Republican Congressmember Paul Gosar is the first lawmaker to be censured in more than a decade for posting an animated video on social media where he murders Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacks President Biden. The U.S. House of Representatives also voted Tuesday to censure Gosar and strip him of committee assignments. He has refused to apologize, and after the vote he retweeted the video. Speaking from the House floor before the vote, Congressmember Ocasio-Cortez said, “This is not about me. This is not about Representative Gosar. This is about what we are willing to accept.” The co-sponsor of the censure vote, Congressmember Jackie Speier of California, said, “Congressmember Ocasio-Cortez has become the go-to subject of the radical right to stir up their base, as too often is the case for women of color.”
AMY GOODMAN: The House voted to censure Republican Congressmember Paul Gosar for posting an animated video on social media where he murders Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacks President Biden. Just two Republicans voted in favor of the censure: Adam Kinzinger, who said he’s not going to run again, and Congressmember Liz Cheney. Gosar is the first lawmaker to be censured in more than a decade. He was also stripped of his committee assignments. Gosar has refused to apologize and retweeted the violent video after the censure vote.
On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to condemn Gosar and called the censure vote an “abuse of power.” Shortly after the House minority leader spoke, Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez addressed the House.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: 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 — 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 am 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 has results in dampening the participation. And 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?
AMY GOODMAN: That was Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez prior to the vote to censure Republican lawmaker Paul Gosar for posting an animated video on social media where he murders her and attacks President Biden. California Congressmember Jackie Speier also spoke Wednesday, co-sponsor of the censure vote. She herself survived the Jonestown Massacre in 1978. She was shot five times. She was then an aide to Congressmember Leo Ryan, who was assassinated during the massacre.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER: I take no pleasure in introducing this resolution. No one asked me to introduce it. No one tapped me on the shoulder. I am a victim of violence. I know what it’s like. I also was in the gallery clamoring for life when the shots rang out in the Speaker’s Lobby.
We’re here today because a sitting member thought it was OK — OK! — to post a deranged animated video of himself killing a fellow member of this House and also attacking the president of the United States. That video has been seen by 3 million people. It was up for over two days before it was taken down.
Inciting violence begets violence. Congressman Ocasio-Cortez has become the go-to subject of the radical right to stir up their base, as too often is the case for women of color. It is disgusting and profoundly unacceptable.
Tragically, the minority leader has not condemned the video. For eight days, he said nothing. Silence speaks volumes. Silence normalizes violence. Violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon. A 2016 survey by the Inter-Parliamentary Union found that 82% of women parliamentarians have experienced psychological violence, and 44% have received threats of death, rape, beatings or abduction. The intent of these online threats against women is clear: Silence them, strip them of their power, and discourage them from running for office.
AMY GOODMAN: California Congressmember Jackie Speier speaking before the 223-to-207 vote to censure Republican Congressmember Paul Gosar for posting an animated video on social media where he murders Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacks President Biden. After the rare censure vote, Congressman Gosar retweeted the video.
Coming up, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Wengrow and the late David Graeber, who died last year weeks after finishing the epic work. But first we go to Charlottesville, where organizers of the deadly white supremacist rally are on trial. We’ll speak to Slate legal analyst Dahlia Lithwick. Stay with us.