Stump Speech: “Bullets Dipped in Pigs’ Blood”

Stump Speech is a recurring series that examines the language used on the campaign trail – how well it works, and who’s behind it.

Today’s phrase: “Bullets Dipped in Pigs’ Blood”


An apocryphal story, which claims that American General John J. Pershing used bullets covered in pig’s blood to kill Muslims in the Philippines and quash their independence movement. Under Islamic law, contact with swine is forbidden.

Recent sighting

Donald Trump presented this spurious anecdote at a campaign rally in South Carolina Friday, to describe his plans to “go much further” than waterboarding. Equal parts religious intolerance, blind mysticism, and macho bluster – it seemed a perfect match for Trump’s platform of self-righteous ignorance.

Yet, this particular tale also ventured into new territory: it revealed the most sinister side of our country’s Republican frontrunner. Trump presented the story as fact. (Though “in the history books, they don’t like teaching this,” he said.) He presented summary execution as a viable solution “to a terrorism problem” and suggested that it alone was what prevented attacks on America for a period of 25 years.

Who’s behind it

Indeed, you *won’t* find this in “the history books.”

The idea of using swine to prevent Jihadists from reaching paradise has taken various forms over the last 20 years. Most references to the idea are thinly-sourced and/or restricted to seedy internet forums that trade in hearsay and conspiracy theories.

Our take

By now, it should be beyond any doubt that Donald Trump is a lunatic – and an extremely dangerous one at that. However, his language is extremely effective. Not only does it assign false historical legitimacy to a frightening idea, it contains an embedded insult: linking Muslims with pigs. His language is intended to arouse interest. And its logical end appears intended to incite violence.