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Top Searches on Merriam-Webster Include 'Fascism' and 'Racism' After President Trump's Latest Rally

Alleged rapist and President of the United States, Donald Trump, at his neo-fascist rally in North Carolina on July 17, 2019
Alleged rapist and President of the United States, Donald Trump, at his neo-fascist rally in North Carolina on July 17, 2019
Photo: AP

Donald Trump held another neo-fascist rally yesterday in North Carolina, where the crowd chanted things like “treason,” “traitor,” and “send her back,” while the president talked about Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Online dictionary searches in the U.S. from last night show just how bad things have gotten.


Merriam-Webster reports that the most common searches last night included the terms: racism, socialism, fascism, concentration camp, xenophobia, and bigot. The searches are quite a snapshot of what it’s like to live in 2019, when toxic xenophobia and hatred are coming not just from the political fringes but from the most powerful man in the country.

The word “racism” received the highest number of searches last night, probably because there’s an ongoing debate in the U.S. over the president’s claims that Democratic women should “go back” to their countries. Three of the four women the president talked about were born in the U.S. and the fourth, Rep. Omar, became a naturalized citizen as a child.


“If they don’t love it, tell them to leave it,” Trump told the crowd on Wednesday in Greenville, North Carolina. “They don’t love our country. I think in some cases they hate our country.”

President Trump has escalated his rhetoric in recent months, not merely claiming that Democrats oppose his policies, but that they oppose America itself. Last month, Trump said that Democrats “want to destroy our country as we know it.” And when a reporter said in May that treason is punishable by death, Trump didn’t object to the suggestion.

The word “socialism” was the second most common word searched last night as Americans continue to debate what the political philosophy actually means. Some Republicans, including Lindsey Graham, have started to call Democrats “communists,” a more inflammatory word that invokes the Red Scare of the 1950s led by Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy. President Trump used the words socialist and socialism at least seven times last night, by our count.

“Fascism” was the third most popular word searched on Merriam-Webster, and it’s easy to see why. The definition at the online dictionary is on-point for what we’re witnessing in the U.S.:

a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition


The term “concentration camp” was the fourth most popular search last night, referring to the system of camps that the U.S. government is currently operating for asylum seekers at the southern border. Trump defended the camps and feigned outrage that anyone would dare call them concentration camps. The president pointed to a recent visit by Vice President Mike Pence to one of the camps in Texas, claiming that the experience proved migrants were being treated well.

“Mike Pence went down, just a few days ago, with members of Congress and the media and you looked at those so-called horrible concentration camps... they said, ‘wow, these places are clean, wow, they have air conditioning, they have water’...” Trump said.


This, of course, is a lie. Journalists on the ground at the McAllen, Texas concentration camp on July 12 reported that it was 99 degrees inside and that there was no air conditioning. And the government’s own watchdog has cited the facilities as dangerous and unsanitary.

“We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained,” the government report from last month reads, adding that some of the camps are a “ticking time bomb.”


Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham seemed to love Trump’s performance last night. One guest on Ingraham’s show even said that Rep. Omar is not an American.

Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley took to Twitter yesterday to confront the bigotry being stoked by the president. And Rep. Omar responded with a poem from Maya Angelou:


Bigot, the sixth most commonly searched word last night, wasn’t uttered at yesterday’s Trump rally, but it did pop up from an unlikely source just a few short years ago.

“You know how you can make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell,” Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN on December 8, 2015. “He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”


You’re not wrong, Senator Graham. But what happened to you since 2015?

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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We are so stupid! Who over the age of 8 needs the dictionary for “racism”? Adults should be reading up on these topics, sure, but in sources other than dictionaries. A dictionary won’t provide nuance, context, or history.

“Concentration camp” predates the Holocaust, and the Holocaust targeted minorities other than Jews.  That’s information you won’t find in a 10-word blurb in a dictionary.  Anyone interested in this stuff needs to up their game.