“Remember when our government sent planes to Afghanistan and brought over 100,000 Afghans in less than a week?” Gosar wrote. “We have in the range of up to 40 million illegal aliens in our country. They can be deported by planes, trains and buses. We could easily deport 6 million each year.”
Many of the people who quote tweeted Gosar’s original tweet included the hashtag #DarkMAGA and also pointed out and celebrated the 6 million number which is approximately the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust.
Many others also saw the tweet as a call to action and violence.
“A 9mm round is $0.49,” one user on Gab wrote, while one Twitter user wrote “#DayOfThePlane,” a reference to the white supremacist book the Turner Diaries in which white supremacist rebels take over California and engage in mass lynchings. The book was an inspiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Rory McShane, a political consultant for Gosar’s campaign, said the number had nothing to do with the Holocaust. Rather, he said the number came from extrapolating the weekly number of Afghan refugees evacuated after U.S. troops withdrew from the country last year into a yearly total.
McShane said 115,000 people were evacuated a week. When multiplied by 52 weeks, that would equal 5.98 million people. It’s unclear where the 115,000 figure came from, as media reports from the time noted that the United States was able to evacuate approximately 123,000 refugees in the immediate two weeks after the withdrawal. McShane did not respond to follow-up questions about the numbers.
McShane said no one on Gosar’s senior staff was aware of the #DarkMAGA meme or movement prior to the Arizona Mirror asking about the social media posts. Shortly after speaking with the Mirror, a new version of the tweet without the photo or the 6 million number was posted and the previous posts were deleted.
The #DarkMAGA movement has roots in accelerationist neo-Nazi meme culture and many memes related to it often express a desire for violence against percieved enemies. In many cases, they are accompanied by neo-Nazi imagery.
“I did not know what DarkMAGA was until you brought it to my attention,” McShane told the Mirror. He said Gosar’s use of the imagery was not an endorsement of the views of others who use its style: “The red sepia tone on the picture had no implications.”
This isn’t the first time Gosar has posted, and then deleted, a meme with imagery that is popular in neo-Nazi online culture.
Last year, Gosar tweeted out a meme titled “#GosarGrindset,” which 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 muscular cartoon with Gosar’s head superimposed on it appears in a doorway and a montage of Gosar is played before another 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 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.