Censure not enough for Gosar video
When a video surfaced on social media earlier this month of NFL cornerback Damon Arnette threatening another man with what appeared to be a firearm, his team wasted little time in responding. The Las Vegas Raiders summarily released the up-and-coming defender — no easy decision, seeing as he was a first-round draft pick for the team in 2020.
The Republican Party is no Las Vegas Raiders.
When House Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona posted a video on his official social media channels depicting him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, his party did … well, nothing.
The video, which Gosar alternately defended and deleted, certainly demanded a response. The roughly 90-second segment, an altered Japanese anime video, replaced the animated characters’ faces with images of Gosar and other House members. In one segment, “Gosar” strikes a character with the likeness of Ocasio-Cortez in the neck with a sword before threatening another character representing President Joe Biden.
It’s the kind of juvenile and hostile display that would normally require the intervention of a middle school guidance counselor, not the U.S. House of Representatives.
Yet, Gosar’s Republican colleagues remained mum, condoning by their silence the type of murderous fantasies that would threaten many Americans’ employment. (Talk about creating a hostile work environment!) It was a repeat of the House’s inaction earlier this year in the wake of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s expressions of support for violence against Democrats. The full House at that time voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments with 11 Republicans joining all Democrats.
There were even fewer profiles in conscience this time around, as the House took the more serious step of formally censuring Gosar, as well as revoking his committee assignments. Only two Republicans — Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois — joined Democrats in supporting the measure.
Instead, many Republicans used the pre-vote debate to grandstand — not so much in Gosar’s defense, as his actions are indefensible, but in the misleading, mud-slinging manner that has metastasized from right-wing radio to cable TV news to the halls of Congress. We’ll spare you examples. Suffice to say it was a sad and shabby display, wholly characteristic of what the Republican Party has largely become.
Let’s be frank. Gosar’s photoshopped video wasn’t just “a cartoon,” as some House Republicans sought to dismiss it. Holding Gosar accountable wasn’t “a dumb waste of time,” as one GOP representative insisted, or “an abuse of power,” as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy whined.
It was a necessary step to punish a clear and intentional effort to encourage violence against a lawmaker who already regularly receives death threats.
“These threats specifically targeted a woman, a woman of color, which is, as the resolution states, a global phenomenon meant to silence women, to discourage them for seeking positions of authority and participating in public life,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admonished. “Again, this is about workplace harassment and violence against women.”
It’s not enough.
Gosar has failed to apologize, failed to acknowledge the seriousness of his actions and failed to take responsibility for the hateful video. In fact, he defiantly reposted it following the House vote.
Censure is the most serious measure the House can take short of expulsion. In this case, the House stopped short.
Yes, a two-thirds vote is needed to expel a congressional representative. And yes, that threshold would not have been reached. But that’s only because, unlike the Las Vegas Raiders, congressional Republicans are comfortable with someone who traffics in and glorifies violence being part of their team.