PHOENIX, Arizona — Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) got it right recently when he described his House colleague, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), as “Just an awful human being.”
Gallego was responding to the news that Gosar had posted an altered anime video of himself on Twitter, which he’s since removed, that depicted him decapitating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) with a sword, before going on to attack President Joe Biden with two swords, the frame freezing just before the animated version of Gosar brings the twin blades down on the President’s head.
A very sick and repugnant joke.
And while his “joke” may not mean that Gosar actually wants to kill Ocasio-Cortez, it’s the latest illustration of just how far Gosar and a growing contingent of the Republican Party are willing to go when it comes to trivializing and often outright encouraging violence against anyone who disagrees with them.
Gosar has described the throngs who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to block the certification of Biden’s 2020 election as “peaceful patriots.” Really? Those peaceful patriots left at least 138 Capitol and D.C. police officers injured, and one officer who was pepper-sprayed died the next day after suffering two strokes. Four rioters also died, one of them shot as she tried climbing through the shattered window of a barricaded door, and four officers later died by suicide.
But in case you’re wondering, Gosar’s mock-murder of Ocasio-Cortez isn’t really about politics, in the same way that rape isn’t really about sex. This isn’t Gosar’s way of saying he disagrees ideologically with the Congresswoman’s progressive stances on issues like climate change, universal pre-K, or paid family medical leave.
Gosar’s assault on Ocasio-Cortez is about race and gender—and especially race.
Ocasio-Cortez is everything Gosar and his ilk detest and fear: an intelligent Brown woman with power.
Gosar wouldn’t dare circulate an anime video of him pretending to behead Rep. Liz Cheney, and not because she’s a fellow Republican —though she’s recently turned her back on many of her Republican colleagues— but because she’s a white woman, and even the most racist members of today’s Trumpian GOP wouldn’t stand for it.
“After all, Paul,” you can imagine some Republicans saying, “you wouldn’t want to encourage anyone to do anything crazy now, would you? You know, like actually chop Liz’s head off?!”
The video also goes out of its way to tie Ocasio-Cortez, who was born in the Bronx, to the issue of illegal immigration by repeatedly showing grainy clips of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, as Border Patrol agents, including some galloping on horseback, valiantly defend America.
And just so you know how dangerous those immigrants are, the frames are splattered with anime blood, though I’m not sure if the implication is that the immigrants have sparked a murderous bloodbath or if “Gosar the Titan Slayer” is slashing them as they come across.
Either way, the message is clear: Menacing Brown immigrants are invading the country. And the evil villain, Ocasio-Cortez, is leading the charge. But never fear, hard-right, neo-fascist white America—Gosar has come to the rescue!
For her part, soon after landing in Scotland for the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted about her “creepy” colleague “who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups” that shared his fantasy of killing her.
So while I was en route to Glasgow, a creepy member I work with who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups shared a fantasy video of him killing me
And he’ll face no consequences bc @GOPLeader cheers him on with excuses.
Fun Monday! Well, back to work bc institutions don’t protect woc https://t.co/XRnMAKsnNO
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 9, 2021
“This dude is just a collection of wet toothpicks anyway,” she added. “White supremacy is for extremely fragile people (and) sad men like him, whose self concept relies on the myth that he was born superior, because deep down he knows he couldn’t open a pickle jar or read a whole book by himself.”
Ocasio-Cortez predicted Gosar, given the Republican Party’s recent track record, is unlikely to face any serious consequences from GOP leaders for what’s become the Arizona congressman’s pattern of reprehensible behavior.
“I believe that Gosar and, frankly, the Republican caucus is doing in giving him a slap —him and others, because this is part of a pattern of escalating behavior from the party— that they are essentially trying to legitimize and give a green light to the threatening of school board members down-ballot, and intimidation at the polls,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters on Monday night, as recorded by Latino Rebels’ Washington correspondent, Pablo Manríquez. “They are essentially using a national platform to legitimize threats and violence … at local levels to intimidate many people. … I believe this is part of a concerted strategy.”
“I have not needed a (security) detail on this level in my entire time in Congress until recently,” she added. “These things are escalating, and the Republican Party knows it, and they are using the threat of violence against me for their own personal political game—not just me, but many vulnerable communities.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called for a Congressional ethics inquiry along with a criminal investigation into Gosar’s depiction of violence against Ocasio-Cortez and Biden. Several Democrats, led by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), have called for Gosar to be censured and stripped of his committee assignments.
“In any workplace in America, if a coworker made an anime video killing another coworker, that person would be fired,” tweeted Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).
This is sick behavior from Rep. Paul Gosar. He tweeted out the video showing him killing Rep. Ocasio-Cortez from both his official account and personal account. In any workplace in America, if a coworker made an anime video killing another coworker, that person would be fired. pic.twitter.com/0ygBfE6bEL
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 9, 2021
Even the Congressman’s sister, Jennifer Gosar, called him a “sociopath” and demanded he be held accountable.
But Gosar won’t be held accountable by the Republican Party. He won’t be castigated by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). And he won’t be voted out by a majority of voters in his shamefully gerrymandered Arizona district, which covers much of the rural western portion of the state.
Why? Because Gosar is a white supremacist and a male member of a political party that’s now dominated by white supremacists, a party whose core agenda has almost nothing to do with so-called traditional Republican values anymore. The party’s singular goal today is the preservation, at all costs, of the country’s historically white, male-dominated power base.
And Gosar has become a sociopathic foot-soldier for the GOP cause.
James E. Garcia is a journalist, playwright and communications consultant based in Phoenix, AZ, the editor and publisher of the weekly newsletter Vanguardia America, and author of the upcoming book “Vanguardia: The American Latino Renaissance & the Future of Our Nation.” Twitter: @JG_Vanguardia