Another day, another Donald Trump tweet. This one came Thursday, August 17, a few hours after a van plowed into a crowd on the Barcelona pedestrian mall of Las Ramblas, Spain.
The Islamic state claimed credit for the attack. President Trump tweeted, via iPhone:
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!
-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
"It seemed to be a reference to a story Trump told at campaign rallies during the 2016 primaries, which in turn was a garbled version of an Islamophobic meme that has made its way around the internet for years.
"In the fable, the legendary U.S. General John J. Pershing once ended a wave of Muslim terrorism in the Philippines by executing prisoners with bullets dipped in pigs' blood. Other superstitious fighters were so terrified by the prospect of being killed while touching part of a forbidden animal, the story goes, that fighting immediately stopped, for some period of time.
"(For 25 years, Trump said at a North Charleston, South Carolina, rally in February 2016; a few weeks later, in Costa Mesa, California, it had jumped up to 42.)"
This story of General Pershing and Pig's Blood, is not only false; it also reveals Trump's ability to continually lie to evoke applause and cheers for himself.
The Pershing false story is also an ugly demonstration of Trump's repeated use of Islamophobia as a political tool. It is a statement of injustice.
Polling indicates the base which provides the applause and cheers he craves, has dropped into the lower 30 percent approval rating.
Trump did not cause this moral collapse. He found it sitting there, waiting for someone with his bravado and narcissism to turn the public's innate fear of others into a narrow political upset.
The metaphor which I find best addresses the phenomenon of Donald Trump, is the schoolyard bully who gains power through force and intimidation.
In my faith tradition, Joshua 24:15, gives the declaration of how best to confront and reject the schoolyard bully, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
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