December 1, 2021

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Gosar’s violent anime video is more than just a threat. It’s also a white-nationalist dogwhistle


The scenes in Gosar’s video show the series’ chief protagonist—his face replaced by Gosar’s—attacking the evil, mindless “titans” that are ravaging human civilization, their faces replaced by Ocasio-Cortez’s and Biden’s. The video is interspersed with news footage of immigrants at the U.S. border and Border Patrol officers engaging in various enforcement activities.

Attack on Titan has become a favorite of the white-nationalist crowd because, in addition to its extreme violence, its extended storyline is an unmistakable metaphor for classic antisemitic conspiracy theories, with an elite cabal called the Marleyans overseeing the genocide of a persecuted race of humans called the Eldians. In the world of the alt-right, where anime is a predominant form of entertainment, the response has been unabashedly enthusiastic:

On 4chan, a website now nearly synonymous with the alt-right, the rabid message board /pol/ has archived 57 distinct threads with Attack on Titan in the subject line since 2016 alone. And this is hardly an exhaustive list of racist threads citing or discussing the show. In 2014, a user with a Nazi flag described the series as “one of the most redpilled shows I have seen in a long time,” while people down the list said it was an endorsement of “the revival of National Socialism.” A more recent post from 2019, titled “Redpilling Propaganda in the Form of Movies, TV Programs,” used season three of Attack on Titan as its case study.

Gosar’s digital director, Jessica Lycos, issued a statement that makes light of the video’s threatening content: “Everyone needs to relax,” she said. Similarly, Gosar’s Twitter account posted a meme with a crying “Soyjak” saying, “Your cartoon anime scares me with your jet flying and lightsabers,” to which a “Yes Chad” replies: “It’s a cartoon. Relax.”

Twitter chose not to remove the post, despite the clear violation of its terms of service. Instead, it limited the ability to retweet or reply to the post, while posting a warning on it: “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.”

However, Gosar’s Democratic colleagues weren’t buying the “it’s just a cartoon” excuse. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for an investigation into Gosar’s conduct: “Threats of violence against Members of Congress and the President of the United States must not be tolerated,” she tweeted. “@GOPLeader should join in condemning this horrific video and call on the Ethics Committee and law enforcement to investigate.”

“This is sick behavior from Rep Paul Gosar,” California Democrat Ted Lieu tweeted. “He tweeted out the video showing him killing Rep Ocasio-Cortez from both his official account and personal account. In any workplace in America, if a coworker made an anime video killing another coworker, that person would be fired.”

Ocasio-Cortez commented that “a creepy member I work with who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups shared a fantasy video of him killing me and he’ll face no consequences [because] @GOPLeader cheers him on with excuses. Fun Monday! Well, back to work because institutions don’t protect [women of color].”

“Remember when [Florida Republican Ted Yoho] accosted me on the Capitol [steps] and called me a f—ing b—. Remember when Greene ran after me a few months ago screaming … Remember when she stalked my office the [first] time [with] insurrectionists and people locked inside. All at my job and nothing ever happens,” she added.

Minnesota Congressman Ilhan Omar tweeted: “This man should not serve in Congress. Fantasizing about violently attacking your colleagues has no place in our political discourse and society.”

Max Berger of More Perfect Union pointed out that Gosar was heavily involved in the runup to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection (and has been heavily promoting the conspiracy theory that the event was a “Deep State” operation ever since). “He’s still promoting violence against Democratic members of Congress,” he tweeted. “He should be expelled from Congress immediately.”

In an interview on The View Tuesday, Congressman Adam Schiff opined that Gosar “has no business being in Congress.” He noted that Republicans so far have been entirely mute about Gosar’s tweet, noting that some of them are reportedly lining up to reprimand their 13 GOP colleagues who voted for Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“Gosar creates this video glorifying violence against one of our colleagues who’s already been the subject of death threats, and that’s perfectly OK,” he said. “They are repeatedly glorifying violence.”

Not to mention white-nationalist antisemitism.


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