It’s not often that I get asked to write basically the same article again, but it’s also not often that a white supremacist in Office decides to repeat the same, already-debunked lie over and over again. I am, of course, referring to the latest blatant falsehood spread by Donald Trump.
In response to the horrific terrorist attacks in Barcelona this week, Trump was quick to jump to his favorite modus operandi — excuse the Latin, I just don’t know how else to make “Twitter” sound more presidential — and quickly condemn the violence.
His tweet was preluded by a speech he gave on the campaign trail in February 2016, where he insisted that Pershing “caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He 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.”
Since Trump is so adamant that we study what General Pershing did, here’s a quick history lesson, in case you missed it the first few times around: he learned that escalating counter-terrorism techniques doesn’t work, according to expert Brian M. Linn, a history professor at Texas A&M University who spoke to The Washington Post.
In fact, Linn and numerous other professors and historical experts describe how Pershing actually studied the Qur’an, and tried a “hearts and minds” strategy to win over their combatants in the Philippines. The assertion that Pershing supposedly ordered the execution 49 Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pig’s blood and told a 50th to run back to his people and issue a warning is absurd. Pershing would’ve been undermining his own tactics by committing such an act, not to mention that pig’s blood isn’t some secret potion that magically makes Muslims melt like water and the Wicked Witch of the West.
As far as legacies go, General Pershing’s is not one that should be celebrated. The war crimes that were committed are something which I can’t imagine the military, even for all its issues, could actually think to commemorate. Instead, the U.S. should be held accountable for how badly it broke the Philippines and the kinds of atrocities it committed.
Trump lied. And then repeated the lie — on numerous occasions. That’s not news, and frankly debunking all of his lies probably isn’t going to convince his most die-hard supporters, who would probably believe him if he said the sky is green and grass is blue. The same base that appears to have no issue with the fact that Trump was more vocal about condemning “Muslim”-related violence in Barcelona than white supremacist terrorism here at home. So why bother?
Because sometimes even though it seems futile, continuing to resist and try to hold our leaders accountable is all we can do. Especially when Trump continues to warmonger and dog-whistle violence as he peddles falsehoods, we must continue to counter his lies and shed light on the truth.
Allah is testing all of us — Muslim and non-Muslim — with this administration, so we must continue to call out the lies, march in the streets and use our voices, our donations and our votes to fight injustice, no matter how big of a platform it is given at the national and international stage. Dodging all of the horrors that Trump and his team are throwing at us in the forms of ugly rhetoric and even uglier policies is our jihad.
And as with all tests, we will prevail.