Rep. Banks Grills Democrat Witness at VA Hearing Who Said Eating Red Meat Was ‘Far Right’

Meat products, rib steak, ribs and chuck sections are seen for sale on a stall at the Victor Hugo market in downtown Toulouse on December 27, 2014. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA (Photo credit should read REMY GABALDA/AFP via Getty Images)
REMY GABALDA/AFP via Getty Images

Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN) at a hearing on Wednesday grilled a witness on why she tweeted that eating red meat was “far right.”

The hearing was arranged by Democrats on the topic of “Domestic Violent Extremist Groups and the Recruitment of Veterans,” as part of Democrats’ push to address “extremism” in the military and among veterans in the wake of protests at the Capitol on January 6.

One of the Democrats’ witnesses, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, director of American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab, tweeted multiple times throughout 2020 and this year about how eating red meat was far right.

Miller-Idriss tweeted on August 13, 2020:

Using the term ‘Red meat’ like this is is part of a years-long set of messages about meat, masculinity, and what the ‘government’ or ‘liberals’ are trying to take away. … red meat consumption is championed by the far right as a celebration of manliness.’

She tweeted about “red meat” again on February 20, saying:

Lots of attention to red meat & the far right floating around this week, so jumping in here to recommend my discussion of this in the chapter on food & fashion in Hate in the Homeland.

There’s a lot going on but in short, red-meat eating ‘real’ Americans get contrasted w soy-eating, emasculated liberals who want to take away America’s hamburgers and impose vegetarianism as a strategy to reduce greenhouse gases. At the extreme, there’s the all-meat diet, which signals a hypermasculine, hunter-predator kind of manliness.

Banks, a Navy veteran, slammed the hearing as “wildly offensive” and grilled Miller-Idriss on why she tweeted that eating red meat was “right-wing.” Banks said:

Mr. Chairman, I hope every veteran in America is watching this hearing today and hearing from you and the majority party in control of this committee that our veterans are so stupid and susceptible to becoming domestic terrorists that you and the Democrats have to save them.

“It’s wildly offensive and dangerous. I wish we were talking about a lot of other issues like the rise in veteran suicide and other issues affecting our veterans but here we go again,” he said.

He noted that the Biden administration’s strategy for countering domestic terrorism did not include violent leftist extremist groups, including Antifa and Black Lives Matter, despite them causing $2 billion in damage across the nation in rioting last summer.

To Miller-Idriss, he said:

You have presented numerous concerning statements that may lead people to question your credibility. In an eight tweet Twitter thread on August 13, you stated ‘meat-eating is used to evoke both pro-American and anti-government sentiments all at once’ and ‘red meat consumption is championed by the far right as a celebration of manliness.’

Banks also asked her about her tweet that suggested that “far right” soup kitchens were putting pork in lentil soup to “exclude Muslims and Jews.”

“Does eating red meat make someone an extremist?” he asked her.

Miller-Idriss responded, “Of course not, eating red meat does not make someone an extremist any more than being a service member makes someone an extremist.” She also claimed she was a “red meat eater” herself.

She suggested that talking about red meat was “a manipulative tactic” that some extremist groups used.

Banks called her rhetoric “dangerous.” He said:

When supposed academics portray normal everyday behavior as problematic, it vilifies an entire community of peaceful people and this leads to policies like we currently see in the FBI who are now investigating parents as extremists for opposing critical race theory.

Another Democrat witness, Jeremy Butler, CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, accused Banks of “obfuscation” and “misinformation.”

Banks concluded: “Mr. Chairman, I think this hearing is offensive and the fact that you’re going to save our veterans from becoming political terrorists is offensive to every veteran in America.”


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