Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump used a debunked story about US Gen. John Pershing supposedly executing Muslim prisoners to portray himself as being willing to pursue terrorists more aggressively, MSNBC reported on Friday.
Trump cited the story during a speech in Charleston, South Carolina, telling supporters they could “read it in the history books.” In fact, according to the fact-checking site Snopes.com, the story — as he presented it — originated online in 2001.
The real estate magnate said that Pershing ordered the execution of Muslim prisoners in the Philippines.
“He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood,” Trump said. “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, OK?”
According to Snopes, the incident is not mentioned in biographies of Pershing. Other accounts of his actions while serving as governor for the country’s Moro Providence depict Pershing as wanting to minimize casualties and only threatening to use the “pig’s blood” punishment.
On Friday, Trump also returned to his criticism of waterboarding, which he has described as “minimal, minimal, minimal torture.”
“Can you imagine these people when they sit around at night, eating whatever they’re eating, and talking about the United States that they’re actually worried about waterboarding as being a little bit cruel?” Trump said. “And these people chop off heads. These people must think we are the dumbest and the weakest and the stupidest people on Earth.”
Watch Trump’s speech in its entirety, as posted online, below.