Merriam-Webster tweeted about “Whataboutism.”
Some of the people who responded to this tweet believe that the tweet was timed for the start of the public impeachment hearings.
Maybe that is true, maybe not. I don’t really care. I have a couple thoughts about “whataboutism.”
Declaring “whataboutism” not a defense for hypocrisy.
As Merriam-Webster points out in their tweet, “whataboutism” is a form of the “tu quoque” (you too) logical fallacy that also attempts to establish an equivalence between two or more actions that are not really the same in kind.
Sometimes, however, the equivalence does not need to be established because it is obvious.
- President Donald Trump is a serial adulterer.
- Former President Bill Clinton is a serial adulterer.
If somebody points out the fact you criticized President Trump for adultery, but dismissed or overlooked President Clinton doing it crying “whataboutism” doesn’t make you less of a hypocrite.
Engaging in “whataboutism” or “you too” isn’t a defense.
Just because someone did the exact same thing or something similar doesn’t make what you are doing or what the person you are defending is doing right.
Just because President Clinton was a serial adulterer doesn’t make it ok for President Trump because it’s not.
Consistency is the obvious solution. If you criticized President Clinton for his affairs and turn a blind eye to President Trump’s history, you are a hypocrite. You need to acknowledge the problem. Not point out that President Clinton is guilty as well (as an example).
If you are going to criticize President Trump for adultery, but you defended President Clinton you should either remain silent or at least acknowledge that fact and state how you have changed your mind. What you shouldn’t do is attack President Trump and overlook the fact you gave President Clinton a pass.
Life and politics would be so much better if we all strived to be consistent.
The problem with “whataboutism” is that everybody is too busy pointing fingers and no one takes responsibility or is held accountable.