Last week, political cartoonist Ben Garrison announced that he’d been invited to attend the White House Social Media Summit – an event which many hoped would lead to constructive discussions around online censorship. Garrison was one of the few people with an invite who has actually been banned from a social media platform for questionable reasons so his presence could have added some valuable real-world perspective to discussions of online censorship.

However, shortly after the invite was issued, Garrison was the subject of media attention which characterized one of his cartoons as anti-Semitic. This appears to have had an impact with the White House announcing earlier today that Garrison’s invite had been revoked.

Now Garrison has responded to being uninvited from the White House Social Media Summit and pushed back against the claims that his cartoon is anti-Semitic.

He posted his full statement to Twitter which reads:

“Yesterday I had a discussion with the White House and we came to the conclusion that my presence at the Social Media Summit would be a media distraction from the President’s message. They were nice about it, but naturally, I’m disappointed.

Because I mentioned Soros and the Rothschilds in a cartoon, the perception from the ADL and those on the left is that I’m a ‘blatantly’ anti-Semitic cartoonist and they were all dancing a tantrum because Trump invited me. As a result, the White House invite was rescinded. I was asked to remain silent about the whole thing. I said I would remain silent and I did remain silent. But then overnight they released a statement saying Ben Garrison will no longer be attending. The news was on CNN World News and elsewhere. We are disappointed the White House released this news—I thought we would both be ignoring the entire thing.

It is obvious to anyone with common sense I am not anti-Semitic. I have received many emails of support from my Jewish friends. I’m not anti-Semitic merely because the ADL says I am. They are not the final word on such things. In fact, they continue to commit libel against me by having an altered cartoon on their site. It features a cartoon with the face of an offensive Jewish stereotype pasted over my cartoon. My signature remains on that cartoon and they are holding it up as an example of my anti-Semitism.

The Fake News Media is only attacking me to attack the President. I will not let this stand.

I will continue to draw cartoons that speak out against those who must be held accountable. I will continue to critique their actions and deeds.

I will continue to support our President.

—Ben Garrison”

The cartoon portraying investor George Soros and the Rothschild family, that Garrison refers to in his statement, was featured in an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) piece in 2017. This piece labeled his cartoon “blatantly anti-Semitic,” seemingly because it criticized Soros and the Rothschild family.

However, Garrison points out in his statement, the ADL saying a cartoon is anti-Semitic doesn’t make it true.

Many others have also come to Garrison’s defense:

Nevertheless, CNN anchor Jake Tapper replied to Garrison’s tweet about being invited to the White House Social Media Summit by linking to the ADL article and using the same “blatantly anti-Semitic” line.

After Tapper sent this tweet, numerous legacy media outlets started to publish pieces claiming that President Trump had invited a “creator of anti-Semitic cartoons” to the White House Social Media Summit.

According to Garrison, these media pieces were the cause of his invite being rescinded.

Unlike most of the current attendees, Garrison has been censored by a social media platform and lost his Instagram account earlier this year when the site accused him of promoting “hate speech or symbols” without providing an example of how he supposedly did this.

Now that Garrison is no longer attending, many people are concerned that the White House Social Media Summit will do little to address the issue of social media censorship because none of the current attendees have been deplatformed by one of the tech giants.


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