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Gosar’s threats of violence may be part of a calculated campaign of fascist terror threats and should be taken seriously

Gosar’s threats of violence may be part of a calculated campaign of fascist terror threats and should be taken seriously

When someone threatens to murder you, take them seriously. It’s not a joke, it’s not exaggeration, and it’s not simply “heated words.” It’s not partisanship, symbolism, or a game.

Chauncey Devega of Salon comments that when Rep. Paul Gosar, a far-right Republican from Arizona, uploaded on social media a clip from a Japanese anime film that had been modified to portray a version of him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and then assaulting President Biden earlier this month, it was part of a wider trend of violence in which Republican elected leaders (and their supporters) threaten or instigate people to attack Democrats.

Gosar via Gage Skidmore is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The House of Representatives voted on Nov. 17 to censure Gosar and remove him from his committee responsibilities. This resolution was supported by all Democrats. Only two Republicans in the House voted in favor of it. Republicans, predictably, insist that Gosar’s death threats are a question of “free expression” and hence should not be “censored.”

Republicans also suggested that Ocasio-Cortez and Democrats in general were too “sensitive” in their reaction to Gosar’s alleged effort at humor. This is the reasoning of abusers and terrorists: the victim is always to fault in some manner.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez via her Facebook page mobile uploads

Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, appropriately described Gosar’s deadly conduct and the near-unanimous Republican backing by stating, “In any workplace in America, if a coworker made an anime video killing another coworker, that person would be fired.”

The Republican leadership has threatened to exact vengeance on Democrats if (or rather, when) they retake control after the 2022 midterm elections. Furthermore, Kevin McCarthy, who would then become House Speaker, has vowed to reinstate Gosar to the committees from which he was removed.

Kevin McCarthy via Flickr. Gage Skidmore is licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Gosar reposted his horror video after the censure decision, clearly in defiance and disdain. He has, of course, claimed that he is being persecuted and that the censure vote may incite terrorism and other acts of violence.

Ocasio-Cortez did delivered an address about democracy, violence, decency, and the rule of law to her colleagues and the American people the day before the House censure vote. Unfortunately, such rhetoric will not deter Republican fascists from waging a fear, intimidation, and violence campaign against Democrats and the American people.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-AZ via his Official Facebook page

The video was also a dog whistle signal to Gosar’s white-nationalist following, whom he has been courting for the last year and longer.

Attack on Titan, the anime series and manga comic book that inspired the video’s sequences, is a favorite among white nationalists and the alt-right. That’s because the show is rife with Nazi undertones and overt antisemitism, especially in its plot about an evil race of rulers influencing human struggle.

Paul Gosar and known White Supremacist Nick Fuentes via Fuentes Twitter account

The sequences in Gosar’s video feature the series’ main protagonist — whose face has been changed by Gosar’s — combating the wicked, mindless “titans” who are destroying human civilization, whose faces have been replaced by Ocasio-Cortez and Biden’s. News footage showing immigrants at the US border and Border Patrol officials doing different enforcement tasks are interwoven throughout the film.

Attack on Titan has become a favorite of white nationalists because, in addition to its extreme violence, its extended storyline is a clear metaphor for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, with an elite cabal known as the Marleyans overseeing the genocide of a persecuted human race known as the Eldians. The reaction has been unapologetically joyful in the alt-right community, where anime is a prominent source of entertainment.

Gosar via Gage Skidmore is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Another illustration of the global right’s broad attack on pluralistic democracy. To that purpose, they’ve mastered the art of weaponizing popular culture — particularly in the digital realm — to further their fascist-authoritarian objective. For the most part, the American news media has been unable to grasp and convey this technique to the general public. Worse still, the Democrats have given over that territory (along with the wider “culture war” plan) to Republican fascists and the worldwide right.

Gosar’s terror video is yet another example of how the Republican Party today is attempting to replace traditional politics, in which disagreements are resolved through deliberation and compromise, with a form of politics in which violence is always an option — and, at times, the preferred method of gaining and maintaining power.

Gosar via Gage Skidmore is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Fascism is based on this.

Because “Western civilization” (nearly always coded as white) is fighting a war for “survival” against an array of supposed enemies, including Black and brown people, Jews and Muslims, LGBTQ people, feminists, socialists, “secularists” and “globalists.”

Overall, Republican fascists are attempting to build an American version of what pro-Nazi German legal thinker and philosopher Carl Schmitt referred to as a “state of exception,” in which the Constitution and the rule of law are no longer applicable. When this happens, a fascist leader and his adherents are free to impose their will on the rest of society.

Nazi Salute via Evan Nesterak is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Age of Trump, and America’s escalating democratic problem, is marked by fascist violence.

Of course, the most recent example occurred on Jan. 6, when Trump and his supporters attempted a coup in order to overturn or annul the results of the 2020 presidential election.

During Jan. 6 violent riot at the Capitol via Screenshot of YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWJVMoe7OY0

Hate crimes in the United States increased dramatically under Trump’s administration. White nationalists and other extremists have carried out horrific shootings, and law enforcement has foiled numerous mass-casualty terror schemes.

We’re also seeing an uptick in Republican fascists and their operatives making violent threats against prominent Democrats, local and state election officials, school board members, library employees, and others who are perceived as hurdles to the fascist goal.

Capitol rioter and Trump supporter January 6 via Elvert Barnes is licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

These strategies are intended to destabilize democracy and civil society on the ground in order to prepare the political battlefield for a national insurgency.

 



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