Trump tweets fake news on PH, Moros
WASHINGTON—It was the same fake news that US President Donald Trump had ranted against in his often turbulent relationship with US media.
But this time, the fake news was at least 100 years old and the source of its resurrection was the 72-year-old billionaire.
Trump on Thursday may have endorsed mass executions for terrorists, alluding to a widely debunked account of summary killings by an American general in the Philippines in the early 1900s.
It was another provocative tweet from an increasingly isolated leader who uses Twitter to take shots at perceived opponents and even announce big policy changes.
Thursday’s tweet also suggested that Trump actually believed a story that many historians said was apocryphal or spurious.
Trump first sent out a tweet offering aid to Spain after Thursday’s van attack in Barcelona that left at least 13 dead and up to 100 wounded.
Around an hour later, Trump tweeted: “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”
He was referring to Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing who was the US governor of Mindanao, which had been a largely Muslim Moro province in the Philippines from 1909 to 1913.
At the time, the Philippines was a US colony. And Pershing’s forces had to fight Muslim counterinsurgencies.
The debunked account which Trump had referred to in the past is as follows—Pershing’s forces rounded up 50 Muslim insurgents and executed 49 of them with bullets dipped in pig’s blood considered by Muslims to be haram or unholy.
“You heard that, right?” Trump said as a candidate at a rally in February 2016 in South Carolina, alluding to the pig blood part.
It did not happen
“They were having terrorism problems, just like we do,” Trump had said.
As the story goes, the 50th prisoner was released to tell his fellow fighters about what the Americans had done.
“And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. OK? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem,” Trump said during his campaign.
Historians had expressed skepticism or outright denial that this event took place.
According to the fact-checking website Politifact, the late military historian Frank Vandiver said in 2003, referring to Pershing: “I never found any indication that it was true in extensive research on his Moro experiences. This kind of thing would have run completely against his character.”
Politifact quoted four historians who denied the account.
Torture didn’t work
Trump had endorsed water boarding widely held now to be a torture technique, used during the George W. Bush administration in its war on terror and halted by Barack Obama, Trump’s immediate predecessor.
Once in office, however, after US generals advised him against reverting to water boarding, with some saying torture simply did not work as a way to extract information, Trump said he would yield to them.
And he stopped making public endorsements of the technique. Until he remembered the story about General Pershing.
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