Donald Trump has made it clear that international law will not stand in his way when interrogating terrorists. He has threatened to bring back waterboarding and “worse.” But did he have to repeat a totally fabricated story circulating via email about General Pershing summarily executing Muslims rebels in the Philippines using bullets dipped in pig’s blood?
Donald Trump closed his South Carolina campaign on Friday with a rambling speech highlighted by a giddy, almost childlike, enthusiasm for torturing and summarily executing the suspected enemies of America in the name of safety.
Trump was in free-association mode ahead of Saturday’s primary, dwelling for an extended time on one topic, like heroin in New Hampshire or Japan’s monetary policy, and then jumping to another.
“I’m really good at the trade,” the billionaire told a crowd of thousands. “I’m really good at the borders.”
The standout topic, however, was terrorism and national security. Trump repeated – favorably – an apparent myth about how General John Pershing summarily executed dozens of Muslim prisoners in the Philippines with tainted ammunition during a guerilla war against the occupying United States.
“He took fifty bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood,” Trump said. “And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the fifty people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the fiftieth 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?”
The story appears to be a hoax spread via e-mail forwards, according to rumor tracker Snopes.com,with no evidence it occurred.
The moral of the tale, according to Trump: “We better start getting tough and we better start getting vigilant, and we better start using our heads or we’re not gonna have a country, folks.”
Trump was unimpressed with waterboarding, a banned interrogation tactic that he has pledged to bring back against suspected terrorists, and supplement with far worse forms of abuse.
“Is it torture or not? It’s so borderline,” he said. “It’s like minimal, minimal, minimal torture.”
So, only a “minimal, minimal, minimal” violation of international law. Trump is someone all Americans can embrace — at least those Americans who are admirers of barbarians, tyrants, and crazies. Should we be concerned that his monumental disrespect for international law carries over to a flippant attitude toward U.S. law?
Republicans appear willing to take that chance, but fortunately, I seriously doubt the American people as a whole will. There are still enough voters who find what Trump said yesterday, and much of what he’s said on the campaign trail, totally unacceptable and completely contrary to their image of what a president should be.
Trump is a disgrace to the values that make America what it is — or what it should be. He is the dark side of the American looking glass — Mr. Hyde writ large. Uncouth, uncivilized, a braggart and a bully, this is a man who might launch a nuclear war out of pique.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a trap door we can open to get rid of him.