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In France, “le jogging” is a right-wing activity

MICHEL GANGNE/AFP Nicolas Sarkozy, perhaps the most pro-American president in French history, has been stirring up a furor in the French and British media this summer with his most right-wing activity of all: jogging. And to add insult to injury, he often runs in his favorite NYPD T-shirt. Sarkozy seems to be confirming a French belief ...

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MICHEL GANGNE/AFP

Nicolas Sarkozy, perhaps the most pro-American president in French history, has been stirring up a furor in the French and British media this summer with his most right-wing activity of all: jogging. And to add insult to injury, he often runs in his favorite NYPD T-shirt.

Sarkozy seems to be confirming a French belief that jogging is an activity for self-absorbed individualists such as Americans, the Times of London reports. The editor of V02, a sports magazine, told the left-wing French newspaper Libération, “Jogging is of course about performance and individualism, values that are traditionally ascribed to the right.” The Times writes that sports sociologist Patrick Mignon thinks that “French intellectuals have always held sports in contempt, while totalitarian regimes cultivated physical fitness.” Meanwhile, Boris Johnson, a member of British Parliament who jogs, says:

Of course [jogging] is right-wing. … The very act of forcing yourself to go for a run, every morning, is a highly conservative business. There is the mental effort needed to overcome your laziness.

A leading French philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut, says Sarkozy should stop his un-French and “undignified” athletic activity, which involves the indecency of exposing one’s knees. Finkielkraut thinks strolling is more cerebral and says, “Western civilization, in its best sense, was born with the promenade.”

(Well, if sports are indeed right-wing, their health benefits certainly aren’t showing up in the most conservative areas of the United States.)

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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