet, Morning Yoga, and Occasional Meditation on the Fact that the Universe Is Comprised Solely of Atoms and the Void and so, well, Ditch the Fear-Mongering, Mind-Muddling Superstitions of Religion and Ratchet Up Your Pleasure Before You Crumble Like a Gluten-Free Cookie.

One of her wage slaves waved her into the back of the company van, where an inflatable infrared sauna smiled upon the stressed-out S.E.A. and sustained sweet and sweaty detox for seven straight minutes. Emerging, she changed from her $4,000 powder-white power-suit into a discount (“mechanically made in an authentic sweatshop”) outfit she’d had one of her lackeys pick out from Big Box ’R Us, a “common person” one she’d meant to put on this morning to mark her altruistic self-emptying in the slums.

+++

On her way back to the clinic, the S.E.A. paused for two minutes at an Anti-Disestablishmentarianism & Anti-Discrimination Rally, wooed over by a glossy doctored photograph one of the participants fisted over the crowd: Above a string of police officers hosing collapsing protesters to the cement, a blue-uniformed effigy hung from a noose, the edges of its clothing orange with devouring flames. Below the photograph, in fire-engine red, the sign read:

God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time!

Seeing the Corporate Celebrity settle into the crowd, a double-agent activist handed her a placard that read “Nothing Really Matters,” his hand deftly covering everything but the word “Matters” as he vested this slogan upon her shoulder pads. The heat had gotten to her head. She swayed, shouting words dredged up from her last rally: “My Body, My Choice.” Dizzied and demoralized by the widening gyre that separated her from her fellow protesters, she found herself tallying the Queer and Brown members of the Cosmoception Board of Directors, birthing the same self-satisfied smile that emerged into the world nine months after she started taking Beatific Vision™. (More than a mere selective serotonin uptake inhibitor, Beatific Vision™ selectively limits its takers’ self-knowledge. Whereas the product’s designer had initially mapped a medicine that would achieve the opposite — total self-knowledge — early trials in apes and several well-hushed hominoid cases found that absolute, unregulated self-understanding resulted in instant death. And so the final, marketable brand allowed consumers to choose, according to an ever-improving range of categories, which elements of themselves they would rather not know.) Smiling, she did not understand why the rest of the rallying cooked her with contempt. She did not know the cause of the pepper spray that irrigated her eyes.

Later, recovering in Our Lady of the Seven Dolors Hospital, her wage slave wafting lavender essential oils under her bandaged nose, the Cosmoception S.E.A. smelled a conspiracy. Who but Redneck Delicacies could be behind her collapse? She spent the next three days reclining in the remote-control bed, calling her coterie of corporate and government contacts, watching as televised pictures of her fall flooded her flesh with blue light.

God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time!

What enlightenment she achieved by the day of her discharge! One expert in private investigation and surveillance uncovered unsettling but not unexpected information: 90 percent of the patriarchal cake-maker’s progeny, although officially homeschooled in the socially malnourished bunkers of their reactionary fallout shelter, had somehow failed to pass or even take a single standardized test (the Poor White district’s education department was notoriously underfunded). Another expert, a specialist in genealogical trees, learned that both the double-agent activist and the owner of Redneck Delicacies hailed from a crowded Irish New York ghetto known for tactless generation of offspring, high rates of alcoholism, and animal-rights-infringing dog fights in darkened basements. Conspicuous? Yes. And then the boon: An anti-discrimination and anti-defamation lawyer offered to author a case pro bono on her behalf. When they met via video chat, he winked — was this a “come on”? — at the end when she thanked him, his talking-head countenance bereft of qualms. The high-profile case, he assured her, would launch his career rather nicely.

+++

Seven months later, the Supreme Court heard the case of Cosmoception, Inc. v. Redneck Delicacies, Inc. and determined that, though the mother had, in spite of her “spanking tendency,” taught their children many (untrue) things during her tenure as Domestic Slave, due rectification could only come through the following recipe: The entire brood — those over 18 not excluded, and there were 18 of them in all! — was to register for classes at Civil Liberation Appalachia Academy, a new tax-funded boarding school that provides Poor Whites hands-on initiation into state-of-the-art elbow-rubbings with bona-fide technocrats, as well as a desacralized progressive eschatology and cutting-edge math premised on recently published proof that prior “universals” such as 1, 2, and 3 do violence to the singularities of the unrepeatable individual entities they seek to quantify. (In sum, it’s William of Ockham revisited and on Ritalin, all textbooks revised to reflect the law of inviolable individual singularity, translated into elementary social studies lessons such as “You Are Not Your Family.”)

The Redneck Patriarch and his Domestic Slave would maintain every right to visit their children after school hours and even to take them to a Mindfulness Service of their choice. But the children — not excluding those under 18 — would gain rights unknown, the most important of which would come from their status as Citizens of the World. To this end, Civil Liberation Appalachia Academy distributes Global(ization) Green Cards on the first day of classes, and students can look ahead to full naturalization by graduation. Hip to the fact that education needs to extend beyond the abstract and academic, Civil Liberation Appalachian Academy, while not extricating that seemingly intractable faculty of free choice of the will, requires that all prospective Graduates complete several hands-on practicums, including but not limited to: (A) either unflinching observation of a multicultural tribal circumcision ritual or a choreographed yoga lesson entitled “Your Jesus Is My Buddha,” (B) unchaperoned hand-holding exercises — eye contact sustained for at least 97 percent of the necessary ten minutes — between junior-level class-persons of the same declared gender, and (C) 40 hours of mandatory participation in rallies devoted to reclaiming or increasing the rights of any race but one’s own (members of Historically Right-less People Groups are excused from this requirement).

The Court’s Majority Opinion ended with the following generous stipulation: For four years, with the possibility of renewal, Redneck Delicacies, Inc. would provide Civil Liberation Appalachia Academy’s cafeteria with baked goods. Given the school’s population of 3,000, this would mean that the Patriarch and his Domestic Slave could commit to no other customers for the duration of their compulsory contractual agreement. So the state would provide this Poor White family with a subsidy that promised pecuniary progress beyond the wildest dreams of their demographic, a stipulation the Cosmoception S.E.A. smiled down upon with newly whitened teeth. The Court selected her to oversee the couple from the bakery’s new home in an Appalachian panopticon, entrusting her with the difficult but tolerance-raising task of watching hicks all day long, which was another way of saying that under her all-seeing eye no poison could get “accidentally” added as the secret ingredient of these redneck delicacies. Given the importance of nurturing our young, the Chief Justice asked her to ensure “only the purest organic ingredients but imported from as far across the planet as possible, please, so that we can use this as an occasion to build a global collective consciousness, please.”

+++

The East Coast Clocker celebrated this armistice in the culture wars through a series of articles applauding cooperation between Cosmoception, Inc. and Redneck Delicacies, Inc. The angle? Deep down, despite our differences, we are more alike than we like to admit. The journalist who authored these pieces, an immediate recipient of death threats, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and he would have continued to compose these heartwarming dispatches indefinitely if not for a pair of unforeseen tragedies that untied the truce the Supreme Court had tried so hard to knot.

Forty days into Civil Liberation Academy’s fall semester, an independent accreditor uncovered a few false numbers. The school pool was in much poorer shape than its authorities admitted. While chlorine levels were within the normal range, estrogen and birth-control levels were unspeakably low — just 1.333 percent higher than those that occurred naturally in the municipal water supply. The Academy’s Principal acted fast, purchasing a chemical pump that guaranteed double these levels within a week. (Later, an investigative report initiated by a disc jockey who filled the 3 A.M. airwaves with unhinged assertions about aliens revealed that the device was manufactured by Cosmoception’s parent company, United Nations, Inc.) Due to poor installation, however, the pump flooded the school, claiming as its sole casualty a popular gym teacher who had offered unremunerated afterschool sex education in the pool, and the doors of Civil Liberation Academy were shut and sealed, its windows boarded to keep out vagrants and vandals, and to keep the flood inside.

That same evening, an unforgiving scorch won out against a volunteer firefighter brigade that arrived on the scene within minutes. Though they valiantly doused the building with H2O enriched with naturally occurring birth control and estrogen, the panopticon that housed Redneck Delicacies burned down. (Later, much later, scientists of good will discovered that, by bizarre coincidence, the fire emitted the exact amount of carbon pollution as had the Redneck sons’ reckless trucking through the Appalachians, indubitably contributing to sea rise.)

After an emotional arson trial, the hung jury found all suspects not guilty. Some swore that the Patriarch and his Domestic Slave started the fire because, their taste for money having been piqued by government subsidies, they would not rest until the spoils of property insurance poured into their bank account. Others insisted that Cosmoception’s S.E.A. did the deed under psychological duress, a hypothetical nearly corroborated when the Judge learned the S.E.A. had neglected her prescribed doses of Beatific Vision™ for three weeks leading up to the fire. The East Coast Clocker could only conclude that whoever the arsonist was, s/he suffered from cripplingly low self-esteem.

At approximately 3:33 P.M. the following afternoon, the disc jockey whom WTFY had heretofore kept corralled in his early-morning conspiracy show “Not Your Mother’s Paranoia” broke into the studio during a live interview with the Attorney General who was explaining, “What makes us exceptional, really exceptional, compared to any other nation in history…,” until the DJ lit that old black spiritual through airwaves everywhere:

You better get ready and bear this in mind
God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time!

 

Ed. Note: This is, of course, satire.

 

© 2019 New Oxford Review. All Rights Reserved.

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