Earlier this month, Republican Rep. Paul Gosar was once again the subject of intense backlash after he tweeted a photoshopped anime video depicting him killing his colleague, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Immediately after, Ocasio-Cortez responded in a tweet, saying “a creepy member I work with who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups shared a fantasy video of him killing me.”
“Fun Monday!” she wrote. “Well, back to work bc institutions don’t protect woc.”
The next day, Gosar released a statement, not apologizing for sharing a video depicting him killing his colleague but rather saying there had been a “gross mischaracterization of a short anime video produced by his office” and that the video is “a symbolic portrayal of a fight over immigration policy.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also did not directly condemn the behavior, per CNN, but said, “I called him when I heard about the video, and he made a statement that he doesn’t support violence, and he took the video down.”
Gosar’s tweet was ultimately deleted, and today, the House of Representatives voted to censure Gosar and remove him from his committee assignments, making him the first House member in more than a decade to be censured, according to CNBC. Censure is the second harshest formal punishment in the House and, per the network, it required Gosar “to stand on the House floor while Pelosi read the rebuke aloud.”
During the House debate on the censure, Ocasio-Cortez delivered her own blistering remarks about the incident, saying that not only did Gosar’s video and his response convey a “certain contempt for the meaning and importance of our work here” but that the incitement of violence “trickles down into violence in this country.”
“I grew up as a little girl with awe about our nation’s Capitol, the reverence and the importance and the gravity of our work here,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “So the question I pose to this body in response is: Will we live up to the promises that we make our children? That this is a place where we will defend one another regardless of belief? That our core human dignity matters?”
Watch her entire speech here, or read it in full below:
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I’ve been serving in this body just under three years. In that three years, an enormous amount has happened. But in response to the Republican leader’s remarks when he says that this action is unprecedented, what I believe is unprecedented is for a member of House leadership of either party to be unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body. It is sad. 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.
What is so hard? 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. Not just the Republican leader, but I have seen other members of this party advance the argument, including Representative Gosar himself, the illusion that this was just a joke. That what we say and what we do does not matter so long as we claim a lack of meaning. Now this nihilism runs deep, and it conveys and betrays a certain contempt for the meaning and importance of our work here. That what we do, so long as we claim that it is a joke, doesn’t matter. That we say here doesn’t matter, that our actions every day as elected leaders in the United States of America doesn’t matter. That this chamber and what happens in it doesn’t matter. And I’m here to rise to say that it does. Our work here matters. Our example matters. There is meaning in our service.
And 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 independent of party, identity, or belief. It is about a core recognition of human dignity and value and worth. So when we talk about, as mentioned in the resolution, that these depictions are part of a larger trend of misogyny and racial misogyny, racist misogyny, this House results in dampening the participation.
So this vote is not as complex as perhaps the Republican leader would like to make folks believe. It’s pretty cut and dry. Do you find, does anyone in this chamber find this behavior acceptable? Would you allow depictions of violence against women, against colleagues, would you allow that in your home? Do you think this should happen on a school board? In a city council? In a church? And if it’s not acceptable there, why should it be accepted here?
Lastly, when the Republican leader rose to talk about how there are all of these double standards and lists a litany of all these different things, not once did he list an example of a member of Congress threatening the life of another. This is not about a double standard and what is unprecedented and what is tragic is the dissent of transgression in this body. I grew up as a little girl with awe about our nation’s Capitol, the reverence and the importance and the gravity of our work here. So the question I pose to this body in response is: Will we live up to the promises that we make our children? That this is a place where we will defend one another regardless of belief? That our core human dignity matters? If you believe that this behavior is acceptable, go ahead, vote no. But if you believe that this behavior should not be accepted, then vote yes. It’s really that simple.
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