When ‘whataboutism’ is appropriate
by Jeff Jacoby The Boston Globe
January 15, 2023
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“Whataboutism,” a term much in fashion in political circles these days, is a pejorative reference to a very old and familiar argument: A’s bad behavior can’t be condemned because B engaged in bad behavior too.
The term dates back to the Cold War. It was the label given to a tactic perfected by Soviet propagandists. If Western critics blasted Moscow’s crimes in Afghanistan, the persecution of dissidents, or the horrors of the Gulag, trained Soviet flacks would respond with knee-jerk “whataboutism”: What about racism in America? What about Watergate? What about riots in US cities?
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Sorry, but you can’t distract from the point being made about your bad behavior by pointing to someone else’s bad behavior.
Each “counter example” may be worthy of its own discussion, but stick to the point at hand.