On Friday, Democrats filed a resolution to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) over a video he tweeted this week depicting an anime sequence of him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and attacking President Joe Biden.
The resolution condemns the video for its “hateful and false” depiction of asylum seekers at the southern border and points out that depictions of and allusions to violence can lead to actual violence, as demonstrated by the Capitol attack on January 6. The lawmakers also highlight that violence against women, especially women of color, can discourage women from seeking office or other authority positions. The resolution then calls to censure Gosar, a move that would remove him from his committee assignments in an attempt to rebuke the right’s violent tendencies.
The Democrats called the video a “clear cut case for censure” and said that Gosar using “his official congressional resources in the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials goes beyond the pale.” They also called out House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) for staying mum on the issue, saying that the minority leader’s silence is “tacit approval and just as dangerous.”
The resolution comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called for Gosar to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee over the video. “Threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States must not be tolerated,” she said.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) led the resolution effort, and was joined by nine Democrats, including Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts). The effort has been cosponsored by 19 representatives, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota).
Although the rest of the GOP has failed to condemn the video, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) has also called for Gosar to be censured, not only over the video but “for his continued indefensible activities.” Cheney, a longtime supporter of American militarism and war propaganda, is no saint herself — but in recent months, she has been breaking from the GOP as a less extremist Republican than the rest of the caucus.
Cheney’s statement is likely referring to Gosar’s alleged participation in planning the January 6 attempted coup. Over the past year, Gosar has been a leader in spreading former President Donald Trump’s election lies, even facing calls to resign from his own family.
As a result of the video, Gosar has also been facing calls to resign or be expelled from fellow members of Congress. “There must be accountability for the heinous attacks on my sister [Ocasio-Cortez]. We must not normalize or tolerate threats of violence against women — especially by members of Congress” wrote Pressley on Twitter on Friday. “Rep. Gosar must be censured, investigated and expelled.”
It’s unlikely that Republican leaders will take action on the issue, however. McCarthy’s silence has been especially revealing, as he is the one who holds the power to reprimand or punish members of his caucus. As Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, she has faced vitriol from Republican members of Congress before — and every time, the representatives have faced no consequences for their behavior.
Increasingly, the right appears to be embracing violence and harassment against their political opponents as a strategy of intimidation. Republican Rep. Fred Upton (Michigan) recently shared a voicemail in which a caller from outside of his state threatened his life and the lives of his family and staff over his “yes” vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The call, and several others like it, came after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) posted his office number on Twitter, Upton said.
New audio released this week shows — yet again — that Trump himself has also embraced this violence. In March, Trump said that it was “common sense” that his militant followers were chanting “hang Mike Pence” on January 6, because they had to supposedly “protect” the election from being certified.
The glorification of violence is a central pillar of fascism, and Gosar’s attempt to normalize the violence portrayed in the video is a disturbing display of the right wing’s radicalization. Even after facing considerable backlash for the video, Gosar dismissed the criticism. “Congressman Gosar cannot fly,” his office said in a statement making light of the video. Although the January 6 attempted coup ultimately failed in its mission, the right wing’s violence and anger has only increased since then, as commentators had predicted.