An MSNBC columnist has been mocked for writing an op-ed warning that the far-right is using exercise as a means of recruiting new supporters.
Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a researcher in extremism and a professor in the School of Public Affairs and in the School of Education at American University in Washington D.C., wrote the article outlining her concerns.
Entitled ‘Pandemic fitness trends have gone extreme — literally,’ the article claimed that ‘white supremacists’ latest scheme to valorize violence and hypermasculinity has gone digital.’
On Monday, she was mocked online for the piece with Elon Musk and Joe Rogan slamming the idea that working out is tied to extremism.
‘MSNBC thinks you’re a nazi if you work out lmaooo,’ Musk tweeted. Later he claimed, ‘Parody & reality are becoming indistinguishable.’
‘Being healthy is ‘far right.’ Holy f***,’ podcaster Joe Rogan exclaimed on Twitter.
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.’
She admitted in the article first published last year that ‘fitness of course is a staple and a hobby for many people, for whom it is enjoyable and rewarding for brain health and overall well-being.’
But, she warned, in some instances working out is being corrupted by neo-Nazis.
‘The intersection of extremism and fitness leans into a shared obsession with the male body, training, masculinity, testosterone, strength and competition,’ she wrote.
‘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 pointed out the far right’s embrace of physical fitness is not new, noting how Hitler encouraged boxing and jujitsu.