Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not ask for this.
Yes, she’s a public servant who, by definition, knows that she signed up for a kind of scrutiny that comes with a job as an elected official — but surely not this kind.
And she’s not shied away from the spotlight during her less than two years in Congress.
Indeed, at times she’s courted it quite effectively. But she didn’t expect to get this kind of attention.
This, after all, was an altered, animated death fantasy video, in which Ocasio-Cortez is assassinated. And this was posted by a colleague of hers, a fellow member of the United States Congress, if you can believe it.
The video was shared by Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican cretin who inexplicably still represents the great state of Arizona, with the question, “Any anime fans out there?” — as if he were just wondering who might enjoy watching a quick clip in which he and other far-right looney tunes murder — yes, murder — Ocasio-Cortez and President Joe Biden.
The video is offensive and also absurd, and of the variety that floated around during the Trump administration, like one depicting Trump smacking down CNN in a WWE-style wrestling match. To which CNN responded, “It is a sad day when the President of the United States encourages violence against reporters.” Instead of eschewing this creepy, culty and disturbing fan art (or the “fans” behind them), some Republicans have amplified it, basking in the radioactive warmth of its violence.
And so, with seemingly no concern for Ocasio-Cortez’s safety, Gosar glibly took to Twitter to incite violence against a fellow member — notably a woman of color whom he and other Republicans have decided “deserves it.”
This reminds me of something. Once upon a time — or just a few years ago — conservatives made it their mission to call out this kind of violent misogyny. I know, I was there. Misogyny-watch was something of a cottage industry for the right in the 20-aughts and -teens.
And believe me, we were on solid ground and had plenty of material.
There was MSNBC host Ed Schultz, announcing a “bimbo alert” for Sarah Palin, and calling Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut.” MSNBC’s Martin Bashir fantasized about someone defecating in Sarah Palin’s mouth — on live television. Liberal writer Matt Taibbi wrote of Michelle Malkin, “When I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy set of balls in her mouth.”
The high-minded intellectuals at Hustler similarly “imagined” me with a penis in my mouth — retribution for being conservative. Keith Olbermann was a routine offender, suggesting I should have been aborted and calling Malkin a “big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.” Feminists got particularly offended by his misogyny when he mused that the only way to defeat Hillary Clinton was to find “somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out.”
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews had a long history of demeaning and misogynistic comments about everyone from Clinton to Palin to Michele Bachmann.
We were outraged — rightly — by this awful pattern of behavior, whereby men degraded women, reduced them to their sexual body parts, imagined violence, rape and other kinds of attacks on them.
That is, until Donald Trump did it.
From the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he discussed grabbing women by their genitals, to his near-constant attacks on women’s looks, to the multiple allegations of sexual assault against him, suddenly the misogyny we’d railed against for so many years was... tolerable. You know, because of judges and stuff.
Trump recruited conservative women like Kellyanne Conway, once a critic of misogyny, to give his own misogyny cover. She happily obliged by ignoring his and gaslighting American voters with ludicrous cries of sexism against, well, nearly everyone she met, from CNN’s Anderson Cooper to Dana Bash, Sen. Mazie Hirono to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Cory Booker to Sen. Tim Kaine. They were the problem, she insisted. Not Trump.
For anyone who cared about intellectual consistency — and misogyny — this utter abandonment of both was disorienting, to say the least. It was bad when Olbermann — an oft-fired talking-head with an increasingly-diminishing fan base — did it, but somehow less egregious when the leader of the free world did it?
So it’s lamentable, but wholly unsurprising, that we’ve arrived at the logical conclusion, which is that a sitting member of Congress is posting a death fantasy video about a congresswoman, and with little to no reaction from the former misogyny watchers on the right.
To what end are Republicans going to tolerate the incitement of violence and misogyny like Gosar’s murder fantasy video? Until there’s actual violence done to Ocasio-Cortez? Because that’s, I fear, exactly where this is heading. She did not ask for this.
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