There are many things Republicans in Congress simply won’t tolerate, like having to wear masks around their aging colleagues during a deadly pandemic and women having reproductive rights. But the caucus decided this week that they are A-OK with one of their members proudly sharing a video on social media that depicts himself as a cartoon violently murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
Here’s the mess: Rep.Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) posted a bizarre animé-style video on Twitter earlier this month that featured his avatar killing AOC and swinging swords at President Joe Biden. Since then, the House voted to censure the congressman and remove him from his two committees—with all but two anti-Trump Republicans voting in favor of the censure. Gosar has gone on to re-post the video, and former President Donald J. Trump publicly offered Gosar a “Complete and Total Endorsement!” on Thursday, with many Republicans in accordance.
In a 223-207 vote, the only two Republicans who voted for Gosar’s censure were Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Gosar defended himself on the House Floor, at one point boasting, “I do not espouse violence towards anyone. I never have...If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it.”
Gosar tweeted that the vote was a bit of “kabuki theater” (a form of Japanese classical theater known for heavily-stylized performances).
Most in Gosar’s party have rallied around him, and many members of the Freedom Caucus joined Gosar in the well of the House while he was formally censured. In a characteristically unhinged speech defending Gosar’s actions, Rep. Lauren Broebert (R-Co.) referred to Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as a member of the “Jihad Squad” and accused Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Cali.) of sleeping with a Chinese spy. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) echoed this after the vote closed saying, ““What about Eric Swalwell, sleeping with a Chinese spy?” (MTG was removed from committees in February due to baseless conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric.)
AOC, the target of all of this vitriolic nonsense, used her time on the floor to separate the matter from herself and Gosar and to make a point about human decency: “This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. This is about what are we willing to accept.”
Instead of scolding Gosar, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Cali.) defiantly said the sword-swinging cartoon congressman and Greene would get their House committee assignments back or get even better assignments if Republicans win the House majority in the midterms. AOC’s response? “Well, I would love Leader McCarthy to please let him communicate to the entire country that he is deeply supportive of people who are violent towards women.”
Message received loud and clear.