Media debunks Trump’s General Pershing “pig’s blood” lie in the service of an even bigger lie about the U.S. and its bloodthirsty history of imperialist plunder

August 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Thursday, August 17 in Barcelona, Spain, a van plowed along a sidewalk in a commercial district killing 13 people and injuring over 80, a horrific attack, allegedly carried out by fundamentalist Islamic jihadists. 

Trump’s advice to the Spanish government?  Carry out war crimes. Trump repeated a mythical war story about General Pershing, a U.S. general who led in the 1898 invasion and occupation of the Philippines in the wake of the U.S. victory in the Spanish-American War.  According to the story, as Trump tells it, General Pershing brought about the defeat of Muslim “terrorists” by lining up 50 captured Muslim fighters and using bullets dipped in pig’s blood to murder 49 of them—then sending the remaining fighter back to his people to tell them what happened.  Islam has strict prohibitions about killing and eating pigs and this, according to Trump, was supposed to have struck terror into the population and brought about 25 years of peace. 

Mouthpieces of the liberal media on CNN and MSNBC jumped all over themselves to refute this absurd and brutal myth (for which there is in fact no historical record) and restore the tarnished image of our great “hero” General Pershing who could never have carried out such a heinous act.

But let’s look at the real history of who was General Pershing, what were he and the U.S. doing in the Philippines, and who were these so-called “Muslim terrorists?”

In 1898 after waging war with Spain in the Pacific and the Caribbean, the U.S. seized control of Spain’s colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.  U.S. troops invaded and occupied the Philippines, which was in the midst of waging a war for its independence from Spain. 

Pershing, who had begun his military career in the U.S. fighting in the so-called “Indian campaigns,” which carried out the genocidal expulsion from their lands of the Apaches and Lakota Sioux, commanded the U.S. forces in their occupation of the Philippines.  The Philippine resistance forces, initially believing that the expulsion of Spain would lead to independence, soon found out that the treaty signed between the U.S. and Spain had put the Philippines under the direct control of the U.S. and its military. 

In 1899 the Filipino people launched a war of resistance against their new colonial masters.  After three years of brutal war and 220,000 deaths, overwhelmingly civilians, the liberation forces in the predominantly northern Catholic islands of the Philippines were crushed.  

Having subjugated the northern islands, the U.S. then broke the initial treaty they had made with the Muslim tribes (called Moros by the Spanish) who lived in the southern islands of the Philippines.  The people of these islands rose up in a second war of just resistance against the U.S. occupation of the Philippines.  These are the “Muslim terrorists” that Trump describes in his story. 

Throughout both of these wars, the U.S. systematically carried out brutal tactics designed to terrorize population—search-and-destroy missions, waterboarding of captives and the herding of civilians into concentration camps. While there is no evidence that U.S. soldiers shot Muslim fighters with bullets dipped in pig’s blood, there were accounts that U.S. soldiers attempted to instill anti-Muslim terror in the population by burying Muslim dead in graves together with pig carcasses.  One massacre that took place in 1906 was later described by one of the U.S. veterans of the battle.  He said that the Americans “turned that machine gun on them and they’d stand there, the Moros would, and just look like dominos falling.” 

In 1909 Pershing took over as military governor of the southern islands with the resistance war still raging.  While imposing economic and legal reforms favorable to U.S. businesses which had begun extracting resources from the islands, he continued to wield violence against the Filipino people, justifying this in his memoirs: “During the slow process of evolution leading up to civilization, the Moros must be kept in check by the actual application of force or the moral effect of its presence.”  The resistance of the Moros was finally crushed in 1913 in a campaign led personally by Pershing which resulted in the massacre of hundreds of men, women and children. 

The Philippines was an outright colony of the U.S., until U.S. forces were driven out by the Japanese imperialists at the start of World War 2. While it became formally independent after the war, the U.S. returned as the neo-colonial master, and remains to this day the overwhelmingly dominant political, economic and military power there. 

This is the brutal legacy of the “heroic” General Pershing that Trump wants to flaunt to terrorize people in the world today, while the liberal media seeks to whitewash and lie to people about the whole history of U.S. plunder and war crimes which are the foundation on which the U.S. empire has been built. 

[Some of the information in this article is drawn from the article “What Was General Pershing Really Doing in the Philippines” by Jonathan M. Katz that appeared in The Atlantic.]


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