After its deep investigative dive, it is a surprise to no one that MSNBC has concluded that working out at home is “racist” and “fascist.” Today’s absurdity comes from Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a sociologist and professor in the School of Public Affairs and in the School of Education at American University. She also runs that university’s Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab.
That’s certainly a new one.
The professor writes, “Earlier this month, researchers reported that a network of online ‘fascist fitness‘ chat groups on the encrypted platform Telegram are recruiting and radicalizing young men with neo-Nazi and white supremacist extremist ideologies. Initially lured with health tips and strategies for positive physical changes, new recruits are later invited to closed chat groups where far-right content is shared.
Physical fitness has always been central to the far right. In ‘Mein Kampf,’ Hitler fixated on boxing and jujitsu, believing they could help him create an army of millions whose aggressive spirit and impeccably trained bodies, combined with ‘fanatical love of the fatherland,’ would do more for the German nation than any ‘mediocre’ tactical weapons training.
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. Physical fitness channels dopamine, adrenalin and serotonin in ways that literally feel good. Intertwining those feelings with hateful and dehumanizing ideas, while promoting the concept that physical warriors are needed to create the strength and dominance to defend one’s people from a perceived enemy, makes for a dangerous and powerful cocktail of radicalization.”
Practicing martial arts has been a fitness practice for centuries. For example, Theodore Roosevelt was a boxing student-athlete and a member of Harvard’s boxing club in his youth. “I did a good deal of boxing and wrestling in Harvard,” Roosevelt recalled in his autobiography. Abraham Lincoln was a wrestler who only lost one match in 300 tries before becoming the Great Emancipator.
Americans have long used videos and fitness groups to stay in shape. Tae Bo, a body fitness system incorporating martial arts and boxing became very popular during the 1990s. The practice was created by African American taekwondo practitioner Billy Blanks and has been used to promote fitness ever since. It has recently made a resurgence by using YouTube.
What will be the next aspect of life that MSNBC tries to ridiculously politicize as it works to divide and urge people to dislike their neighbors?