Paul Gosar's Sickening Video Is a Window Into the American Far Right

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Photo credit: Tom Williams - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tom Williams - Getty Images

Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona's Fourth Congressional District is such a great guy that six of his siblings appeared in ads opposing his reelection and endorsing his opponent. Imagine what he must be like at Thanksgiving. Even Louie Gohmert's kin have not, as far as we know, actively campaigned to get him out of a job. Since the voters of Arizona's Fourth decided to ignore the advice of Grace, David, Jennifer, Tim, Joan and Gaston Gosar, and chose instead to send Paul back to Washington for a sixth(!) term in Congress, he's been plenty busy. He's hard at work casting January 6 as a day of peaceful, patriotic protest—don't believe your eyes and ears—and his work in the lead-up to that grand day in American history has come under some scrutiny. He can also be found speaking at political gatherings that most of us would consider off the beaten path. The guy is also bug-eyed insane on the topic of immigration, which he made readily apparent once again on Monday.

In fact, Gosar made it readily apparent that he is just generally bug-eyed insane. This United States congressman published an adapted anime clip on both his official and personal Twitter accounts in which hordes of immigrants are streaming towards the southern border to kill us all. The hero of the piece is Gosar, a dentist, whose face is superimposed onto an anime character. Our champion responds to the apocalyptic invasion of America by dehumanized brown people by murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with swords and, though we aren't treated to the follow-through, presumably killing an anime character re-faced with President Joe Biden's countenance as well. "The creativity of my team is off the hook," Gosar offered while sharing the video, to which Twitter soon added a note: "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about hateful conduct. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible."

Beyond the fact that this is the work of a seriously disordered mind—again, six of his siblings tried to warn us here—it's also quite a window into the state of the far right in this country. ("Everyone needs to relax," said Jessica Lycos, Gosar's digital director, in a statement.) Here you've got a classic cocktail of immigration hysteria paired with a building embrace of violent force as a remedy for political disputes. We learn here that AOC and Biden support allowing some of these Others to enter the country and Destroy the America You Know and Love. Once the rhetoric on that side of the equation gets hot enough, the remedies you can justify on the other side get more and more extreme.

So Gosar's video superimposes literal blood spray on top of footage of people...slowly crossing a river. Defenders will likely say this is just anime styling, but it's clear that the message—very common on the right these days—is that (nonwhite) immigrants are violent criminals. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. The solution, helpfully provided, is a phalanx of dourly uniformed, thoroughly de-individualized Agents of the State, whom we're to understand are fighting this World War Z invasion on the ground. There's even footage of paratroopers streaming from the sky, in case you were still confused about whether we're at war with the people from Honduras or Guatemala who show up at the border, many of whom are simply asking for safe harbor after a harrowing journey to flee the cruelty and horrors of home—conditions that the United States did its part to fuel over these last decades.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images

In addition to the Border Patrol agents on horseback, Gosar himself is cast as a hero here. Presumably he sees some connection between his phantasmagorical speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives and the actual enforcement of immigration law at the border. When I spoke with Border Patrol agents down in McAllen, Texas, I did not get the sense they'd be overly impressed with some dentist in Washington, D.C. implying that he was standing with them, shoulder to shoulder, doing what is actually an extremely dangerous and difficult job policing the Rio Grande. Fittingly for this little anime adaptation, we have here some authoritarian cosplay. The Leaders must communicate physical supremacy along with political strength, as the most recent former president made clear.

But just to be plain, this is fascism. They will call it a joke, and say everyone is overreacting, just as they did through much of their standard-bearer's months-long attempt to steal the last election. (This is why Jason Concepcion called it "an Edgelord Coup.") On November 10, 2020, one Trump aide asked, "What's the downside for humoring him?" in reference to the then-president's quest to remain in power in contravention of the will of the people. We found out soon enough what the downside was. It's a joke until it's not, and it's a joke that injects more of this poison into the body politic. Like the former guy, Gosar is opposed to immigration, full stop. He has proposed banning all immigration for 10 years, a solution that will surely stop people from entering the country illegally. (In the process, Gosar suggested that Biden's immigration policy was ushering in America's "cultural destruction." This isn't even a dogwhistle at some point.) It might help to actually fix and streamline our legal immigration system so that route looks more viable for people who want to come here, but it was never about "illegal" immigration, anyway.

It's about Those People coming here. And with the continuing escalation of rhetoric around what Those People will do if they're allowed in—they'll destroy American culture, for one thing—Gosar and his fellow travelers are building the case for more extreme action in response. If this reactionary delusion is allowed to grow and flourish further, we will at some point enter a horrifying new stage. And the signs suggest it will. Gosar's putative boss, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is reportedly eyeing sanctions against some of his flock this week, but there's no suggestion Gosar will be among them. McCarthy is looking to punish members who voted for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework without his sign-off.

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