During an appearance on MSNBC this week, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) — who, among other work, serves on the House Intelligence Committee — roundly condemned recent antics from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who posted an edited, partly animated video that depicted him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and swinging weapons at President Joe Biden. Outrage over the video has largely been confined outside of the Republican Party, no matter the universally repulsive nature of the imagery, but Himes insisted that there must be substantive pushback — including from Republicans — to what Gosar did.
Predictably, Gosar has complained about those finding issue with his post. He claimed in a public statement that he doesn’t “espouse violence or harm towards any Member of Congress or Mr. Biden” — although such violence is literally what was depicted within the video. These matters aren’t a joke. As Himes laid out, there can be serious consequences. As he put it:
‘You’re hearing this from somebody who lived through January 6. It is a matter of time before a less responsible follower of Donald Trump, or a less responsible Republican, is going to pick up a weapon and kill someone, and I never imagined that I would be concerned about that, but here we are. I think that’s a very real threat. And if the Republicans can’t dial back their rhetoric, that’s where this is going to end.’
Discussing violent far-right extremists — such as those who might take Gosar’s rhetoric as a green light for action — Himes added the following:
‘They’ve been given license, they’ve been encouraged by the establishment wing of the Republican Party… What the president of the United States said matters… And by the way, nobody’s calling for [Gosar] to be sanctioned. They’re calling for the folks who helped with bridges and roads to be sanctioned… If this continues, somebody’s going to get killed, and while my colleagues will try to wash their hands of that responsibility, make no mistake, the language that is being used, the rhetoric that is being used, is going to result in people being killed or hurt.’
As for what needs to be done, Himes added as follows — although it’s very much worth noting that Republican leaders have been largely silent on the issue:
‘I want to hear from the Republican leadership saying, “We will not tolerate this because somebody is going to get killed.”.. It is our responsibility to call that out in explicit terms. To make it clear that there is no circumstance… under which violence can be anything other than aggressively condemned in our political society… People need to start saying that loud and clear, starting by the way with Kevin McCarthy… If leaders keep tolerating this stuff, somebody’s going to get killed.’