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Trump uses Barcelona attacks for incitement to mass murder of Muslims

on 11 Comments

President Trump used yesterday’s chain of car-ramming attacks in Spain for promoting fake news, alternative facts, and even for approving mass murder of Muslims on his notorious Twitter feed. His surety of “terror” in this case and his bloody incitement against the ‘one side’ (Muslims), stand in stark opposition to his ambiguous response on the Charlottesville terror of last weekend and its “many sides”.

Trump had no doubt who was responsible for terror in Barcelona; he named them yesterday in a tweet:

“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”

Now let’s summarize the latest facts known about Barcelona.

CNN, reporting today (9:30 AM Denmark time, several hours after Trump’s response), writes that the first major ramming attack which occurred at 5 PM yesterday Spanish local time (and killed 13) was described by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as “jihadi terrorism” during a news conference late Thursday. But CNN also reports that the perpetrators’ motive is still unclear. CNN did report that “ISIS’ media wing, Amaq, issued a statement that said the attackers are ‘soldiers of the Islamic State,’ although ISIS has not explicitly claimed responsibility for the attack. The terror group has not mentioned any names nor did it post any photos or additional details about the perpetrators.”

A bit ambiguous, I would say with all fairness. Indeed, CNN states after the latter: “It’s not clear”.

But for Trump this was all crystal clear.

Now let’s remember, that as late as Tuesday, Trump was being asked by a reporter about Charlottesville: “Was this terrorism?” At that time, the name and alleged ideology of the Charlottesville driver, James Alex Fields Jr., were known.

Trump’s response:

“Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family and this country, and that is — you can call it terrorism, you can call it murder, you can call it whatever you want.”

He even added:

“Before I make a statement, I need the facts, I don’t want to rush into a statement.”

Now let’s compare to Trump on Barcelona: First he condemned the “terror” (here he was unambiguous):

“The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!”, he tweeted at 8 PM.

But merely 45 minutes later, Trump tweeted again, this time promoting a widely discredited myth:

“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”, he wrote.

Here Trump is referring to a myth about General John J. Pershing who fought in the Philippine-American war of 1899-1902. Trump explained the myth in detail during his election campaign in February 2016:

“They were having terrorism problems, just like we do,” Trump said. “And he 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. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem.”

The myth was rated “pants on fire” on

The assumption of the myth is that pig’s blood would be considered defilement for Muslims, and therefore a deterrent, in that it would ‘send them straight to hell’. Let’s put aside for now the fact that “there is no penalty for coming into contact with pork given by the Quran,” as Shannon Dunn, an assistant professor of religious studies at Gonzaga University said, as well as “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,” as Politifact said in its story debunking the claim.

Let’s put all of the nonsense aside, and relate to what Trump means, because this is the real issue here:

This is Trump’s advocacy on the backdrop of Barcelona. He’s certain it’s terror, he’s certain it’s radical Islamic terror, and he knows exactly what to do about it: Line up Muslims in a row and murder them, to set an example.

Trump, the “fact checker”, is not worried at all now, that he hasn’t got all the facts clear, or that he is, once again, disseminating not only a false and discredited myth, but one that incites to racial violence against the cynical backdrop of a series of attacks, the actual motivations of which are still somewhat unclear.

Whether the Islamic terror lead becomes confirmed as true or not, is not the question here. Trump’s response is a story in itself. He is telling us his own story, based on what he wants to see. But when the events don’t seem to fall in line with his white-nationalist and anti-Muslim agenda, they are simply relegated and diluted to “many sides”. When events do seem to hint at possibly falling into his agenda, into his story, he can’t wait to use them towards incitement for massacring Muslims, as collective punishment, just to serve as an example.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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11 Responses

  1. Emory Riddle on August 18, 2017, 2:09 pm

    Media to call Trump presidential after smearing all of Islam?

  2. JoeSmack on August 18, 2017, 6:45 pm

    Is that the Palestinian flag behind him? What’s that about?

    • Susan A on August 20, 2017, 11:32 am

      The caption says he called the Manchester attackers (it turned out to be one) “…losers.” It was probably when he was seeing Mahmoud Abbas, so that, if so, would explain it.

  3. judithbell on August 18, 2017, 10:30 pm


  4. Elizabeth Block on August 19, 2017, 8:31 pm

    There’s also the fact, unmentioned so far, that in 1898 the United States, having taken the Philipines out of the Spanish empire, proceeded to add it to the American empire. Pershing was fighting Filipinos who wanted independence from any and all imperial overlords.

    • just on August 20, 2017, 10:58 am

      Yes. Many have debunked Trump’s filthy Islamophobic lie wrt Pershing and the Moros.

      “One Record Of General Pershing’s Quite Cordial Relationship With Filipino Muslims

      On Thursday, @realdonaldtrump once again tweeted about a historical fable he’s recounted before: the story of how General John Pershing dealt with Muslim rebels in the Philippines in the early twentieth century. Yet as the document below shows, the general’s approach was a far cry from the merciless style Trump has implored his followers to “study.”

      Pershing was best known for leading the U.S. forces on the Western Front in World War I. Before his stint in Europe, the general served for years in the Philippines, which the United States had recently colonized. It took more than a decade of bloody fighting before the U.S. government considered the Philippines fully pacified. The fighting lasted longest in the southern third of the country, in the largely Muslim area known as Moroland where Pershing was stationed.

      In Trump’s telling, Pershing fought Filipino Muslims with little remorse. At a campaign rally last year, Trump told, with evident relish, of how Pershing captured fifty “terrorists,” dipped fifty bullets in pig’s blood, lined up his captives, and then shot forty-nine of them, letting the last one go to spread the news. “And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem, okay?” Trump concluded.

      Not okay. As Snopes and Politifact have noted, the basis for believing that anything like this happened is extremely thin. We have evidence suggesting that some militants were buried with pigs, but not that Pershing was involved.

      It’s hard to imagine he would have been. Though he did not shirk from battle, Pershing proved remarkably sympathetic toward Filipino Muslims, called “Moros,” as a whole. He made diplomatic visits to them, making a point of going unarmed. He ate their food, learned their customs, and counted some as “strong personal friends.” He studied their language to the point where, he boasted, he could take low-level meetings without an interpreter. In return, Pershing was elected a datu, a position of respect and leadership in Moro society. He was the only U.S. official to be so honored.

      Pershing’s papers at the Library of Congress contain this transcript of an extraordinary meeting that Pershing, by then the governor of Moro Province, held with Muslim leaders of the region. For Pershing, it was a visit with “old friends.” In the transcript, one such “friend,” Datu Noscalem, recalls having received a gift from Pershing: a copy of the Quran. Pershing, in reply, speaks to the virtues of Islam: “The Moros should live according to the teachings of the Koran, because I think that the Koran is the best book that they can follow,” he says.

      Nor does he stop there. Pershing proposes that the Moros should build mosques (“churches” as he calls them here), promising land and offering “to help them in other ways.” Believing them to be the “strongest race” in the Philippines, he suggests that it is “their duty to have more children.”

      The point, concludes Pershing, is that “this is not the country of the Americans, but is the country of you Moros, and we are not going to bring here Americans to push you out.”

      It’s an admirable sentiment, brimming with tolerance for a foreign culture. Perhaps the president could learn from that. …”

    • Jonathan Ofir on August 20, 2017, 11:00 am

      Absolutely Elizabeth Block, this has come up from several people I’ve heard from now, and it is indeed with some regret that I note this missing bit in the appraisal (although it would not be appropriate to add this to the article at this point. That whole point sheds another light on the whole notion of “terrorists” in Trump’s false story. Not that it would have been impossible that some Muslims there could theoretically be involved in terror (against civilians) – but the generalist notion of “terrorists” would be weakened. As well, according to the story, they were apparently extrajudicially executed, so even in the paradigm of the story we are barred from knowing their actual actions.
      The whole notion of the story is one of collective punishment (a lethal one), to create ‘deterrence’ and ‘send a message’ to the rest.

  5. just on August 20, 2017, 10:52 am

    Thanks very much for this article, Jonathan.

    I just read this from Jeff Halper @ Haaretz:

    “Europe Must Not Buy What Israel Is Selling to Combat Terror

    Israel has managed to turn 50 years of Palestinian resistance to occupation into a cottage industry, and is now selling the concept of a police state to the world

    Whenever a terrorist attack happens such as the one last week in Barcelona, Israel politicians and security “experts” get on TV to criticize European naïvité. If only they understood terrorism as we do and took the preventive measures we do, they say, they would suffer far less attacks. Most infamous in this regard were the remarks of Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz after the Brussels bombing in March 2016, in which 34 people died.

    Rather than convey his condolences in the name of the Israeli government, he scolded the Belgians in the most patronizing way possible. “If in Belgium they continue to eat chocolate, enjoy life and parade as great liberals and democrats while not taking account of the fact that some of the Muslims who are there are organizing acts of terror,” he pronounced, “they will not be able to fight against them.”

    The Belgians reacted angrily, and asserted the position of most European governments: While we will continue to be vigilant and take the necessary precautions, we are not going to forsake our freedoms and political openness to become copies of Israel. For they understand that Netanyahu’s government is peddling something far more insidious than mere precautions – even more than the weapons, surveillance and security systems and models of population control that is the bread-and-butter of Israeli exports. What Israel is urging onto the Europeans – and Americans, Canadians, Indians, Mexicans, Australians and anyone else who will listen – is nothing less than an entirely new concept of a state, the Security State. 

    What is a Security State? Essentially, it is a state that places security above all else, certainly above democracy, due process of law and human rights, all of which it considers “liberal luxuries” in a world awash in terrorism. Israel presents itself, no less, than the model for countries of the future. You Europeans and others should not be criticizing us, say Katz and Netanyahu, you should be imitating us. For look at what we have done. We have created a vibrant democracy from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River that provides its citizens with a flourishing economy and personal security – even though half the population of that country are terrorists (i.e., non-citizen Palestinians living in isolated enclaves of the country). If we can achieve that, imagine what we can offer those of you threatened by terrorist attacks?

    In a brilliant shift in imaging, Israel has managed to turn 50 years of Palestinian resistance to occupation into a cottage industry. By labeling it “terrorism,” it has not only delegitimized the Palestinian struggle but has transformed the occupied territories in a laboratory of counterinsurgency and population control, the cutting edges of both foreign wars and domestic repression. It has transformed tactics of control and their accompanying weapons of surveillance systems into marketable products. No wonder, as Netanyahu constantly reminds us, “the world” loves Israel. From China to Saudi Arabia, from India to Mexico, from Eritrea to Kazakhstan, Israel supplies the means by which repressive regimes control their restless peoples. 

    Israel’s vast military reach is well-documented. It extends to more than 130 countries and brought in $6.5 billion in sales in 2016. Less known but more corrosive to civil rights are Israel’s security exports. Three examples: …

    In its ultimate form the Security State peddled by Netanyahu and Katz is merely a form of police state whose populace is easily manipulated by an obsession with security. Israel’s model is especially invidious because it works; witness the pacification of the Palestinians. That seems like a potent selling point indeed. The problem is that that it turns a country’s own people into Palestinians without rights. It would seem that the Security State can be reconciled with democracy – after all, Israel markets itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East.” But only the world’s privileged few will enjoy the democratic protections of the Security State, as do Israeli Jews. The masses, those who resist repression and exclusion from the capitalist system, those who struggle for genuine democracy, are doomed to be global Palestinians. The Israelization of governments, militaries and security forces means the Palestinianization of most of the rest of us. …”

    read more:

    It’s worth the entire read.

  6. Jackdaw on August 21, 2017, 12:52 am

    “And he caught 50 terrorists … ”

    Obviously President Trump is advocating for executing terrorists, and not murdering Muslims.

    • Jonathan Ofir on August 22, 2017, 12:48 am

      Jackdaw, if you look at Just’s above quoting of Halper, it’s very relevant:
      “We have created a vibrant democracy from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River that provides its citizens with a flourishing economy and personal security – even though half the population of that country are terrorists (i.e., non-citizen Palestinians living in isolated enclaves of the country). If we can achieve that, imagine what we can offer those of you threatened by terrorist attacks?”

      Trump’s story is fantasy anyway, but we need to see what he means by “terrorists”. Against the actual background of the Philippine-American war, there was an American invasion and occupation (taken on just after the Spaniards). In modern standards, resistance of this could not automatically be regarded ‘terror’.

      Anyhow we wouldn’t know, because in the story they are extrajudicially executed…that is murder per definition.

      Under the Muslim ban, Trump was ostensibly averting “terror”, but it made no sense as attacks against US were not coming from the banned countries. It was widely recognized that the ban was about them being Muslims, really.

      And that’s where it becomes logical to paraphrase Trump’s meaning through his fantasies.

  7. Jackdaw on August 23, 2017, 5:36 am


    “Jackdaw, if you look at Just’s above quoting of Halper, it’s very relevant: ”

    Stay in your ‘echo chamber’, Jonathan. It’s safe inside.

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