It's been a very long time since I've had a rant about Amairikuhn edgykayshun, but this story, shared by V.S., vaulted right into the finals folder. When I read it, I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or rant, and ended up doing all three. It seems that the latest lunacy to hit the Amairikuhn quackademy is the notion that being kind to animals - particularly dogs - is somehow a sign of white supremacy and patriarchy and... well, rather than me tell you, just read the article (if you can stomach it):
So here it is:
In her recent book The Lives and Deaths of Shelter Animals, Katja Guenther claims that dogs are being killed because of “capitalism, anthroparchy, white supremacy and patriarchy.” She argues that allowing dogs to sleep inside is a privilege reserved for the white and wealthy and that policies against keeping dogs chained up in backyards are intended to oppress people of color by imposing “middle-class norms of animal keeping in which companion animals are considered family and treated accordingly,” which ignore the fact that people of color “are themselves trapped in poverty, may have few options for legitimate income generation and possibly rely on their dogs for … status.
The first time I read this, I was angry, the second, I was sad, the third, I merely laughed. And what the heck is "anthroparchy"? And do I even care to know? (Probably not.) And most people I know that have dogs, whether inside or outside, have them because they like them. We'll get back to that. But wait, there's more:
She appears to be arguing that if a person of color can turn a profit or build a reputation through animal exploitation that excuses animal suffering—even in the case of sadistic animal abuse: “From a class perspective, wealthy people are believed to be too ‘civilized’ to engage in barbaric activities like dogfighting, and it’s no coincidence that the only affluent person who has been publicly shamed for dogfighting in the U.S., Michael Vick, is Black, newly wealthy after growing up in poverty.”
Dogfighting, however, is not considered barbaric because it violates the norms of wealthy people—who, after all, have historically had their own versions of animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment, such as fox hunting and pigeon shooting. Nor is dogfighting considered uncivilized because of the skin color of the organizers—many of whom are white—but because of what it does to dogs.
The details that got to me then and stay with me today involve the swimming pool that was used to kill some of the dogs. Jumper cables were clipped onto the ears of underperforming dogs, then, just like with a car, the cables were connected to the terminals of car batteries before lifting and tossing the shamed dogs into the water. Most of Vick’s dogs were small—40lbs or so—so tossing them in would’ve been fast and easy work for thick athlete arms. We don’t know how many suffered this premeditated murder, but the damage to the pool walls tells a story. It seems that while they were scrambling to escape, they scratched and clawed at the pool liner and bit at the dented aluminum sides …
That—and not his skin color—is why Vick was condemned publicly along with many others—many of them white people—who have been held accountable for harming animals.
While Guenther explains away mistreatment if the perpetrator happens to be a person of color, she has plenty of harsh words for those trying to save animals. Day in and day out, rescuers and volunteers show tremendous courage and compassion when they visit their local pounds. At many high kill shelters, they face hostile treatment from staff and endure heartbreak at seeing animals destined for lethal injection or gas chambers. And yet they go back, again and again.
Despite acknowledging these traumas, because most of the volunteers Guenther encountered were white, she accuses them of working to “reinscribe hierarchies of power and status within the shelter” against the non-white workers and thus “maintain existing social inequalities between humans even as they seek to help animals.” When a rescuer laments the condition of a dog “with sagging belly skin, elongated nipples, and enlarged genitalia” and expresses dismay that the former owners “confined their dog outdoors” and “used the pit bull primarily for income generation through breeding,” Guenther dismisses the criticism as “the animal practices of white rescuers.”
Now, all of this would be news to my two next door neighbors, one a black family, and the other, an elderly white lady, or my young Indian neighbors across the street with their two dogs and two cats (one cat a rescue), or the old curmudgeon across the street and his two little dogs. The black family occasionally has visits from the rest of their family, with little kids in tow, and when the kids see me outside walking Shiloh, they love to come over and pet her and ask questions about her. The elderly lady had to give up her own dog for adoption by the rest of her family, but always leaves a little treat for Shiloh when we bring her mail to her front door. Lesson: kindness, compassion, and love for animals is merely human; it's not black, not white, not old, not young, not male, not female. It's merely human. In fact, I would go so far as to say loving an animal or animals humanizes us in ways we do not really understand, and my little dog reacts to all of them in exactly the same way, an excited wagging tail, a little doggie "dance", and some doggie kisses. It's those who view animals simply as machines - or in Ms. Guenther's case, as mere articles in an ideological creed or as cogs in a silly multi-cultural machine of virtue signaling and "concern" - that give me pause, for such people seem empty and machine-like themselves. Perhaps such people are only a step away from the other type of people who view animals as mere chemical-biological automatons, and who feel free accordingly to torture, starve, and abuse them.
It's also a measure of just how inhuman, anti-human, and trivial, the Amairikuhn quackademy and culture has become if busybodies like Ms. Guenther not only have professorships but manage to get their drivel published and taken seriously. Recently, I read another article about a professor who was accusing minority supporters of President Trump of "multi-racial whiteness." (See https://www.npr.org/2021/01/24/960060957/understanding-multiracial-whiteness-and-trump-supporters). I don't particularly care what one thinks of Trump. My point here is I wonder what Ms. Guenther would make of my two next door neighbors and their friendliness toward my little dog? Would my elderly neighbor lady be accused of "trans-sexual patriarchy" and my other neighbors of "trans-racial whiteness" and "anthroparchy"?
My problem here is that my neighbors are simply showing human kindness, and that the end result of Ms. Guenther's meddling will be, as the article rightly sums up, a return to a kind of barbarism:
The most dangerous thing about Guenther’s book, however, is her view that human-animal relations are “a zero-sum political struggle involving identity markers like race.” In the early nineteenth century, cruelty to dogs was not recognized in law because they were considered property. Likewise, harming a homeless dog was not illegal because there was no property interest at stake. The animal did not matter. Guenther is once again suggesting a standard that excuses harm based on the interests of those causing it.
For all her professed concern about hierarchies of privilege, Guenther’s prescription for human-animal relations could not be more inequitable, uncharitable and unkind. Her premise that not all animals should have the same rights and that not all humans bear the same responsibilities to those animals threatens to popularize defeatist and counterproductive dogmas of the kind that kept shelters killing animals for decades until the current generation found common sense alternatives.
If such ideas gain traction, I fear the current moment will be remembered as a brief interlude between the ideological intransigence of two generations—both of which subordinate the rights of animals to the interests of those who harm them.
Perhaps Ms. Guenther needs to spend some time with animal rescue organizations, like Hope for Paws in Los Angeles, whose many rescue videos are on Youtube, whose rescue and veterinary crews are Hispanic, male, female, old, young, and you-name-it, and who respond to calls from all sorts of kind people - black, white, Latino, old, young, rich, poor, tattooed bikers, homeless people, professionals, rich, and poor - reporting some animal needing to be rescued. Perhaps she needs to learn to shed a tear of compassion for a suffering animal, or a tear of gratitude to those rescuing them, rather than wallowing in the fetid sewers of quackademia and her loony theories.
Yea, you can color me nauseated on this one. Shame on you Ms. Guenther.
See you on the flip side...