Anti-immigrant activist Craig Nelsen resurfaces In Missouri, attempting to start boxing club for opioid addicts

Craig Nelsen, a longtime anti-immigrant activist with a history of promoting white nationalist ideals, has resurfaced in Lexington, Missouri, after years of inactivity.

Nelsen, the former leader of the anti-immigrant group, ProjectUSA, is attempting to start a “boxing club” for “high IQ white male heroin addicts.” In a letter sent to a Lexington resident in September of 2017, however, Nelsen claimed, “While the program will address the particular challenges faced by white men, we will accept males of any race with a heroin addiction who are seeking help.”  

Nelsen’s scheme for his “Robinson Jeffers Boxing Club,” named after the American poet, would see male “high-IQ” opioid addicts pay Nelsen $185 a week for a 13-week program consisting of a “strict daily regimen of exercise, a healthy diet, and rigorous academic study. Such study would include higher mathematics, literature, philosophy, biography, music, history, and poetry.” At the core of Nelsen’s proposed program is boxing which he says, “teaches a man that when life throws a punch, a man punches back.”

Nelsen’s fixation on high IQ is an age-old white nationalist trope. In fact, in 2002, his anti-immigrant group ProjectUSA received $10,000 in funding from the Pioneer Fund, a group started in 1937 to pursue "race betterment.” For decades, it funded studies of race and intelligence, as well as eugenics, the "science" of breeding superior human beings that was discredited by various Nazi atrocities. It has supported many of the leading race scientists of the last several decades as well as anti-immigrant groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Nelsen once sat on FAIR’s advisory board.

Nelsen started ProjectUSA in 1997 in New York. The group made a name for itself by sponsoring racist billboards. One on display in New York City depicted a white boy and the words, "Immigration is doubling U.S. population in my lifetime. (Please don't do this to us Congress)." The group claimed 3,000 members but went dormant in the mid-2000s.

A number of Lexington’s 4,000 residents are not happy at the prospect of Nelsen relocating to their town and setting up this club. One resident compared Nelsen’s arrival in Lexington to that of neo-Nazi Craig Cobb, who attempted to start a whites-only colony in the tiny town of Leith, North Dakota, in 2012. Though Nelsen is not a neo-Nazi, he is certainly sympathetic to the white nationalist cause. In a letter he sent to residents announcing his scheme, Nelsen wrote, “I believe the devastation among white males is the predictable result of decades of white male bashing in popular culture. By the time a white male graduates from college, he has been subjected to assaults on his dignity, his manhood, his history, and his culture.” Later in the letter, Nelsen claimed the club is open to all races, but he isn’t convincing anyone. Articles on the archived ProjectUSA website by Nelsen include subjects such as “The White Minority.”

Before Nelsen presented his plan at a Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, on January 16, not a lot was known about the club, aside from an interview he gave to local media and online images of letters he sent to community members. The meeting drew a large crowd, but in the week since, Nelsen as only resorted to getting in virtual boxing matches with residents and his grand plan for Lexington remains, at least for now, between rounds.

 

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