Far-right cartoonist gets Don Quixote wrong — and accidentally gets Donald Trump right

Former President Donald Trump’s announcement of his frivolous lawsuit against social media companies for suspending him after the January 6 insurrection is getting a boost from a far-right cartoonist — whose new political cartoon shows Trump as Don Quixote charging at a windmill representing the social media platforms he is suing.

Trump Quixote Ben Garrison

Citation Ben Garrison

The problem, of course, is that Don Quixote is a delusional literary character who thought he was a great knight, and he charged at the windmills believing them to be giants. As the story goes, he then broke his lance and got flung off his horse. From this 17th-century novel comes the phrase “tilting at windmills,” meaning to fight against imaginary enemies.

Garrison, whose work contains white nationalist and antisemitic imagery, references the QAnon, Pizzagate, and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. He was previously invited and then disinvited to a White House event in 2019 on supposed social media censorship of conservatives. (Even after the cancellation of Garrison’s White House visit, Trump continued to boost Garrison’s material on Twitter.)

It also appears this recent cartoon is not even the first time Garrison has misused Don Quixote:

As for the lawsuit itself, it claims that social media companies violated the First Amendment rights of Trump and other users they suspended — and might also simply be a fundraising stunt. But these are private companies and as such are not bound by the First Amendment as they are not inherently obligated to provide someone with the use of their platforms.

The current backlash against the Big Tech companies is also ironic because these platforms spent years ignoring Trump’s lies and extreme rhetoric. Twitter’s action against Trump in January came far too late, and Facebook hasn’t even banned him permanently — only instituting a provisional suspension for two years. Facebook also continues to pull in ad revenue from promotions of his post-presidency rallies at which he is still spreading lies about the election as well as making inflammatory comments against Capitol Police officers for their response to January 6.

The social media companies are not Trump’s adversaries. They are accomplices who parted ways with him only when their partnership was truly no longer tenable.