Trump Responded To The Barcelona Attack With A Completely Made Up Story

It was probably pretty unlikely that Donald Trump was going to reply to the terrorist attack in Barcelona with anything reasonable, but it’s particularly risible that he chose to reply with one of his favourite fake news stories.

Trump volleyed off two tweets in response to the Barcelona attack – one fine, one bullshit.

What is that story about General Pershing? Well, it’s a favourite anecdote Trump likes to pull out when he’s discussing getting tough on Islamic terrorism. Here’s CNN describing Trump’s campaign trial invocation of the Pershing story:

Trump previously referred to this during a February 2016 rally. In the story Trump told at that time, Pershing’s forces captured 50 Muslim prisoners. Pershing then, Trump said, “took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem.”

The problem here is that there is no historical evidence this ever happened. Snopes has compiled a pretty exhaustive fact check of the story, and come to the conclusion that there’s just no support for the claim that this ever happened.

The absolute most that can be ascertained is that Pershing described in his book another commanding officer who buried Muslims “in the same grave as a dead pig.” Another source suggests that Pershing may have threatened to do the deed, but never actually did it.

Politifact also investigated the story back when Trump originally said it and rated it as “Pants on Fire”:

There is no evidence that Pershing himself committed these acts, there is nothing said about the use of 50 bullets dipped in pig’s blood, and most important, there is no evidence to support Trump’s claim that this tactic was effective in stopping violence — or that it would provide a useful policy today.

Also – and it’s stupid that this even has to be said – but there entire pig’s blood myth is fundamentally wrong. There is nothing in the Qu’ran or Islamic doctrine which suggests that contact with pig’s blood will send a believer to hell. Islam forbids its followers from consuming pork, but that’s about it.

Why is it worth debunking this? Well, it’s not just that Trump has told another lie – this is basically rote news at this point. It’s the fact that this lie essentially describes the national security efficacy of a strategy which involves the mass execution of Muslims. It’s not only stupid – it’s genocidal.