Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East policy by telling a tale about General John Pershing killing Muslim terrorists in the Philippines with pork-laden bullets, which "solved the problem." Not only is the story unsubstantiated, but using pork products against Muslim terrorists doesn't work.
Jeremy Diamond with CNN reported about a recent campaign rally where Trump claimed the pork bullets were used against Filipino Muslim terrorists with great success.
Trump reiterated his claim that the U.S. should "go much further" than waterboarding suspected terrorists, telling the story of Gen. John Pershing in the Philippines, who Trump said captured 50 Muslim prisoners a century ago and dipped 50 bullets in blood. "And he lined up the 50 people and they shot 49 of those 50 people, and he said to the 50th, you go back to your people and you tell them what happened -- and in 25 years there wasn't a problem," Trump said to the audience, which grew quiet as he told the story.
I've seen this story told before on email chains. So did Snopes.com, which looked into this one during one of the many September 11 anniversaries when this tale makes the internet rounds.
No Evidence Of Pershing Doing This
This fact-checking site was unable to corroborate that Pershing did anything like this. Their researchers did find a 1939 Gary Cooper film where an American doctor serving in the Philippines orders that Muslim attackers will be buried in pig skins.
Of course, it's good to fact-check the fact-checkers. So I read a 1998 biography about Gen. Pershing that wasn't on Snopes.com list, focusing on the chapter concerning his service in the Philippines. It's called Until the Last Trumpet Sounds; The Life of General of the Armies John J. Pershing, by Gene Smith. You'll find he's a pretty classy guy, a person who respected the Moros and their culture, taking on fighting missions with the greatest reluctance for loss of life, preferring peaceful negotiations where possible, not the bloodthirsty character Trump makes him out to be. If Trump knew our military heroes better, like Ike, Patton, Bradley, etc. he'd know that our best lead with respect, not with war crimes like William T. Sherman.
Snopes.com Isn't Biased Either
People I know (liberals and conservatives) have been sending me all kinds of anti-Trump stuff. They claim in a People Magazine 1998 interview that Trump said he'd run as a Republican because their voters are too stupid to think for themselves. Snopes.com busted that one. Trump didn't bash Jesus either (another Snopes.com discovery). Snopes.com also found that Trump didn't call for a boycott of Apple on his iPhone, though he continues to use one after calling for a boycott of Apple products.
Using Pig Skins Against Muslim Terrorists Doesn't Work
Israelis have been trying to use pork-based products around dead Islamic terrorists for years, with no success. That's because terror groups like Hamas have told their followers it doesn't matter what happens to the body after a martyr blows himself or herself up, just like 9/11 hijackers from al-Qaeda broke every Muslim practice in the book, before and during the attacks.
The belief that pork is some sort of kryptonite for Islamic terrorism isn't supported by the evidence. Those terrified of terrorism may wish it so, and yearn for a government that would just use pigs as an anti-terror weapon and save us. But anyone who studies terrorism knows it takes a more robust policy to combat the problem than throwing a slice of bacon at the enemy.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.