Gosar shares, then deletes meme used by neo-Nazis, white nationalists

By: - October 12, 2021 2:47 pm

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar. Photo by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

This story contains descriptions of videos and images of a racially charged nature, as do some of the links. 

Republican Congressman Paul Gosar tweeted out a video meme last week, which he later deleted, that has roots in neo-Nazi and white nationalist culture. 

The since-deleted tweet, which was saved by the internet archive, begins with a cartoon image of a man looking dismayed as a number of headlines are displayed while the song “Little Dark Age” by MGMT plays. 

Before the song crescendos, a buff cartoon with Gosar’s head superimposed on it appears in a doorway before the cartoon character, and a montage of Gosar is played before another photoshopped image of the congressman’s head on a muscular man is shown while a spinning “America First” logo is shown around his head. 

The meme follows a format that is popular among online neo-Nazis and white nationalists who take the same song and superimpose it with images from Nazi Germany, as well as other imagery, the Arizona Mirror found. 

A search for “Little Dark Age” on the popular video sharing site BitChute found a number of similar videos that were posted well before the Gosar video that all follow the same theme. 

One video depicts the same images of the same cartoon man, also known as Doomer guy, looking at headlines about migration, including language that evokes the conspiracy theory of the “Great Replacement.” 

That idea, popular among white supremacists, holds that white Americans are being replaced by immigrants, usually as part of an intentional plot. It has been seized upon by extremist groups such as the American Identity Movement and Generation Identity.

It has also inspired violence. Fears of immigrants undermining his vision of a white, Christian Europe motivated Anders Behring Breivik’s murderous rampage in 2011 at a Norwegian youth summer camp. 

In the U.S., the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in 2018 was the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in United States history. Just before it took place, the killer took to right-wing social media site Gab to say he believed that immigrants were being brought in to replace and “kill our people.” 

The next year in New Zealand, a shooter killed 51 people and injured 40 after posting a 74-page manifesto titled “The Great Replacement.” 

Again in 2019, in El Paso, Texas, a shooter who went on to kill 23 in a Walmart would cite the manifesto in one of his own, saying it was a response to the “hispanic invasion of Texas.” 

The “Doomer guy” video goes on to show images of Germany during WWII and films depicting the ancient Romans, who have often been a target for Nazis of the past and Neo-Nazis for appropriation

But this video is not the only example of the meme format in use. 

Another similar video used the same song and compiled footage of Nazi Germany, and the user who posted it on BitChute uses “1488” in their username. The number is a combination of two different popular white supremacist numeric symbols. The 14 standing for the 14 words symbol and the 88 standing for “Heil Hitler.” 

Other versions of the meme are less historical compilation and a compilation of trolls. 

For example, another video discovered by the Mirror, which uses the same song and similar format, mocks Black people, shows its creator in a full Nazi uniform and shows multiple people doing Nazi salutes. 

Before Gosar deleted the tweet, some white nationalists and white supremacists on Twitter discussed its similarity to popular alt-right memes. One, for example, said the only difference between Gosar’s tweet and “w**nat” content was the lack of an image called a “spinsun.” 

The term “w**nats” is used by the alt-right to describe people within the white nationalist movement that generally advocate for violence, antisemitism and accelerationism

The “spinsuns” and “spinny wheel” that other Twitter users complained about referred to an image known as a sonnenrad, also known as the sunwheel or Black Sun. The Nazi party adopted the sonnenrad and it has become used by a number of modern Neo-Nazi groups as well as in violent attacks. The man who killed 51 and injured 40 more in New Zealand had a sonnenrad on his manifesto. 

The most popular version of the sonnenrad used by white nationalists and white supremacists is two concentric circles with crooked rays that come out from the center circle and to the outer circle. Some sonnenrads have a swastika in the center or another norse rune. 

The meme that Gosar tweeted did have a spinning “America First” logo around the congressman’s head. 

Gosar’s office did not respond to a request for comment asking why he deleted the meme, where it came from, if it was created internally or if they knew about its origins within far-right subcultures. 

The congressman has been an ally of white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes, whose followers are known for their extremist views. 

Groypers are white nationalists and far-right activists who often troll conservatives who they feel are not extreme enough. Though loosely organized and members of many different groups, groypers are almost all followers of Fuentes. 

One of the main goals of groypers is to push conservatives in a white nationalist direction, and one way they attempt to do this is to present their views in a mainstream appearance or within mainstream organizations. 

Gosar spoke at an event held by Fuentes but later attempted to distance himself by saying he denounced “white racism” and said he  attended the event to reach a younger voting base, according to the Washington Post

In 2019, his office said he unwittingly retweeted content related to the QAnon movement. 

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.