Whataboutism Is a Mark of Foolishness

"The Capitol insurrection was horrifying enough as a spectacle of foolishness and symbol of civilizational decay. But another horrifying exhibit of foolishness has been the reactions to the event on social media. Namely, the widespread deployment of one of the laziest tactics to hit rhetoric since the ad hominem: whataboutism." - TGC

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Mark_Smith's picture

I know of no one who wants people off the hook for the capitol riot. What I know of is people who want consistency. They want all violent political acts brought to justice, not just ones you oppose.

When people I know say "what about..." with regards to Trump over the last 4 years, it isn't to say Trump never did or said anything wrong, stupid, or even sinful. Its is to point out the media has its thumb on the scale, using a magnifying glass to repeatedly call out loudly all of Trump's mistakes, while never mentioning the Democrats.

And it isn't just Trump. Sen. Cruz was leading a legal challenge to accepting the electoral college votes. Now he is condemned as a racist rioter... That is just one example.

America cannot continue down this ludicrous double standard highway we are on.

Larry's picture


The charge [of whataboutism] is an evasion — an attempt to duck the fact that Democrats are employing a double standard. Accepting the evasion means accepting unprincipled discourse, which is what the left desires. They insist on an exemption from normal rules of argument.

Whataboutism is essentially a demand that similar situations and similarly situated people be treated similarly. Thus, if not abused, whataboutism is an essential element of justice. (https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2021/01/what-about-whataboutism.php)

Also ...

The whataboutism indictments mean that we, who wield this cultural power [referring in the article to a particular justification of the rioting], can deliver crazy and dangerous pronouncements during one historical circumstance, and then a few months later use that power to decree that the earlier pronouncements are irrelevant to whatever points we’re making today. Cultural power means never having to say you’re sorry and never having to feel you’re constrained. Go ahead: take outrageous positions or issue preposterous formulations today, confident that if they make you or us look bad in the future, we, the culturally powerful, will join together to manufacture a consensus that even alluding to those embarrassments is now impermissible. (https://www.city-journal.org/about-whataboutism-and-political-hypocrisy)

What is foolish to me is asserting that raising issues of hypocrisy is foolish. If someone raises a past evil to defend a present one, they are beyond foolish. If someone raises a past evil to suggest that some other people don't really care about evil, then it is wise and must be answered. As the first article says, whataboutism is an essential element of justice. You cannot weight with two measures.