BJ Penn pushes antisemitic ‘globalism’ conspiracy theory

B.J. Penn is the latest MMA fighter to promote an unfounded antisemitic conspiracy theory. The former two-division UFC champion turned gubernatorial candidate in Hawaii…

By: Karim Zidan | 1 year ago
BJ Penn pushes antisemitic ‘globalism’ conspiracy theory
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

B.J. Penn is the latest MMA fighter to promote an unfounded antisemitic conspiracy theory.

The former two-division UFC champion turned gubernatorial candidate in Hawaii took to Instagram to share a series of images and infographics explaining the supposed dangers of globalism. His post included an image of a group of men surrounding a table shaped like the world, which harkens back to the anti-Jewish narratives pushed by Nazi Germany and countless others.

The term globalist has recently been used by far-right figures, right wing politicians, and conservative pundits to promote the unfounded and antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people are perpetrators of a global economy and international political system that enhances their control of banks, governments, and media.

The term has come to be viewed as an antisemitic dog whistle, and continues to be used by the likes of former president Donald Trump, members of his administration like white supremacist Steve Bannon, conservative pundits such as Tucker Carlson, and conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones. The slur, as well as the graphics and cartoons associated with it, have also been promoted by conspiracy-mongering MMA fighters such as Gina Carano and Tito Ortiz.

Last year, Ortiz posted a cropped version of the London-based “Freedom for Humanity” mural, which attracted criticism as antisemitic due to the stereotypical depictions of Jewish people. The mural depicts a group of men—some of whom were depicted to be Jewish—seated around a table under an Eye of Providence (the same symbol depicted on the United States one-dollar bill), playing a board game that rests on the backs of bent over naked figures. Ortiz posted the image along with the caption, “If the people stand…the game is over.”

The “Freedom for Humanity” mural was deemed antisemitic due to the obvious stereotypes attributed to Jewish people, including the large, hooked noses, references to finances, and Masonic symbols such as the Eye of Providence, which became a popular symbol for the Illuminati, a term that conspiracy theorists have used in modern times to denote a secret society that controls and manipulates world events. The image of a group of old men seated around a table encompassing the world has also become synonymous with globalism.

Apart from posting antisemitic slurs, Penn has focused his efforts on promoting anti-vaccine narratives across his social media accounts and campaigning on the promise to remove all COVID-19 mandates currently imposed in Hawaii.

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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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