With Paul Gosar Censure Vote, Democrats Draw the Line at Murder Fantasies

On Wednesday, the House voted in favor of censuring Rep. Paul Gosar in response to the Arizona Republican tweeting an anime video depicting him slashing the neck of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Joe Biden with a pair of swords. Two hundred twenty-three members voted for the resolution, including GOP representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, and 207 members—all of whom were Republicans—voted against it. Rep. David Joyce, an Ohio Republican, was the only member to cast a “present” vote. The passage of the resolution, which will also result in Gosar being stripped of his two committee assignments, marks the first time Congress has censured one of its members since 2010.

In a moving speech on the House floor, Ocasio-Cortez asserted that Gosar’s depictions of her “are part of a larger trend of misogyny and racist misogyny.” “As leaders in this country, when we incite violence with depictions against our colleagues, that trickles down into violence in this country. And that is where we must draw the line,” she added. “What is so hard about saying that this is wrong? This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept.” 

Gosar, as he took the floor, attempted to pin the video on unnamed staffers in his office, claiming that he did “not espouse violence toward anyone,” and said that he only scrubbed the video from his social media accounts “for those who genuinely felt offense.” He then added that the anime clip was meant to help his followers understand the “real-life battle [against] this administration’s open border policies” and “Biden’s reckless, socialist, Marxist $4.9 trillion spending bill.” The Arizona Republican closed by suggesting that he is a patriotic martyr, as he likened himself to one of America’s Founding Fathers. “If I must join Alexander Hamilton, the first person attempted to be censured by this House, so be it. It is done,” he said. In response to Gosar’s self-aggrandizing, Rep. David Cicilline later remarked, “Mr. Gosar, you are no Alexander Hamilton. You must be held accountable.”

Throughout the House floor debate, Republicans defending Gosar attempted to pivot the conversation away from the video. Instead, they used their time to focus on “illegal aliens” and “out-of-control crime,” the “humiliating surrender in Afghanistan,” and the rising costs of Thanksgiving dinners. After House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy listed some of the aforementioned talking points, he criticized his Democratic colleagues for spending time on the censure of Gosar. “Will this Congress be remembered as a congress that addressed those serious challenges? Not a chance,” said McCarthy, who earlier this week did not directly condemn Gosar. “Instead, this Congress will go down in history as a broken Congress.” 

Ocasio-Cortez, who spoke shortly after McCarthy, did call out the Republican leader for his use of whataboutism in defense of Gosar. “It is a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States of America cannot bring themselves to say that issuing a depiction of murdering a member of Congress is wrong, and instead decides to venture off into a tangent about gas prices and inflation,” she said. (Speaking of wild tangents, Rep. Lauren Boebert tried defending Gosar by smearing Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, as being a member of the “Jihad Squad.”) 

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