In speeches defending their colleague’s anime-themed violence, GOP lawmakers exposed just how deep the rot in their party goes.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to issue a rare rebuke to one of its own members, censuring Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar and stripping him of his committee assignments for sharing a doctored video of the anime series Attack on Titan in which he is depicted attacking several high profile Democrats — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and President Biden — with a sword.
Gosar’s censure — the first in more than a decade — is notable for not only for the morbid absurdity of being an official, well-earned condemnation of a violent piece of anime-inspired propaganda, but also for eliding the true rot at the heart of Gosar’s turn in politics. He’s a guy who pals around with unambiguous white nationalists and speaks at their overtly white nationalist conventions. It’s not that he shouldn’t have been censured for gleefully posting a clip of himself killing his colleagues — he very much should have! But you have to wonder what’s wrong with an institution where that’s what it takes to get a painfully mild punishment, and not his long history of overt racism. Clearly, the House’s priorities could use some fine tuning.
But despite the seemingly misappropriated ire over anime, instead of the more holistic problem of having an unapologetic racist in a position of power, Wednesday’s censure vote was something of a refreshing moment in the usually murky world of congressional politics. Here we have been given one of the most clarifying examples to date of just how much the GOP has come to celebrate, rather than obfuscate, the sort of bigotry Gosar embodies. For example, consider that when fellow Republican extremist Marjorie Taylor Green was stripped of her committee assignments in February, essentially for being a total psycho online, 11 of her party-mates in the GOP crossed the aisle to vote against her. This time, however, just two Republicans — Wyoming’s Liz Cheney and Illinois’s Adam Kinzinger — voted with the entire Democratic caucus to censure Gosar, who, again, is a man who literally shared a fantasy about murdering his colleagues.
Consider as well the litany of chest-thumping, neener-neener speeches in support of Gosar from any number of the GOP’s rising fascist stars. Diarrhea purveyor Lauren Boebert of Colorado spent her time defending Gosar with a rambling diatribe full of naked Islamophobia and conspiracy-mongering:
Credibly accused pedophile Matt Gaetz also defended Gosar, by comparing a video in which the congressman is depicted literally swinging a sword into AOC’s neck as being similar to a Loony Tunes short:
Speaking with reporters outside Congress, Greene demanded that GOP members who voted to condemn Gosar be “kicked out of the conference,” while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pledged to return both Gosar and Greene to their committees should Republicans re-gain the majority after the 2022 midterm elections. All told, not one single Republican offered anything approaching a serious condemnation of Gosar’s actions.
Disquieting as it is to see the heavyweights of the GOP going to bat for a racist so chastised by his censure that he re-posted the same video just minutes later, it’s refreshing, too. Gone is the hope that a laughably thin veneer of respectability will distract from their fundamentally violent, bigoted core. Now that aspect of conservatism is on full display, being hoisted proudly aloft by a class of lawmakers whose sole interest is complaining on TV about how oppressed they are.
Scary as that may be, we should be thankful for it as well. It’s a lot easier to make the case that the GOP is a party of irredeemable maniacs when they themselves, stop trying to pretend otherwise.