The official Twitter account for Merriam-Webster Dictionary appeared to jab Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume on Tuesday for citing its first definition of racism to defend President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE’s tweets about Democratic congresswomen of color.
Hume took to Twitter on Monday to condemn the president’s tweets, which said the congresswomen should "go back" to other countries, writing that they were “nativist, xenophobic, counterfactual and politically stupid,” but not racist.
He defended his stance by pointing “definition 1” under "racism" on Merriam-Webster’s website.
For those who asked what is my standard definition of racism, here is an answer: Note definition 1. https://t.co/4kPRE3wDA7— Brit Hume (@brithume) July 15, 2019
The first definition reads: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
The dictionary’s social media account, on Monday, appeared to call out the Fox News host for not reading on for more information.
“Many of our entries have helpful usage notes if you scroll farther than the first definition,” Merriam-Webster wrote.
The image includes a paragraph farther down on the webpage to which Hume linked, which says that “dictionaries are often treated as the final arbiter in arguments over a word’s meaning, but they are not always well suited for settling disputes.”
“The lexicographer’s role is to explain how words are (or have been) actually used, not how some may feel that they should be used, and they say nothing about the intrinsic nature of the thing named by a word, much less the significance it may have for individuals,” the website states.
Merriam-Webster notes that while discussing concepts like racism, it is “prudent” to recognize that simply quoting the dictionary “is unlikely to either mollify or persuade the person with whom one is arguing.”
Many of our entries have helpful usage notes if you scroll farther than the first definition. pic.twitter.com/a91ezmH9rW— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) July 15, 2019
Trump sparked outrage Sunday morning when he tweeted that unidentified progressive congresswomen "who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe" should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
He did not identify to whom he was referring, but the comments were widely interpreted as targeting Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezFeehery: The confidence game Democrats face full legislative plate and rising tensions McCarthy on Dems' spending bill: 'The amount of money we spent to win World War II' MORE (N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarWarren, Bush offer bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratorium Democrats look for Plan B after blow on immigration Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian MORE (Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibProgressive foreign policy should not be pro-autocracy Democratic bill would force Fed to defund fossil fuels Democrats brace for battle on Biden's .5 trillion spending plan MORE (Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyWarren, Bush offer bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratorium Haitians stuck in Texas extend Biden's immigration woes Advocates 'in utter disbelief' after Biden resumes Haitian repatriations MORE (Mass.), all four of whom are U.S. citizens.
Democrats have blasted Trump for using a racist trope, and a handful of Republicans, including Reps. Will Hurd (Texas) and Michael Turner (Ohio), have described the language as racist, though most Republicans have stopped short of using the term explicitly.
The president now faces an upcoming House vote to explicitly condemn the tweets as racist.
The text of the resolution, which is sponsored by freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), states that the House "strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should 'go back' to other countries."
The resolution also states that the House "believes that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in the United States for many generations" and "is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression, and those who are willing to work hard to live the American Dream, no matter their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin."