If you look hard enough for a problem, you’ll find it. MSNBC published an op-ed by Cynthia Miller-Idriss that attempted to condemn home fitness as a potential breeding ground for white supremacists.
Citing a mere handful of mixed martial arts training groups in Canada and Europe that have been flagged for neo-Nazi rhetoric, Miler-Idriss is worried that the growing trend of home fitness in the United States will lead to a rise in white supremacy-minded MMA gyms within our own borders.
Yes, you read that right. But the first-class nonsense does not stop there. Miller-Idriss believes that an obsession with fitness specifically promotes values and life lessons that appeal to white supremacists:
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.
Pushing through pain, heroism, solidarity, and brotherhood are values and attributes you learn to appreciate if you participate in any sport. There is nothing unique or inherently special about physical fitness training providing these things, and certainly nothing that even hints at white supremacy. Maybe these people just want to stay fit and learn some valuable life lessons along the way.
So why the sudden urge to paint physical fitness and MMA as a place where white supremacists are trained, developed, and sent out to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world?
Maybe it’s because Miller-Idriss does this for a living. According to her byline, she is a professor in the “School of Public Affairs and the School of Education at American University, where she directs the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab.”
So she has an economic interest in finding right-wing boogiemen in new and interesting places.
MMA is not a hotbed for fostering white supremacists. For those that care, lots of black, Hispanic, and African fighters have achieved and sustained incredible amounts of success in MMA. Perhaps the only reason why people think white supremacists thrive there is because a great many people within the sport - like UFC figure and based podcaster Joe Rogan - who supported Donald Trump when he was president. But being a Trump supporter does not make you a white supremacist (although the left has an interest in claiming there's no difference between the two.)
So if you’re thinking about getting into physical fitness or even MMA at a more serious level, go enjoy yourself. Just don't let the Nazis get you.