House of Representatives Censures Rep. Paul Gosar For "Violent" Attack on Titan Political Parody

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is killed in the video, accused Gosar of inciting violence against lawmakers

The United States House of Representatives voted last Wednesday to censure Paul Gosar, Republican representative for Arizona's 4th congressional district, after he posted a political parody of Attack on Titan's first opening sequence on his Twitter account on November 7. His political rivals appear in the video as Titans, including one who appears to be Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who is then killed in the opening sequence. Shortly after the video was posted, Democrats accused Gosar of inciting violence against a lawmaker and called for political consequences.

Although it carries no practical consequence, a censure is one of the strongest punishments the House can issue, short of outright expulsion, which requires a two-thirds majority vote to invoke. Gosar will also be removed from two Congressional committees: Natural Resources and the Oversight and Reform panel, on which Ocasio-Cortez also serves.

The censure is just the fourth to occur within the House in almost 40 years; Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called it an “abuse of power” by Democrats and warned that a “new standard will continue to be applied in the future.”

The House voted mainly along party lines to approve the censure with a tally of 223-207. Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were the only Republicans to vote in favor.

Gosar deleted the video from his professional and personal social media accounts last week amid the backlash. When the video was on Twitter, the social media site added a disclaimer that stated the content "violated the Twitter rules for hateful conduct," but left the video up because it "determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

During the House debate on his censure, Gosar stated: "There is no threat in the cartoon, other than the threat that immigration poses to our country." He said that he voluntarily "self-censored" by taking down the video himself "out of compassion for those who generally felt offense."

He further claimed that the video, which replaces the anime's title card with an alternate Japanese title that translates to "Attack of the Immigrants" (Imin no Kо̄geki), was intended as a commentary on an immigration policy included in the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure bill. The bill cleared the House and Democrats plan to push the bill through Congress by Thanksgiving. The video intersperses clips of refugees with footage from the anime, and portrays U.S. President Joe Biden of the Democratic Party as the Colossal Titan.

Gosar criticized the administration's "open border" policies and claimed the bill includes amnesty for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. However, the current version of the bill includes a 10 year work authorization for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and no current outline for the group to obtain citizenship. Immigrants living in the U.S. prior to 2011 will receive a five-year moratorium from immigration requirements via a process called "parole." If the moratorium is approved, immigrants can also ask for an extension for an additional five years.

Despite Gosar's denial of the video as a threat to fellow lawmakers, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi insisted that his actions be taken seriously.

“We cannot have members joking about murdering each other,” she said. “This is both an endangerment of our elected officials and an insult to the institution.”

Democrats invoked various examples of violent attacks on lawmakers on both political parties, including the Capitol riot on January 6, the 2017 shooting of Republican lawmakers, and the 2011 shooting of a former Arizona Representative. The chief of the U.S. Capitol Police told the Associated Press earlier this year that lawmakers are facing more threats than ever.

Ocasio-Cortez, who has experienced repeated death threats in the past, spends thousands of dollars on security. She said that Gosar has not apologized to her, but blamed McCarthy for not condemning Gosar's behavior.

“What is so hard about saying this is wrong?” she said. “This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida dismissed the censure as partisan nitpicking, saying, “I would just suggest we have better things to do on the floor of the House of Representatives than be the hall monitors for Twitter.”

Gaetz appears in the video with implied positive associations alongside former president Donald Trump and U.S. representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Gaetz is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the House Ethics Committee for sex trafficking, including an allegation involving a minor. Gaetz has denied the allegations.

Gosar has ties to far-right and white nationalist groups, such as the Groypers, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. He has also endorsed far-right conspiracy theories such as the claim that leftist protestors organized the Capitol riot on January 6.

Sources: AP News, CSPAN

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