Rep. Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, posted an absolutely unhinged video on Twitter yesterday, that spliced the Attack on Titan anime together with footage from the U.S. border with Mexico, and showed characters attacking Democratic lawmakers, including President Biden.
“Any anime fans out there?” Gosar tweeted from his Congressional account with the video attached. The 90-second mashup shows Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, and Rep. Lauren Boebert, Republican of Colorado, as the apocalyptic anime’s heroes, protecting a city from giant invaders. One of the invaders has Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s face on it, and is killed by a character bearing Gosar’s face. At another point, President Joe Biden’s face appears, and once again Gosar’s head is transposed onto the Attack on Titan hero, lunging at Biden with two swords drawn.
“The creativity of my team is off the hook,” Gosar wrote from his personal Twitter account while retweeting the video. It’s now been viewed over 3 million times, and while flagged by Twitter with a warning for “hateful conduct” it remains up.
“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about hateful conduct,” reads the warning. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
Ocasio-Cortez responded later in the day calling Gosar “creepy” and criticizing Republican leadership for condoning it.
“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 And he’ll face no consequences bc @GOPLeader cheers him on with excuses,” she wrote. “Fun Monday! Well, back to work bc institutions don’t protect woc.”
Gosar, who has been representing Arizona constituents since 2010, has never found a crackpot right-wing conspiracy or white nationalist group he didn’t like. Earlier this year, he voted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and called the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol the work of “peaceful protesters.” Over the summer, he attended a rally with commentator Nicholas Fuentes, who the Justice Department has labeled as a white supremacist. His own siblings have called for him to be removed from office.
Attack on Titan has always had a fascist subtext, and its surface level conflict of a city being overrun by monsters makes it an obvious choice for demagogues trying to foment xenophobia and bigotry. That doesn’t make the anime bad, but it has given the hyper-violent series a huge fanbase among the alt-right. Meanwhile, last year, ABC News reported 54 cases of real-world violence connected to then-President Trump’s bashing of immigrants and minorities.
Twitter finally banned Trump in January of this year, two days after the assault on the Capitol, because it was afraid he might urge his followers to do it again.