The House of Representatives narrowly voted 223-207 to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) and remove him from his committee posts for tweeting an animated video showing his head on the body of an anime character stabbing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) and lunging with a knife at President Joe Biden. Twitter did not take the video down, merely labeling it “hateful content” and stating that it was in the public’s interest for it to remain.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-23-CA) denounced the action before the vote. “It’s an old definition of abuse of power: rules for thee, but not for me. That’s exactly what’s happening here today,” he said. “House Democrats are preparing once again to break another precedent of the United States House of Representatives.”
The video is an edited version of the opening credits of the Japanese manga series Attack on Titan. It includes clips of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and photos of other politicians including former President Donald Trump. The scenes being criticized flash so quickly they’re not noticeable to the average person.
Alexandria-Cortez responded by accusing Gosar of being a white supremacist and insulted him, “This dude is a just a collection of wet toothpicks anyway … [His] 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.”
Gosar, who was removed from the House Oversight and Reform committee and the Natural Resources Committee, responded with a brief speech on the House floor immediately afterward on Wednesday. He said it was a “mischaracterization” that the cartoon was “dangerous or threatening.” “I do not espouse violence toward anyone,” Gosar said.
He added he voluntarily took the cartoon down, “not because it was a threat, but because some thought it was.”
He explained how the cartoon was responding to the current policy fight over illegal immigration.
“There is no threat in the cartoon, other than the threat illegal immigration poses to our country,” he said.
Gosar went on, “If this cartoon ‘incites violence’ and needs to be banned and me ‘punished’ for it, then the Cartoon Network, Disney and all of Hollywood must be shut down and ‘punished’ for all the cartoon and film violence they portray.”
He declared, “No matter how much the left tries to silence me today, I will continue to speak out.”
Gosar ended his speech without apologizing, “If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it. It is done.”
The House of Representatives unsuccessfully tried to censure Hamilton in 1793 when he was Treasury Secretary over the way he was handling the government’s debt.
Many high-profile Democrats have called for violence toward Republicans. A video went viral showing them calling for unrest, harassment and uprisings. The officials include Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-43), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12). None of them were censored or removed from their committees.
Pelosi said during a National Governors Association meeting that her approach to politics is “when you’re in the arena, you have to be ready to take a punch & throw a punch.” During Pelosi’s speech Tuesday announcing the vote to censure Gosar, she stated, “When a member uses his or her national platform to encourage violence, tragically, people listen to those words and they may act upon them. Words spoken by elected officials weigh a ton. People hear them very differently.”
The most important video of 2020
— ELIJAH (@ElijahSchaffer) August 31, 2020
Gosar retweeted pundit Carmine Sabia after the censure saying, “Members of The Squad have called for things that would end the nation of Israel but yes, let’s censure @RepGosar for a cartoon.”
Democrats honed in on Gosar because he spoke up about election fraud after the 2020 presidential election. Arizona was considered ground zero for claims of election fraud in that race. Democrats also removed Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA-14) from her committee assignments back in February, similarly accusing her of encouraging violence.
Two Republicans voted in favor of the Gosar censure, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). The Wyoming Republican Party voted last weekend to no longer recognize Cheney as a member due to her repeated criticism of former President Donald Trump. Kinzinger, who was threatened with sanctions for joining the Democrats on a House committee investigating the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, is not seeking reelection. About two dozen lawmakers have been censured by the House since 1832, including former Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13) in 2010 over ethics violations.
– – –