Political insurrectionist and rogue cartoonist Ben Garrison talks with Crusade of Truth about the golden age of political cartoons, liberal tyranny, and holding Trump’s feet to the fire.
Crusade of Truth: You did not start creating political cartoons until 2009. This seems like a late start for someone who has enjoyed the success you (eventually through hard work) have earned. Did you create cartoons prior to this? What kind of art did you create that was sold in galleries?
Ben Garrison: It is a late start, but in actuality I drew my first cartoons in the early 1980s. When I worked for the San Angelo Standard Times and then the San Antonio Express News I penned some cartoons on the subject of state politics. I wanted to be a full time political cartoonist, but those jobs were rare then and even rarer today. I became an information graphics expert instead. My first love remains fine art. I studied painting under the late Dr. Otis Lumpkin at Angelo State University. I wanted to make a living at it, but that’s almost as difficult as making a living from cartooning. I paint in a cubo-futurist style and I have sold a great many works. This year however, I decided to concentrate more on cartooning because of the presidential election.
CoT: Your artistic abilities are matched by your persuasive writing. You’ve written a book, and it looks like your first love may have been writing. Is this true?
Garrison: I’ve written only one book titled “Rogue Cartoonist,” and it was a flop. Nobody wanted to read about someone complaining about getting trolled. I’m writing another book right now and it will be quite different. I’ve always liked writing, but I was better at art than putting words together. It remains a challenge for me to write clearly and effectively. Writing “Rogue Cartoonist” was very daunting and it increased my respect for ‘real’ writers. That said, I do type extremely fast and I tend to be verbose…so maybe some people mistake that for talent, ha ha.
CoT: In your profession, I imagine that you have to stay on top of the latest news. What news sources do you regularly follow (besides Crusade of Truth–wink wink).
Garrison: I go to Drudge for headlines. Then to sites such as Zero Hedge, and I listen to a lot of YouTube channels when I’m working. It’s great to have alternative media where the Truth can be found. I’ll still occasionally tune into CNN. so I can hear what the bad guys are lying about. The mainstream media have become a joke. They’re losing readers and viewers while they carry on with their ridiculous game. That is, pretending they’re still important and relevant.
CoT: I believe that your story is, in many ways, representative of the challenges facing American conservatism at present. The media ensures that moderate voices among republicans are made inaudible by fringe radicals. This is why the story remains that Trump is a hateful bigot, even though this very narrative cost democrats the election by alienating white voters. This is the great unlearned lesson of 2016. In your case, your moderate voice with an effective message against American liberalism was drowned out by the trolls that stole your message and attached hate to it. But rather than focus on the authentic, fact-based message that you portray, the media writes about you as a Nazi and hate-monger. Do you agree with this connection, or that your story closely mirrors that of Trump’s/conservatism in this regard?
Garrison: The left has jumped the shark with their political correctness, globalism, and social justice warrior nonsense. This is a good thing because the mainstream media snakes were beaten out of their holes and we saw them for whom they are–shills for the status quo, game as usual establishment. It’s a game that enriches the politicians, bankers and Wall Street–the 1 percent–while impoverishing the rest of us. The mainstream legacy media are controlled by a handful of corporations and instead of doing responsible journalism, their ‘reporting’ has now morphed into shrill emotional attacks on those who don’t want global government and collectivism. Therefore, they create endless straw men arguments to smear and demonize those who don’t go along with globalism.
I used to be terrified of being called ‘racist’ and a ‘hater.’ I tried to stop it by any means. Boy, was that a huge mistake. It did end up ruining my commercial art business as well as my fine art sales. I had to leave the art gallery I was in when the trolls attacked the owner. Liberals do their best ruin people with whom they disagree. They will concoct lies or get people fired. Free speech has taken quite a hit in this country because too many people are afraid of stating any kind of opinion that might be deemed offensive. Even a harmless joke told over the water cooler can get one fired. It’s made worse now because speech is monitored, recorded and stored for later use against a target.
Too many liberals place feelings ahead of facts, reason and evidence. I’ve had friends for decades–known them since college and have worked with others for many years. They pride themselves on being liberal. Many un-friended me due to my ‘offensive’ cartoons. I have to admit I also unfriended a few who posted that they’d like to see Trump die soon after taking office. So yes, there is a marked divide in the country right now and that division is made worse by evil troublemakers such as George Soros.
The media are trying to paint all conservatives as ‘alt right,’ which they say consists of white supremacists, Nazis and the KKK. Sure, these outfits exist and supported Trump, but they are tiny in number. The liberal media would have us believe ALL Trump supporters are white supremacists. That’s nonsense. Liberals are always the first to drag Hitler into it, even though he ran a form of socialism himself. Collectivism always brings about tyranny and tyrants such as Hitler, Stalin and Mao. They always end up causing the deaths of millions of people. Conservative Libertarians like me want smaller government, the end of foreign wars and entanglements (the end of empire building), honest money, our privacy and the freedom to choose what we eat drink or smoke. We want liberty, not collectivism.
CoT: Trump espouses many values that should align with libertarians. He has said that for every regulation that is created, the government must dismantle two others. He wants to get rid of a variety of global trade deals, and he has threatened to strategically withdraw from some military pacts if US allies do not contribute more. Do you have other examples of libertarianism from Trump? Is this just rhetoric from Trump, or do you think he will follow through (as it already seems he is not doing with many other campaign promises).
Garrison: Some of the more ‘purist’ Libertarians love free trade and open borders. I guess that makes me more of a nationalist, but I see that as a good thing. I see Trump as both a populist and a nationalist who also has a few Libertarian leanings. There are some things that prove that he’s definitely NOT a Libertarian. The stop and frisk nonsense is against the 4th Amendment. He supports the NSA and wants to prosecute Snowden. Say it ain’t so, Trump. He also espouses torture (Nooooo!) and as far as I know he’s not going to end the ridiculous War on Drugs. I’m more of a conservative Libertarian who leaned more toward Rand Paul in the beginning of the campaign. Mostly, though, I hate political correctness and he has made a clean break from that. I also hate Hillary and the corruption that has worsened under the Bush and Clinton crime families. We do need to end the wide open borders that Hillary and Obama loved, because illegal immigrants tend to vote for bigger government and free stuff. They will gladly vote to take away our guns.
I earnestly hope it wasn’t all empty bombast and rhetoric on Trump’s part, used simply to get elected. He’s a savvy man and must have picked up on the pulse of many who want to end the corruption. That’s why he came up with his ‘drain the swamp’ meme. Only now I’m not so sure he will drain it. He’s already backing off from prosecuting Hillary and that’s imperative. He’s been talking to Romney. Why? He called Obama a ‘good man.’ No, he’s not! He expressed sympathy for Hillary. Why? This is ominous to me and if he continues to back away from his promises I will certainly hold his feet to the fire in my cartoons. He also stated that he was interested in auditing the Federal Reserve. I, like Ron Paul, believe this to be imperative. We must get away from our immoral debt-slave money system that enables bankers and lobbyists to make sure their wars for profit are continued. The Federal Reserve is the heart of darkness. We must end it. Auditing it is the first step.
CoT: The symbolism required of a cartoonist is rather poetic and requires very deep consideration. Can you briefly describe your creative process?
Garrison: Actually, deep concentration (at least for me) makes creativity very difficult. It’s better to be thinking of other things and be in a distracted state of mind and then let the ideas walk in on their own out of the blue. When it comes to both fine art and cartooning, concentration for me usually produces nothing but frustration. The best ideas come from ‘vertical thinking’ as I call it. It’s often a bolt out of the blue while going for a walk or just sitting out back with a good cigar. Trying to force an idea can be maddening because it means the editor left brain is taking over with his whip–trying to force the creative right brain to do his job. The right brain resents that mightily and will go on strike. It’s best to let the right brain do his thing on his own schedule. He just wants to have fun and make unusual connections with the universe. What amazes me are all the ideas that are emailed to me from people who have seen my cartoons. Some of their ideas are excellent–or they will help spark my own ideas or variations. I had no idea there were so many out there who come up with ideas for cartoons and are looking for people to draw them. I printed up at least three dozen good ones for the election that have, unfortunately, now expired.
CoT: Are you right or left handed?
Garrison: Right handed. There are quite a few lefties in the arts, but it sure isn’t a prerequisite for creativity.
CoT: How is being an editorial cartoonist different for conservatives than it is for social justice-seeking liberal cartoonists? Do you think that the majority of cartoonists identify as liberal?
Garrison: The majority of editorial cartoonists DO identify as being liberal. They are the ones who are employed by major newspapers and there are only around 30 or so of them left. This is what’s left from well over 1,000 paid cartoonists during the golden age of newspapers about a century ago. Editorial cartooning has been in a long decline, but as long as we have a free Internet there are endless possibilities for a rebound.
Today’s editorial cartoonists at newspapers get paid an average salary of just over $90K per year. Having worked at several newspapers, I know what the atmosphere is like. They are liberal echo chambers and anyone who has a conservative bent must remain quiescent about it. To escape harassment, one must go along to get along, and I did just that. In the eyes of liberals, their conservative counterparts are ‘haters’ and ‘stupid.’ The latter word is used the most frequently. Watch any Bill Maher show and he’ll tell you that most Americans are stupid, superstitious rednecks who incapable of rational thought. The hate mail I receive usually is some variant of me being stupid and/or hateful. (Usually ending with a recommendation that I kill myself). These are not nice, tolerant people. They will gladly mete out a verbal burning at the stake to those who don’t go along with their vision of a collectivist utopia, which ends up as Hell on Earth when implemented.
It’s always the same–the liberal cartoonists cry for more rules. More regulations. More taxes. More government–with the ultimate goal being world government. Liberals want everyone to be equal and that leads toward tyranny, whereas conservatives prefer self-reliance, individualism and freedom.
Liberal cartoonists also claim conservative ones cannot be funny. Being funny is very important to them, but they miss the point of editorial cartooning entirely when they say that. Cartoons need not be funny to be effective. Satire doesn’t necessarily mean mere laughter. Often the liberal cartoonists aren’t satirists at all. They’re mere comedians. They either crank out cheap gags designed for a safe, inoffensive chuckle, or they’ll dash out cartoons in which they call conservatives ‘stupid’ using various logical fallacies–most often the ‘straw man’ fallacy. The cartoonists also have been hurt by politically correct thinking. For example, I got complaints that drawing Hillary as a ‘witch’ was ‘sexist’ and degrading. Out of bounds. Many cartoonists have been channeled and conditioned to avoid such things at all costs and they go along because they want to win a Pulitzer Prize and get validated by the system. They know it’s mostly liberal, statist, politically correct cartoonists who win the big awards. I will never win any awards and I can’t be fired–which also frees me up to be politically incorrect. That’s freedom!
CoT: How can people get updates when you release a new cartoon?
Garrison: All cartoons are first released to my Patreon supporters. They always get to see them first. Then they are tweeted out and put on our site, www.grrrgraphics.com as well as Facebook and elsewhere.
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