Story by Joseph Ford Cotto
Newspapers constitute a dying industry these days.
Even more notable ones, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, dwell in the shadows of network and cable news, not to mention various blogs, along with whatever gets thrown around on social media -- those last two bearing paramount significance for Millennials. Talk radio should not be overlooked insofar as their parents are concerned.
So, one might expect that an editorial cartoonist hardly enjoys much significance these days. Aside from a diminishing pool of middle-aged, middle-to-upper income adults and those older than them, who really cares about what gets printed? The only exception is if a story gets picked up by television personalities, shock jocks, or somehow gains traction on Facebook and the like.
Despite daunting odds, Ben Garrison has become a formidable presence in political commentary. His cartoons, representing a libertarian perspective with great respect for the nation-state, have developed a life of their own.
In a certain context, this works in Garrison's favor -- a cartoon, for instance, depicting Britain's departure from the European Union's sinking ship (in the process of being hijacked by Islamists) was received with widespread acclaim. Not only was Garrison's work entertaining, but it described a contentious, complicated situation with simple clarity.
His high profile does come with costs, however. About seven years ago, neo-Hitlerites took issue with Garrison after he found a Nazified version of one of his cartoons and requested it be taken down. While Garrison's wish was granted, a cadre of keyboard warriors proceeded to publish doctored cartoons which twist a limited government message into one Der Fuhrer would support.
As Garrison's signature remained on each altered cartoon, an untold number of folks came to believe he was an advocate for Nazi ideology.
"Garrison is .... the victim of one the most extraordinary and longest-running smear campaigns on the internet," Breitbart explained last year, later mentioning that he "has more to worry about than just remixed comics. The trolls are more dedicated to their craft than that. They have spent years spreading the myth of Ben Garrison the white supremacist" which includes a "painstakingly crafted fake profile of Garrison".
Through it all, even as his business suffered, Garrison remained steadfast in his commitment to personal liberty.
"We are trying to do our part by means of artwork to help raise awareness of the drift toward tyranny," his cartoon-related website, GrrGraphics, says. "We as private citizens need to reclaim and fight for our rights as enumerated in our Constitution. It's time to speak out and express our outrage at the growing tyranny of Big Government."
Joseph Ford Cotto: More than anything else, why have principles such as immigration restriction and cultural cohesion managed to evade scrutiny from 'respectable' politicos on both sides and secure starring roles in the future of American conservatism?
Ben Garrison: Immigration has always existed and conservatives are fine with that if it’s done legally. Native Americans may not be—after all, they had immigration forced upon them. What we object to is illegal immigration and the massive dumping of people who have very disparate cultures. Muslims, for example. They consider their religion and Sharia Law to be superior and that’s a problem.
At the same time, the left insists that these new immigrants need not assimilate and in fact they say it’s ‘racist’ to insist that assimilation is necessary. Thus we get the Balkanization of America. It’s not necessary to speak English or even adhere to the Constitution. Fifty percent of Muslims in America now want Sharia Law, which is completely at odds with the American way of life as we have known it.
Cotto: Richard Spencer's now-infamous speech -- in which he hailed Trump and some audience members responded with a Nazi-like salute -- is said to have been the driving force behind the alt-right's disintegration. While this is undeniably true to some extent, could it be said that the alt-right was destined to fracture as it was a loosely-bound coalition to begin with?
Garrison: I watched his speech and he presented his argument clearly and confidently. However, I shook my head in disgust when many saluted in that manner. Spencer had a drink in his hand, so it was unclear if he really did make the Roman salute, but the ‘hail Trump’ nonsense was cringe-worthy even if Spencer insists it was all a joke.
Richard Spencer lives in Whitefish, which is about 40 miles north of me. I spoke to him briefly over the phone. He’s a smart, well-spoken and handsome young man. It’s no wonder he’s gaining supporters and has influence, but in my opinion his influence is greatly over-rated by the left. Spencer isn’t a Nazi, but he probably drove away many with the ‘hail’ joking. Many don’t want to be associated with that Nazi shtick. I don’t like that stuff either. My father was in WWII and part of the generation who fought against the Nazi murderers.
That said, my dad's generation fought for our freedom, which includes freedom of speech. I will help Richard protect his right of free speech. Recently, his mother was attacked in Whitefish and forced to sell some of her property. She disavowed her son’s political sentiments, but nevertheless there were those who wanted his mother to pay a price and get out of town. That’s a witch hunt and it’s not right. Nowadays people are out to ruin one’s ability to make a living just because they object to someone’s political views. This has happened to me.
People have a right to be liberal, conservative or Libertarian. They even have a right to be racist or anti-Semitic. In America, hate speech is still legal and it should stay legal. Do we really want to set up a commissariat of free speech and let people such as Hillary Clinton decide what ‘hate speech' is? If we stand back and allow those with whom we disagree to be silenced by hate speech laws, then it’s a matter of time before political discourse is limited to ‘official,’ statist-approved speech. We must not allow this to happen. I will do all I can to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Even though I despise what Andrew Anglin says, his free speech should be protected and if people want to donate to him, this should be allowed, too.
Cotto: Insofar as the foreseeable future of American conservatism is concerned, do you believe that the 'alt-right' brand is damaged beyond the level of repair necessary for serious influence over public policy?
Garrison: I don’t believe the alt-right will have much ability to influence policy at this point. There is nationalism and then there is white nationalism. There is also black nationalism as espoused by Malcom X. He wanted blacks to be segregated. That is, to be kept separate from white people. Apparently, that was OK with the mainstream media and Hollywood, but if a white person says similar things in support of whites--say Richard Spencer--then he’s hounded and vilified.
Non-gay white males are currently the only group in America who are ‘unprotected.’ Especially old white males such as me—we are routinely targeted by the politically correct. One of the reasons Trump succeeded is because he’s unapologetically an alpha male and unafraid of political correctness.