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Even in a sharply divided country and bitterly polarized Washington, "traditionally there remained one little bit of common ground: The Nazis were bad," Ben Jacobs writes at New York. "But the actions of Congressman Paul Gosar in recent months have tested that proposition."
Rep. Gosar (R-Ariz.), a far-right Republican in Congress since 2010, first gained national notoriety when six of his siblings warned voters about his extremism and endorsed his opponent in 2018. The organizers of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot claim him as a driving force, and in February, Gosar was the surprise keynote speaker and only member of Congress at an event hosted by the white nationalist group America First and its founder, Nicholas Fuentes.
"Then last week, Gosar a was revealed to be planning a campaign fundraiser with Fuentes, who has engaged in Holocaust denialism, praised segregation, and repeatedly made anti-Semitic comments," Jacobs notes. Gosar initially said he wasn't sure "why anyone is freaking out" about the Fuentes event, then claimed he had "no idea what's going on" with the fundraiser.
Gosar's embrace of Fuentes "is perhaps the most vivid example of the Republican Party's growing acceptance of extremism," The New York Times reports. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) hasn't punished or, for the most part, even publicly reprimanded Gosar, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), or any other House Republicans "who espouse fringe beliefs or peddle misinformation," even as he "moved quickly to try to silence" Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) for criticizing former President Donald Trump.
McCarthy did at least condemn Greene for comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust, and it's "befuddling" he "has yet to even chastise Gosar," whose "association with Fuentes has put him in a category of his own even by the standards of the far-right Trumpist wing of the GOP," Jacobs writes.
So how has Gosar flown under the radar as Republicans like Greene gain infamy? "Republicans haven't been forced to play defense on Gosar," partly due to chance and largely because "Democrats have remained relatively quiet," Jacobs argues. Democrats either don't want to elevate Fuentes and his white nationalists with free publicity or have a hard time making a case against Gosar based on his allies, as opposed to his words. Unlike former Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who McCarthy did punish, Gosar has "avoided mimicking the kind of explicitly racist language" used by Fuentes, the Times explains.