It should come as no big surprise that an MSNBC columnist has written an op-ed warning that the far-right uses exercise as a way to recruit supporters.
Cynthia Miller-Idriss, is a “researcher in extremism” and professor at the School of Public Affairs and School of Education at American University in Washington D.C.
Her article, titled: ‘Pandemic fitness trends have gone extreme — literally,’ claimed that ‘white supremacists’ latest scheme to valorize violence and hypermasculinity has gone digital.’
She was mocked mercilessly online for the piece, which one would think is more likely to be linked with the onion, though MSNBC isn’t a stretch. Elon Musk and Joe Rogan chimed in:
Miller-Idriss wrote: ‘It appears the far right has taken advantage of pandemic at-home fitness trends to expand its decade-plus radicalization of physical mixed martial arts (MMA) and combat sports spaces.’
In her op-ed, which was published last year, she warned that in some cases working out is being tarnished by neo-Nazis: ‘The intersection of extremism and fitness leans into a shared obsession with the male body, training, masculinity, testosterone, strength and competition.’
‘Physical fitness training, especially in combat sports, appeals to the far right for many reasons: fighters are trained to accept significant physical pain, to be ‘warriors,’ and to embrace messaging around solidarity, heroism, and brotherhood. It’s championed as a tool to help fight the ‘coming race war’ and the street battles that will precede it. Recruits are encouraged to link individual moral virtues such as willpower, decisiveness and courage, with desired collective traits such as virility and manliness. This also works in reverse, with white supremacists encouraging potential recruits or activists to stay in good physical shape as a way of managing self-presentation to the public.’
Miller-Idriss couldn’t resist pointing out how Hitler encouraged boxing and jujitsu.
It appears to be a theme with Miller-Idriss; in February, she wrote about homeschooling and its supposed ties to extremism.
‘The story draws attention to a strategy that has long been key to white supremacist groups: indoctrinating their children through curriculum designed to teach white supremacy, while keeping them out of what they see as the brainwashing multiculturalism of public schools,’ she wrote.