I’m finding myself more irritated by criticism of “whataboutism.”
“Whataboutism” is when someone points out something horrible a politician group or person does, and rather than addressing it, they reply by pointing out that someone else did something comparable to it in the past. It’s called whataboutism because the person usually replies to the criticism with “well, what about X …?” And are obviously opting not to respond to the criticism.
This tactic is not wrong or dishonest inherently. It can be used by people who lack principles to be a weasel. It can also be used to comment on how the questioner/commenter himself lacks perspective or has hypocritical standards. The difference between someone being a weasel and someone asking the question with good intent will often lie in intent. It’s not always easy to know someone’s intent, sure, but the fact that the tactic can be used by weasels to be weasel-ly doesn’t mean this line of questioning is improper.
I used to be generally against whataboutism. However, in the age of Donald Trump we are being surrounded by people outraged and proclaiming their moral superiority while being incredible hypocrites. I dislike Donald Trump, but his sins are the sins of Obama and the government machine itself.
The most ardently outraged aren’t people who hold principles and consistent values … it is the people who don’t bat an eye at Obama killing hundreds of thousands of people and clutches their pearls when Trump says something vulgar. The most ardently outraged are people who are using this opportunity for their tribal gain. Their outrage is hypocritical bullshit that lacks perspective and “whataboutism” is appropriate in exposing their intellectual/moral fraud.
Don’t get me wrong, Trump is a pile of shit. However, to someone who has a consistent ideology … he is merely a slightly less polished pile of shit than his predecessors. I think it is highly problematic to allow hypocrites and intellectual frauds to capture the perception of moral authority over such minutia while they ignored hundreds of thousands of deaths and the other tragedies caused by government in the recent past.