One of the invited guests to a White House social media summit scheduled for Thursday is a cartoonist renowned for graphic attacks on political opponents that have included antisemitic tropes.
Ben Garrison — a Montana-based cartoonist behind “Grrrgraphics,” a popular right-wing website which strongly supports US President Donald Trump — caused a storm on social media over the weekend after he tweeted a picture of his invitation to the summit.
Jewish groups condemning the invitation included the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which declared on Twitter on Monday that Garrison “should be shunned by the White House, not honored with [an] invite to the American People’s House.”
Several of Garrison’s critics pointed to a cartoon he drew in 2017 that was denounced by the Anti-Defamation League as the “blatantly antisemitic” creation of “an artist known for cartoons with right-wing, anti-government and conspiratorial themes.”
Commissioned by the right-wing radio host Mike Cernovich as part of his campaign against Trump’s former national security adviser, Gen. H. R. McMaster, who was loathed by the president’s “alt-right” supporters, the cartoon depicted the US defense establishment as puppets dancing on strings controlled by Jewish financiers.
At the top of the pyramid was a long arm marked “Rothschilds” — the Jewish banking dynasty that has obsessed antisemitic propagandists for over a century. The reptilian features of the hand were a nod to the conspiracy theories of David Icke, a British antisemite with a taste for the occult who believes that several world leaders, among them Queen Elizabeth II, are in fact “shape-shifters” controlled by Jewish interests.
Beneath the Rothschilds was the familiar figure of George Soros — the Hungarian-Jewish financier routinely depicted by ultranationalists as the main engineer of “globalism” — who was in turn controlling two puppets, one of them McMaster and the other former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus.
However, the great majority of Garrison’s prolific output avoids antisemitic imagery. Many of the cartoons that attack individuals who happen to be Jewish — such as Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier now on trial on pedophilia and sex-trafficking charges — do not include any Jewish themes or antisemitic dog-whistles. Garrison’s favored targets are overwhelmingly Muslims, Latino immigrants, campus leftists and the Democratic Party.
Yet some of the cartoons featured in the “Globalism” section of Garrison’s website indicate a familiarity with the history of antisemitic propaganda and an occasional willingness to deploy it.
One cartoon depicted the three branches of the US government as controlled by the Council on Foreign Relations, the Federal Reserve and the “Bilderberg Illuminati” — an antisemitic fiction that a group of powerful Jewish bankers has “enslaved” the world.
Another cartoon about a potential war between the US and Iran showed a defiant-looking President Trump, portrayed as an American Eagle, turning away from three individuals pressing him to rain missiles on Tehran — the King of Saudi Arabia, National Security Adviser John Bolton (pejoratively marked with the word “Neocons”) and an individual marked with a Star of David to represent the State of Israel and its supporters in the US.
And at the height of the 2016 presidential election campaign, a caricature of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton harked back to the infamous “Judensau” — an antisemitic trope from medieval times, when Judaism was defamed as a Satanic female pig, with followers of the Jewish faith and piglets alike typically shown suckling from the sow’s teats.
Several churches in Europe feature statues or other depictions of the “Judensau,” with the German founder of Protestantism Martin Luther proudly writing in 1543 that “in our church in Wittenberg a sow is sculpted in stone. Young pigs and Jews lie suckling under her.”
In Garrison’s cartoon of Clinton — titled “Lipstick on a Pig” — the former candidate is shown as a sow lying in a pig-stye, wearing a self-satisfied expression as she feeds a group of piglets marked with inflammatory buzzwords like “lobbyists,” “crony capitalism,” and “fraud.”