You might have missed it, but last week Dictionary.com took another dive into the culture war by adding the made-up phrase “white fragility” to the dictionary as if it is a real thing.
It’s not just the fact of the definition, though, it’s how they define it that is truly beyond the pale. (Well, maybe I should have used a different idiom there.) The point is, it’s completely ridiculous, as Brent Bozell and Tim Graham explain in a new column.
One of strangest developments in today’s internet culture is how website dictionaries, which one might presume to be objective, have dabbled in “woke” leftist politics as a way of drawing clicks. USA Today reporter Jessica Guynn, who explains that her job is to explore how the digital world can “amplify bias and widen disparities,” delighted in reporting how the term “white fragility” has been added to dictionaries as a result of racial discussions on social media.
Sociologist Robin DiAngelo, one in the endless line of perpetually bored, arrogant and/or ignorant “experts” on race, coined the term “white fragility” in 2011. It was overlooked initially (and for good reason: It’s stupid). But naturally, it has picked up steam along with the political career of Donald Trump. After Trump won the presidency in 2016, the Oxford Dictionaries put the term on its short list for word of the year. Last week, it was added to Dictionary.com, defined as “the tendency among members of the dominant white cultural group to have a defensive, wounded, angry, or dismissive response to evidence of racism.”
USA Today also has an article out on the subject this week. It’s really something.
Because dictionaries reflect what people are talking about, many new words arise from the current flashpoints in the national debate over race, identity and culture, says Aria Razfar, professor of education and linguistics at University of Illinois at Chicago.
Among the terms added to Dictionary.com last week: “Latinx,” a gender-neutral term defined as “of or relating to people of Latin American descent,” “colorism,” referring to the “differential treatment based on skin color, especially favoritism toward those with a lighter skin tone and mistreatment or exclusion of those with a darker skin tone, typically among those of the same racial group or ethnicity” and “white lash,” “a hostile or violent reaction by white people to the advances or influx of other racial or ethnic groups.”
“Once a word or a phrase becomes part of the dictionary, it’s a good indicator that the ideas behind it have become more mainstream and being discussed on a wider scale. It gives us a way to discuss the underlying issues that the word points to,” Razfar says.
Terms such as white fragility “provide a language so that dominant society could interrogate itself and really look at itself in the mirror in terms of its relationship with non-dominant populations and oppressed groups,” he says.
Neither college nor dictionaries are safe for you anymore. All is the domain of the progressive liberal activist. The control they exert is preposterously outsize for their actual numbers and authority, and is approaching a near total lock-down on free thought, expression, and even language.
And if you’re about to say that reminds you of a book you’ve read, I wouldn’t get too comfortable with that, either. Books will be next.