Behind Menacing Words, There is Meaning

If you watch T.V., read the newspaper, go online, or just generally exist in the world today, you are aware of certain words that keep popping up, over and over again. Especially during the election, the meanings of words or phrases tend to be manipulated by those that choose to use them.

We decided to break them down for you. The language of our political system can get tricky, and it’s important to pay attention to make sure that your representatives are being held accountable for their words. So in the spirit of transparency, we chose some important terms from the past election.

Here they are:


This phrase was coined by Richard Spencer, a white nationalist, in 2010. The purpose was to distinguish the mainstream American conservatives from this new branch -- which centers around the elevation of white supremacy while condemning the idea of “multiculturalism” and rights for minority groups. Their primary media platform is Breitbart news, which was conceived by Andrew Breitbart as a news source that would be “unapologetically pro-freedom”.  The website and radio program has consistently received allegations of racism and xenophobia. It’s former Executive Chairman is Steve Bannon, who is currently the Chief Strategist to President Trump.


This phrase has been used as a weapon of the far-right conservatives during the 2016 election, in an effort to cast doubt and distrust among Americans. It refers to the phenomenon of media outlets reporting information that has little grounding in fact. The distribution of fake news plays into the very real fear that our government and our media is not telling us the truth. While widely used by Donald Trump and co., the effects of “fake news” have been felt by everyone on the political spectrum. When we turn on the television, we expect quality news. We expect facts and an accurate depiction of the world today. What we collectively learned during the 2016 election is what many marginalized groups have known in this country for ages. When your government starts to propagate lies, you have to go elsewhere for news.


“Post-fact” is a political universe in which attention to truth is overlooked in favor of a more emotional appeal. Facts are sacrificed in order to grab the hearts and minds of disillusioned Americans. If you have the ability to change the facts, to change what is known, you have power.  This phrase was repeatedly used by Donald Trump as justification for his words not holding up against factual evidence.


This is a movement questioning the birthplace of Barack Obama. It is well known that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, and thus inside the United States. However, this movement driven by “dog-whistle” racism at the first black president, perpetuates the idea that he was born elsewhere (for example, Kenya) and is therefore not eligible for the role of president. This movement paralleled similarly charged discussions about President Obama’s religion, and whether or not he is a Muslim. We know that these arguments take place simply to appeal to those that identify with the politics of the far-right candidates and affirm ideas of racism and xenophobia in the US.

*These are examples of the words that were being heavily searched during and after the election.

But the most searched word after the election, after Trump’s victory, was fascism.

Fascism: A way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government”

What do you think of this definition? Do you think we all have a duty to fight fascism in our own communities?

You can learn more about the injustices and issues facing your community here.