Activist Teaches Feminist Animal Rights Course At George Mason University

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A self-described activist is teaching an eye-opening “Animal Rights as Ecofeminism” course at George Mason, the largest public university in Virginia.

Professor Paul C. Gorski, who believes meat producers perpetuate racism and that a powerful dairy lobby is responsible for the idea that milk promotes health, will be teaching a course about “mass food production, mass clothing production, pharmaceutical and medical testing.”

According to the course syllabus, students are required to write about how animal rights relates to “sexism, racism, heterosexism, imperialism, and poverty.” He asks students to consider questions such as:

(1) How is pig farming abusive to low-wage workers and the environment? Who feels the greatest impact of the environmental and worker exploitation (across race, class, etc.?)
(2) Who are the beneficiaries of this exploitation and abuse? How do they justify it? How do they create the conditions that allow it to happen?
(3) Beyond abuses during production, what are other ways in which the products of industrialized pig farming are harmful? What impact does it have on community health? Whose health is at highest risk and why?

In the course, students are commanded not try to justify the ways they “exploit” animals.

“Animal Rights as Ecofeminism” students must also create their own animal rights campaign which includes an “action” portion — for example, Gorski suggests staging a protest.

In a paper outlining his views on animal rights, “Critical Ties: The Animal Rights Awakening of a Social Justice Educator”, Gorski claims corporate interests oppress animals and humans. In the piece, Gorski recalls his thoughts after hearing about a bear trainer who was mauled by her bears. Gorski says he felt “satisfied by the mauling, and devastated to hear that the bear was shot and killed simply for responding like any abused creature might rightly respond.”

This, according to Gorski, is the “human element” of his thoughts on animals.

In addition to animal rights activism, Gorski also concerns himself with social justice issues; particularly, anti-racism. Gorski is on the advisory board for the White Privilege Conference. In his writing, Gorski attacks his own grandmother by claiming that despite being poor, she is still privileged because she is white.

According to the professor, white people need to be dedicated to pursuing racial justice. Gorski, however, does not believe his fellow white social justice activists are properly committed to fighting racism. Upset over his “white Facebook friends” describing the Ferguson rioters as looters, Gorski writes:

Violence begets violence. Read history. Revolutionary War. Violence begets violence. Civil War. Violence begets violence. The Revolutionary War was a situation in which repressed people used violence to free themselves from repression. It was a violent protest. Violence begets violence. Almost always people in the US who are analyzing these situations through lenses of whiteness omit every bit of history and react only to people who feel so silenced and repressed that they finally, finally are responding with some measure of violence that just barely captures the tip of the iceberg of the violence they and their families have experienced for generations.

Gorski believes that his white allies, by decrying the violence in Ferguson, are missing the broader point about justified violence as a response to institutional racism.

In order to attack his white colleagues for supposed hypocrisy, the professor created the hashtag campaign “#WhiteLiberalismIs.” Gorski states “White liberalism is thinking we need to tweak a broken system rather than recognizing that the system is working with racist precision;” “White liberalism is the expectation that white people should be able to enjoy the path toward racial justice;” “White liberalism is insisting that we can ‘dialogue’ our way to racial justice;” and “White liberalism is having the gall to tell communities of color the best way to advance their liberation.”

According to Gorski, no matter what other white people may do to show their dedication to anti-racism, “white liberalism is the anti-solidarity” — unless, of course, the white liberal is Professor Gorski.

In addition to “Animal Rights as Ecofeminism,” Professor Gorski is teaching “Social Justice Consciousness” and “School Through Students’ Eyes.” Given George Mason University’s commitment to a respectful and inclusive educational environment, the professor’s views raise questions about his ability to treat his white students fairly and teach objectively.