New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tore into House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Wednesday in an impassioned speech as the body considered whether to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar for posting an anime video that depicted himself killing her.
‘What is so hard? What is so hard about saying that this is wrong? This is not about me. This is not about Rep. Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept,’ said Ocasio-Cortez.
‘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,’ she said. ‘It’s sad. It’s a sad day.’
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) lambasted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for being ‘unable to condemn incitement of violence against a member of this body,’ after he opposed a resolution to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)
She spoke immediately after McCarthy – who described the vote as a slippery slope and threatened a precedent where a variety of Democrats who have made inflammatory statements would be stripped of their committee assignments in the future.
‘It’s a sad day in which a member who leads a political party in the United States of America cannot bring themselves to say that issue of a depiction of murdering a member of Congress is wrong,’ Ocasio-Cortez, 32, intoned. ‘Instead decides to venture off into a tangent about gas prices. And inflation. What is so hard?’ she said.
‘This nihilism runs deep,’ she said. ‘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 what 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.’
‘Do you think that should happen on a school board?… And if it’s not acceptable there, why should it be accepted here?’ she said.
‘What is so hard? What is so hard about saying that this is wrong?’ Ocasio-Cortez said
She slammed McCarthy for failing to rein in his member, who didn’t publicly apologize, and says he did not apologize to his conference.
‘This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. But this is about what we are willing to accept,’ she said.
She spoke after McCarthy denounced the effort as a power grab.
He said repeatedly it was an example of ‘Rules for thee, but not for me’ by the Democrats, and pointed to inflammatory statements by House Democrats.
‘It’s about control. It’s not about a standard that everybody lives by.’
Then he focused on the move to strip Gosar of his committee seats, and said the precedent being established by Speaker Nancy Pelosi could boomerang.
‘Under the Pelosi precedent, all the members I mentioned will need the approval of a majority to keep those positions in the future,’ he said.
The House moved forward Wednesday toward a vote on whether to censure Republican Rep. Paul Gosar for posting a photoshopped anime video that shows him killing fellow Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Biden – with a Democratic leader saying the Arizona rep’s action might be ‘criminal.’
The conservative lawmaker would be stripped of his two committee assignments and be required to stand in the well of the House to have the censure resolution read aloud if it passes the House Wednesday.
The House voted to pass a rule to debate the censure resolution on a 222 to 208 vote, with just two Republicans crossing the aisle to bring it up.
House Republicans began the task of defending Gosar, with Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) saying a move to strip Gosar’s committee assignments ‘tramples on the traditional norms of the House.’
Cole called the video itself ‘certainly provocative, and in my opinion inappropriate,’ but accused Democrats of trying to ‘play politics with this moment.’
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called the video ‘vile, hateful, outrageous, dangerous and inciting to violence against a colleague.’
‘This may be a criminal act as well as an act that certainly brings dishonor to the House of Representatives,’ Hoyer told reporters Tuesday. ‘That we would get to this low level of actions with colleagues, it’s totally unacceptable, and action must be taken.’
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) on the House floor blasted the video as ‘fantasized violence’ that could have a real world effect.
‘This Congress knows what happens when members of the radical right get stirred up by their leaders. Just a few month ago, this Congress had to hide in safe rooms under the protection of police and soldiers,’ she said in a reference to Jan. 6th, on a day ‘QAnon shaman’ Jacob Chansley was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in the Capitol riot.
Gosar would be just the 24th House member in history to be censured, joining a group that includes a skein of confederates censured for disloyalty to the union, lawmakers who sold appointments, people who used ‘unparliamentary language,’ and one lawmaker who violated a ‘gag rule’ by speaking in favor of a slave rebellion (see chart below).
The resolution would force Gosar, 62, to stand in the well of the House in front of his peers while the resolution is read aloud.
He told ‘The Stew Peters Show’ Tuesday: ‘I did not apologize. This video had nothing to do with harming anybody. It’s exactly what you’re talking about. It’s an anime. You are trying to reach out to the newer generation that likes these anime, these cartoons fabricated in Japanese likeness to actually tell them what is harmful in this bill [Biden’s Build Back Better plan] that they’re missing.’
The last member to be so censured was longtime New York Rep. Charles Rangel, who was stripped of his powerful Ways and Means Committee after a long fight that culminated in the censure, over misuse of congressional letterhead for fundraising and filing inaccurate financial reports and tax returns.
Gosar defended sharing a photoshopped anime video online last week that showed him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when he addressed fellow Republicans behind closed doors on Tuesday, reportedly saying he had not seen the violence before it was posted and that he was trying to reach a younger audience. He sent the video on his official Twitter account.
The censure resolution notes that defense as one of its clauses, which highlight violence against women.
‘Whereas, on November 7, 2021, Representative Paul Gosar posted a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joseph Biden,’ it begins.
It states that ‘depictions of violence can foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials,’ and references the Jan. 6th riot.
‘Whereas violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted,’ the resolution states.
Democrats can pass it on a simple majority. One Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), has said Gosar should be censured ‘for his continued indefensible activities.’ She sits on the House Select Committee on Jan. 6th.
‘That is an insult, not only endangerment of that member of Congress, but an insult to the institution of the House of Representatives,’ said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday. ‘We cannot have members joking about murdering each other, as well as threatening the President of the United States,’ she said.
Events at Tuesday night’s Rules Committee hearing foreshadowed a tense debate.
‘What do you stand for? Do you stand for violence against women, or do you stand against it?’ asked Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.).
‘It’s almost as if we’ve elevated this and made it more of a problem than it ever was,’ said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Tex.). Republicans also complained that the matter didn’t go before the bipartisan House Ethics Committee.
The resolution would also strip Gosar of his seat on the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, where Ocasio-Cortez also sits.
The resolution is authored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who survived the Jonestown massacre and came forward in 2017 to describe being sexually assaulted as a young congressional staffer.
The altered anime video shows a jetpack equipped Gosar attacking AOC with a sword
Gosar reportedly told fellow Republicans at a Tuesday meeting that he had not seen the violence before the video was posted and that he simply wanted to reach a younger audience
The video shows Gosar attacking Rep. Ocasio-Cortez with a sword
House resolution to censure Rep. Paul Gosar
Whereas, on November 7, 2021, Representative Paul Gosar posted a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joseph Biden;
Whereas the video was posted on Representative Gosar’s official Instagram account and used the resources of the House of Representatives to further violence against elected officials;
Whereas Representative Gosar issued a statement on November 9, 2021, defending the video as a ‘symbolic cartoon’ and spreading hateful and false rhetoric about immigrants;
Whereas the leadership of the Republican Party has failed to condemn Representative Gosar’s threats of violence against the President of the United States and a fellow Member of Congress;
Whereas the Speaker of the House made clear that threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States should not be tolerated and called on the Committee on Ethics of the House and law enforcement to investigate the video;
Whereas depictions of violence can foment actual violence and jeopardize the safety of elected officials, as witnessed in this chamber on January 6, 2021;
Whereas violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted;
Whereas a 2016 survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union found that 82 percent of women parliamentarians have experienced psychological violence and 44 percent received threats of death, sexual violence, beatings, or abduction during their term;
Whereas the participation of women in politics makes our government more representative and just:
Now, therefore, be it 1 Resolved, That Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona be 3 censured; Representative Paul Gosar forthwith 5 present himself in the well of the House of Representatives for the pronouncement of censure; and Representative Paul Gosar be censured with the public reading of this resolution by the Speaker.
During a closed-door G.O.P. conference meeting, Gosar said he did not support violence against members of Congress and had removed the video after criticism.
‘It was not his intent to ever harm anybody,’ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters afterwards, according to The Hill.
And Politico reported Gosar told his colleagues that he didn’t intend to encourage violence, but was trying to appeal to ‘a younger audience.’
‘McCarthy told members at conference that Rs should be united on this & that Dems don’t punish their own for comments,’ tweeted reporter Olivia Beavers.
But the controversy comes amid a rise in threats to lawmakers, who feel particularly vulnerable in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.
The video shows a sword-wielding character with Gosar’s superimposed face using a jetpack to soar onto a rooftop before attacking Ocasio-Cortez, striking her with the weapon as blood flies out of her.
‘The cartoon depicts the symbolic nature of a battle between lawful and unlawful policies and in no way intended to be a targeted attack against Representative Cortez or Mr. Biden,’ said Gosar last week.
‘It is a symbolic cartoon. It is not real life. Congressman Gosar cannot fly.’
Gosar is a close ally of former President Trump’s and embraced his false claims that the election was stolen from him.
The original video is from the Japanese anime series Attack on Titan. But the doctored version includes Biden and Ocasio-Cortez’s faces projected on to villains.
Ten Democrats introduced a resolution to censure Gosar.
‘As the events of January 6th have shown, such vicious and vulgar messaging can and does foment actual violence. Violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon meant to silence women and discourage them from seeking positions of authority and participating in public life, with women of color disproportionately impacted,’ they said.
Democrats have not yet decided whether to bring it to the House floor this week, but a vote would make Gosar only the 24th House member to be censured in the chamber’s history.
McCarthy has also come under pressure from members of his own party to act.
Liz Cheney, dumped out of a party leadership role earlier this year for her opposition to former President Trump, accused him of lacking strength.
‘In a moment where you’ve got an avowed white nationalist in Rep. Gosar who has posted a video advocating the killing of another member, the idea that our leader will not stand against that but that he´s somehow going after and allowing attacks against 13 members who are conducting themselves in a serious and substantive way is really outrageous,’ she told the Associated Press.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has gone even further, calling on the House Ethics Committee and federal law enforcement to investigate Gosar.