Top US historian warns that Gosar's violent AOC tweet shows how the GOP risks maiming democracy to death

Top US historian warns that Gosar's violent AOC tweet shows how the GOP risks maiming democracy to death
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 27, 2021. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • A top Yale historian warned that Gosar's AOC tweet shows the GOP's broader threat to US democracy.
  • "They maim democracy. And run the risk of killing it," Joanne Freeman said in a tweet on the GOP's normalization of violence.
  • "Threats of violence lead to actual violence," Freeman warned.

A top Yale historian, Joanne Freeman, warned that a tweet from GOP Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona depicting deadly violence against Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is indicative of the broader threat the Republican party poses to democracy in the US.

In the controversial tweet, which Gosar shared on Monday, the Arizona Republican is depicted as an anime character who at one point seemingly fatally wounds another character with Ocasio-Cortez's face.

Freeman, who specializes in early American politics and political culture, wrote a book on violence in Congress prior to the Civil War: "The Field of Blood." In a tweet responding to Gosar's violent anime video, Freeman said, "Threats of violence lead to actual violence. They clear the ground. They cow opposition. They plant the idea. They normalize it. They encourage it. They maim democracy. And run the risk of killing it."

Gosar's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Ocasio-Cortez excoriated Gosar over the video, referring to him as a "creepy member I work with who fundraises for Neo-Nazi groups." She went on to suggest that Gosar would face no consequences from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.


"And he'll face no consequences bc @GOPLeader cheers him on with excuses," the New York Democrat tweeted.

McCarthy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Gosar was widely criticized online over the tweet and video.

"This is sick behavior from Rep. Paul Gosar," Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California tweeted.

"This is grotesque and demands action by the House of Representatives and social media companies. Glorification & incitement of violence is not just toxic to our democracy, but dangerous for my friends and colleagues. Enough is enough!" Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado tweeted.


"This man should not serve in Congress. Fantasizing about violently attacking your colleagues has no place in our political discourse and society," Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota tweeted.

Twitter flagged Gosar's tweet as in violation of the site's rules on hateful conduct, but did not take it down. Reacting to the backlash, Gosar in a separate tweet shared a meme calling for people to "relax" and downplaying the violent anime video as nothing more than a cartoon.

Historians like Freeman, as well as experts on authoritarianism and democracy watchdogs, have increasingly raised alarm bells about the GOP's normalization of violence in recent years. The concern over the GOP's violent rhetoric and its impact on American democracy accelerated following the deadly January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, which President Donald Trump provoked via lies about the 2020 election. Many sitting Republican lawmakers, including Gosar, amplified Trump's false claims about the election and objected to certifying the results.

Gosar has been accused of involvement in the planning of the fatal riot at the Capitol, though he's denied this.