Oh, Bradlee Dean. How I Love You.

On Facebook the other day, weapons grade dumbass Bradlee Dean posted a picture that claims that the word “racism” was a “made up word” (aren’t all words made up?) invented by Leon Trotsky to “browbeat all dissenters of (sic) the communist ideology” and that it’s “still used to this day” to “shut down all nonconformists.”


You’re not a “nonconformist,” Bradlee, you’re a moron and a bigot. Have fun paying that $24,000 bill for the legal fees on the ridiculous lawsuit you filed. And good move hiring Larry Klayman, aka the Dumbest Laywer in America Not Named Mat Staver. And you’re also completely wrong on the origin of that word. The first recorded use of the term is from Richard Henry Pratt in opposition to segregation.

This is to be expected, of course. Bradlee Dean is wrong about practically everything. It’s what makes him so endlessly amusing. All of this led to this exchange on Twitter after a friend of mine challenged him on it. Dean posted a link to this article, which claims that a Russian word in something Trotsky wrote in 1930 translates as racist and anyone looking will “never find an earlier usage of the word “racist” than Trotsky’s coinage of the word here.” But that’s wrong. The word appears in English at least 28 years earlier, as the link above shows. So I tweeted that to Dean and much hilarity — and stupidity — ensues.

I imagine him sending out a desperate prayer.

Dean: Dear Jesus. Ed Brayton has proven me wrong about something. How shall I handle it?

Jesus: Bring up the devil.

Dean: Got it! That always works!

A little while later:

Dean: Crap, that didn’t work. What do I do now?

Jesus: Call him a communist to change the subject.

Dean: Great idea! That never fails!


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  • DaveL

    Hey, at least he didn’t call Trotsky a Stalinist, this time. That one nearly cost me a new keyboard.

  • Jeremy Shaffer

    Are we here asking the devils to tell us the truth?

    Whether they are or aren’t, someone has to. They sure don’t seem capable of doing in on their own.

  • alanb

    Not only is Bradlee wrong about the history of the word racism, it doesn’t matter if he were right. The word merely replaced another word, racialism, which meant exactly the same thing.

  • colnago80

    Re DaveL @ #1

    Rather hard to call Trotsky a Stalinist as it was ole Joe who ordered his assassination.

  • He’s behind the times. Doesn’t he know that using Obamacare to distract people from right-wing stupidity is passe? It’s “Benghazi” now! Or again. Or something.

  • Artor

    Colnago80, I think he knows that, hence: the threat to his keyboard.

  • John Pieret

    For all of the useful idiots out there …

    As opposed to the useless idiots? … like Bradlee?

  • That still doesn’t take away from the fact that Trotsky championed the cause of the black Russians, resulting in their freedom to make their unique vodka/liqueur drink. A drink that, by the way, went on to inspire millions to fight Communism, spearheaded by “the Dude,” who was able to abide the massive onslaught of a;ternative bands and other despotic ideologies of the 1990s. The story of “the Dude’s” taking down the Berlin Wall is told in the documentary film “The Big Lebowski.”

    Hey, that’s as historically accurate as wingnuts’ rewritings of the past.

  • gshelley

    Maybe I’m not quite dumb enough, but even if Trotsky had coined the word, so what? What is Dean’s point? Does he think we should use another word, or does he think that if a communist invented a word to criticize people, there is nothing wrong with what it is describing? Or that racism in the sense that any rational person understands it does not exist, so the word has no valid use? Something else?

  • alanb


    If a Communist makes up a word then it automatically has word cooties, which means that only blacks and liberals can be racist. I thought everybody knew that.

  • vilstef

    @ArtK, yeah even the slow ones are getting the idea the the “threat” of Obamacare doesn’t have much traction. You wanna cuppa Benghazi iwth that?

  • frankniddy

    I assume it’s standard guilt by association nonsense, the right’s stock and trade.

  • Are we here asking the devils to tell us the truth?


  • dingojack

    But, but, but — Words have special powers. If’ you say the right word, at the right time magical stuff happens.

    Or at least that’s what right-wing religious authoritarians (and their useful idiots) seem to think.



  • Pen

    I’ll take Ed’s word for it on the origins of the word ‘racism’. One thing I do know is that in turn of the 19th/20th century european texts the word ‘race’ was used to mean ‘nation’ rather than as we understand it today. In that lexicon, it was perfectly reasonable to describe the French as one race, the Germans as another. The British Isles were generally considered to harbour several (white) races. I imagine Trotsky was using the word racism to complain about something we would now call nationalism.

    * For those who can’t make any sense of what the ancients could possibly have meant by ‘race’ or ‘nation’, well, no such thing actually exists, but what they meant was the identity between a group of people, a language, a culture, a government and a chunk of geography, from time immemorial. Differences in appearance were incidental and expected to be subtle.

  • Abdul Alhazred

    The first recorded use of the term is from Richard Henry Pratt in opposition to segregation.

    You sure it wasn’t Earl Browder? 😉

  • Numenaster

    Words have special powers. If’ you say the right word, at the right time magical stuff happens.

    Or at least that’s what right-wing religious authoritarians (and their useful idiots) seem to think.

    I believe you’ve just defined prayer.

  • The word “racism” comes from the German word Rassismus, by way of French. Its first known English use was 1936, when it began to replace racialism, a more literal translation of Rassismus.

    The German word appeared in the mid 19th century as part of the eugenics movement, when it described a desire to cultivate “racial purity.” In those days, being a racist was a good thing, as it meant you put the good of your race — and thus, the good of society — ahead of everything else. From these roots, it became a cornerstone of Nazi ideology. It was not until after WW II that the word came to have generally negative connotations.

    Not that Dean cares about facts or anything.

  • @Ed #0 – I read your link about Richard Henry Pratt. Etymology Online gives a different history for the word. The Wikipedia entry for the word indicates that, in the 19th century, “racialism” and various cognates in other European languages were used to favorably describe the social doctrine of eugenics and political justifications for imperialism. While the terms “racism” and “racialism” have long held negative connotations for people opposed to eugenics and imperialism, it wasn’t until after WW II that the sense changed to generally negative.

  • D Carter

    For extra credit: point out to Bradlee the connection between Aryan and Iran.

  • dingojack

    Etymology Online or the OED? Hmm…. to which do I give more credence?



    Not that I deny the utility of the former, but when stacked up against the latter as a source….

  • Ichthyic

    Are we here asking the devils to tell us the truth?

    I would happily take the truth from the Devil than lies from God any day of the week (I’m sure that’s a paraphrase of some historical quote).

    thankfully, I, nor anyone else, has ever had to even make such a decision.

    nor have I ever had to decide whether Spongebob Squarepants or Harry Potter is more truthy.

    instead, it’s pretty easy to vett liars from truthtellers over time. Thus, experience itself lends to us all the tools necessary to create our own trusted authorities.

    some of indeed are able to learn from that experience, others, apparently, are not, or are simply incapable of doing so.

    it’s all very well explained and predicted on where you fall on the scale of authoritarianism.

  • Ichthyic

    As opposed to the useless idiots? … like Bradlee?

    i’m sure Bradlee is indeed a useful idiot to someone.

    I’m just as sure I don’t even want to know who that is.

  • martinc

    Hilariously, even Dean’s lame distractor is a fake quote. “Socialized medicine is a keystone to the establishment of a socialist state” is a ‘quote’ that circles round and round the right-wing echo chambers without anyone ever having bothered to actually source it to Lenin.

    Jonathan Weiler at Huffpost investigated it when Ben Carson repeated it last year. He found that according to David Blumenthal’s and James Morone’s “The Heart of Power”, it dates from a right-wing panic-brochure put out in 1949 by some hired guns for the AMA to prevent Truman instituting a proposed national health insurance scheme.

    Weiler wrote:

    Blumenthal and Morone write that when, in a subsequent inquiry, the Library of Congress was asked to locate the source of the quote, “they found nothing like it.” In other words, it was almost certainly a fabrication

  • anubisprime

    Like petulant particularly dumb toddlers…anything they cannot either understand or control they instantly run and hide from and make up fantastical stories about.

    And then lie about it to everyone else, they do not even parse the point that their dubious ‘facts’ can be easily checked.

    But their lies are only manufactured to sell to their own ‘intellectual’ equals…they are pretending superiority in their own circles. a desperate need for street cred…that is why so many both religious and right wing bozos make up fake degrees and claim secret ‘knowledge’ that ‘proves’ conspiracy…a ‘knowledge’ which they have never and will never have, it is the tantrum foot-stomping of an obnoxious brat demanding attention.

    There is not a cigarette paper between the rabid right wing and the fanatical religious, they are the two faces of the same coin.

    Liars, deluded, bullies, and dangerous with it.

  • jgairns

    Lenin remains 100% WRONG, it is not a control mechanism or a socialist gateway drug. Socialized medicine, as we have in Canada, is really quite fantastic. We pay a fee based on our income, sometimes our employers cover it .. but it is very reasonable.

    I broke my ankle and knee (two separate events) and would be crippled without the excellent surgery I had. My doctors are exceptional people and I owe them a debt of gratitude. Are there people who game the system? Yes, of course, it is no different than anything else, but for the majority of us it is fantastic.

    So, to all the morons out there who like to parrot the tired old “socialized medicine is a pinko control plot” .. could you all just jump in a lake please? Just make sure it is not a socialist lake, for your own sake and for the sake of democracy!