Critics are slamming Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona for sharing an altered anime video in which he kills Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and swings swords at President Biden.
Gosar shared the video from both his personal and professional Twitter accounts Sunday, writing “Any anime fans out there?” in the latter. Twitter has not removed the tweets but instead hid them from view, with users required to click on a label in order to see it.
“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about hateful conduct,” reads the label. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
The 92-second clip appears to be an edited version of the opening credits of the Japanese manga series Attack on Titan.
It intersperses clips of migrants and Border Patrol agents, images of Democratic leaders and animation of Republican politicians — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado — on the attack. Blood spatters and words like drugs, crime, murder, poverty, gangs, violence and trafficking flash on the screen at points.
The Phoenix New Times reports that the plot of Attack on Titan is seen by some as an allegory for immigration and white nationalists’ extinction theory and that its anime has faced criticism for antisemitic, pro-fascist and pro-genocidal themes (which the show’s creator denies).
It seems as though the video was done in-house, as Gosar wrote on his personal Twitter that “the creativity of my team is off the hook.” His press secretary has not responded to NPR’s request for comment but told The Washington Post that “everyone needs to relax.”
Ocasio-Cortez castigated Gosar in a series of tweets on Monday, spanning the personal and the political. She slammed Gosar’s video as just one of several incidents of harassment she has faced on the job, arguing that institutions — Congress included — fail to protect women of color.
“So while I was en route to Glasgow, a creepy member I work with who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups shared a fantasy video of him killing me,” she wrote. “And he’ll face no consequences bc [House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy] cheers him on with excuses. Fun Monday! Well, back to work bc institutions don’t protect woc.”
Ocasio-Cortez recalled other incidents that happened at work and without consequences, such as when Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., called her a “f****** b****” on the steps of the Capitol.
She promised to go back to business, but not before taking one final dig at Gosar:
Other Democratic representatives took to Twitter to condemn Gosar’s behavior, which California Rep. Ted Lieu called “sick.”
“In any workplace in America, if a coworker made an anime video killing another coworker, that person would be fired,” he added.
“These blood thirsty losers are more comfortable with violence than voting. Keep exposing them,” tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell, also of California.
Gosar, an ally of former President Donald Trump, has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the Capitol insurrection and has spread misinformation about what happened on Jan. 6. Earlier this year, he denounced “white racism” after speaking at a far-right conference whose organizer spoke approvingly of the storming of the Capitol and white nationalism, the The Washington Post reported.
And Gosar was among the lawmakers whose phone or computer records a House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection asked social media and telecommunications companies to preserve, as those lawmakers were potentially involved with efforts to “challenge, delay or interfere” with the certification or otherwise try to overturn the results of the 2020 election, The Associated Press notes.
This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.