These days, it’s probably a lot easier — not to mention faster — to just list the things that aren’t symbols of white supremacist ideology. Because it seems like everything is a symbol of white supremacist ideology. The “OK” hand gesture and the circle game are symbols of white supremacist ideology. Milk is a symbol of white supremacist ideology.
And thanks to MSNBC, we now know that physical fitness, specifically at home, is a symbol of white supremacist ideology:
The far right’s obsession with fitness is going digital https://t.co/FAhj5nPMcY
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 23, 2022
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.
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. The neo-Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin advised his followers that “fat people” should be required to commit to losing weight if they are to stay involved with groups or in-person gatherings, noting that “continued obesity should not be tolerated.”
Plus, you know who else believed in physical fitness? That’s right. You guessed it: HITLER. Yes, that Hitler:
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.
Admit it. All you fitness buffs really just want to annex the Sudetenland.
— Phineas Fahrquar (@irishspy) March 23, 2022
Nordic Track is apparently just code for Aryan Track. Who knew?
— Aldous Huxley's Ghost™ (@AF632) March 23, 2022
You learn something new every day! Food for thought next time you’re thinking about working some exercise into your personal health regimen.
And for the next time you see someone else getting a little too into fitness. You could be looking at a genuine white supremacist.