The complicated love affair between Ben Garrison and Donald Trump
Garrison’s was arguably the most fleeting visit by a cartoonist to the White House – he never set foot in it.
On 5 July, cartoonist Ben Garrison announced on his Twitter account that he had been invited to the White House to take part in a social media summit, (a sarao to talk about how badly they are treated) but on 10 July, after various complaints, including from the Anti-Defamation League, the invitation was cancelled.
The reasons are unclear, but it is assumed that the White House has simply chosen to avoid controversy.
The discussion has centred on the now perennial accusations of anti-Semitism, and the source of many of those complaints are based on this 2017 cartoon, which Mike Cernovich commissioned Garrison to post on his podcast’s website and which the Anti-Defamation League has already criticised for spreading messages of “Jewish conspiracy”. Garrison always denied that there was an anti-Semitic message in his criticism of David Petraeus and H.R. McMaster, Soros and the Rothschilds.
Cernovich was a leading proponent of the absurd conspiracy theory dubbed during the 2016 presidential campaign as“Pizzagate” that claimed Hillary Clinton led a network of child sex exploiters that led a 29-year-old North Carolina man to fire an assault rifle into a D.C.-area pizza parlour believing abducted children were inside.
Calls to “unmask” Garrison
Jonathan Greenblatt, head of ADL (Anti-Defamation League) openly called for Garrison’s invitation to the summit to be withdrawn.
“Anti-Semitism is normalised when obvious examples, such as grossly anti-Semitic cartoons, are overlooked. Just as cartoons of this kind should not be published anywhere, cartoonists who produce such hatred should not be invited to the White House. We call on the Casablanca to rescind the invitation”.
The summit also criticised for bringing together notable creators and propagators of fake news from the extreme right and Trump’s campaign manager for the 2020 elections.
It would be ironic to have to sue the “Anti-Defamation League” for … defamation. (The ADL pointed out racism in the past when it suited their allies). Yet they continue to defame Garrison with a false cartoon attributed to himwith a false cartoon attributed to the cartoonist. Retract, or be sued.
On the same day, the ADL added a note under the cartoon clarifying that it was a manipulation.
In fact, scores of manipulated cartoons are still circulating on the internet garrison tried to fight back, unsuccessfully.
Some even sarcastically linked the issue to the NYT’s accusations of anti-Semitism that led it to remove the cartoons from its pages, and some even believe that Trump is now censoring even his own rank and file (Deleted tweet: twitter.com/vdare/status/1148984931671875584)
A side note on Garrison’s approach
Amidst the noise caused by the clash of opinions and accusations, I think important details full of curious paradoxes escape us.
The first of these, at least for me, is Garrison’s use of what in the USA they call “commissions”. Something that is no less than what we know here as commissions, albeit with some slight differences. Commissioning a political cartoon is not the same as commissioning a logo or a caricature of a character.
When someone commissions a cartoon from a political cartoonist, he or she is actually setting a line of thought and a specific opinion that the cartoonist must share because he or she will sign it. It would be only fair that, in that case, both signatures should appear on the cartoon. I can’t imagine Garrison accepting commissions to draw cartoons critical of Trump.
Everyone is free to make a living as they want and can, but accepting to illustrate other people’s opinions for money, no matter how much they coincide with one’s own, I think it goes against what I understand as the practice of the profession.
That said, I also don’t believe in the mantra that if the comedian doesn’t charge against everyone, then he is someone’s buffoon. Who turned this nonsense into a sacred law?
Every author has the right to take a stand wherever and however he wants, even by taking sides. That’s what Garrison does without hiding and anyone who doesn’t like it can criticise him and even pick up a pencil and draw from another point of view.
Ben Garrison has always given an adoring treatment to the figure of Trump. In his cartoons he elevates him to superhero status , worships him with passion and depicts him as a pop icon. He draws him muscular, young, handsome, triumphant. Any one of his cartoons could illustrate his campaign leaflets and would put the beautiful illustrations in cult magazines on a par with those in children’s stories.
There are billions of miles between defending a political position and idolising a politician.
He has even gone so far as to release vignettes as low as this one, in which, taking advantage of one about shitheaded joke about Michelle Obama, he created a scene that seems anything but a political criticism or satire. Where is the gag here?
The cartoonist is such a fan of the president that he even highlighted as an achievement that Trump shared one of the cartoons published on his page.
Trumpist to the end
Now, the same man to whom he has done so much, and so many times, has turned his back on the ball. When the bogeyman is at home, it takes a lot of juggling to hide him. Ben Garrison did not hesitate to blame everyone but Trump.
The cartoonist wanted to get the last word in a communiqué in which he assured that he had agreed with the White House not to talk about the matter, but that he was forced to when some media, such as CNN, began to publish that he had been “disinvited”.
Still, he confesses that his “love” for Trump, or in other words his animus for anything on the opposite side, remains intact.
If only someone would look at me the way Garrison looks at Trump.