Congrats to Paul Gosar for taking the “how do you do, fellow kids?” meme and making it weirdly fascistic.
Time to Log Off is a weekly series documenting the many ways our political figures show their whole asses online.
Given the astronomical rise of overt fascism and white supremacy within the Republican Party of 2021, you might think it’d be hard single out one person from within the GOP’s rabidly authoritarian hoards who could claim the title of most extreme member. You might think that, but you’d be wrong. It’s actually quite easy: It’s Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, a former dentist whose dalliances with racism include “speaking at a white nationalist conference” and “having his immediate family straight up call him a ‘white supremacist.’” Oh, and he won his most recent election by nearly 70%.
The thing about Gosar is that he’s a retirement-aged racist in his 60s, which makes his latest attempt to seem like a “hip” and “cool” bigot all the more painfully awkward and try-hard.
“Any anime fans out there?” Gosar asked this past week, in a since-deleted tweet featuring an amateurishly edited series of clips from the popular (and deeply fascistic) cartoon series Attack on Titan, in which the faces of the series’s titular species of grinning cannibal giants have been replaced with those of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Biden. Gosar himself appears superimposed over one of the show’s heroes, violently hacking away at his Democratic colleagues. Also, there are clips of scaaaaaaaary immigrants, and majestic snapshots of Donald Trump and other uncreative authoritarian imagery. Feel free to watch it if you want, but be warned: It’s a lot.
Yeah, it’s real fucking weird. And real dumb. And, despite the very real, very worrisome links between a sitting U.S. congressman and the ultra-right wing meme culture from whose fecal-crusted bowels this video sprung, this whole thing feels ... I’dunno ... pretty pathetic, doesn’t it?
Of course, it’s extremely bad to even joke about murdering Democratic lawmakers when we’re less than a year out from Gosar’s breed of Republicans trying to do exactly that, and yes, he very much deserves to be censured by Congress (there’s already a resolution circulating) to say nothing of probably needing to stripped of his committee assignments, or kicked out, or arrested and sent to jail for incitement. But at the same time, don’t you think this whole thing just smacks of “how do you do fellow kids?” desperation? If the video itself wasn’t embarrassing enough, he followed it up by retweeting the initial message, this time from his personal account, exclaiming “the creativity of my team is off the hook.”
Sure thing grandpa.
I’m not trying to minimize the danger of what Gosar has done, and will presumably continue doing, if he’s not held accountable. The meme-fueled nexus of “we’re just joking, it’s all for lulz” shock, and actual incendiary violence, is one of the main tools America’s resurgent far-right uses to elude responsibility for their bigoted rhetoric. The thing is, Gosar is just bad at it. He’s not a shitposter himself, he just wants actual shitposters to think he is. He’s a tourist — a racist, dangerous one, to be clear — trying to hop on a bandwagon. And my god, if you’re gonna be a bigoted demagogue, at least have some dignity.
Frankly, if ever there were someone who needs to log off, it’s Paul. Not just because the longer he’s online, the more poisonous violence he can inspire, but also because he’s just embarrassing himself at this point. Log off, dude. Have some Sleepytime tea and go to bed or something. Please, for our sake and yours.