The Problem With Whataboutism

I found this discussion of “Whataboutism” helpful in analyzing my own thoughts.
I invite your insights, too.

Where do you go to get a humble perspective?


I tend to get this a lot, especially throughout the pandemic, when I went to criticize or critique statements that various leaders or articles made. Basically, they would just ignore what I was saying and deflect to “but what about X.” I started to realize what they were doing and then began trying to explain that, “sure, what you bring up is an interesting and important topic, but it has nothing to do with what I said.” I think that a lot of this stems from people have “teams” they basically root and cheer for. Their team can do no wrong and if you point out that their team leader is wrong, then you must be cheering for the other team. I wasn’t even doing that, but it’s hard to break out of that tribal mentality.

And then I had to wonder if I do this too sometimes. And then I wonder if I get good enough at it, perhaps I can run for office someday too.


I agree in part. But I also believe that it plays it’s part in showcasing how somethings get treated one way and something else exactly like it gets treated in a different way. I feel the argument is often being used to showcase hypocrisy.

Such as if someone fighting for minority rights is trying to showcase why someone who is black is receiving a 20 year sentence “but what about” these white guys that only received 12 and “what about” those women only getting 8 when it’s all the same exact type of crime.

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In the article, it talks about using “what about” as method of deflection. Basically it being used to justify some actions that shouldn’t be justified by comparing to other actions that are often a false equivalence. the typical example today is comparing BLM to the attack on the capitol. One was a massive world wide protest fighting for fair treatment that caused a certain amount of damage (protest always do), the other was a relative small protest that tried to over through the democratic process. BLM can be criticized for the damage caused but that doesn’t justify the attack on the capitol.

What you are talking about is precedent and fairness, not deflection.

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I don’t think most people who bring up BLM is trying to justify the attack on the capital. I think BLM routinely does the same exact thing as the idiots that stormed the capital. But I also don’t know of anyone except the few extremists involved in both movements that try to support the extremist actions. So every single time I’ve seen “ what about BLM “ it’s been about what I was saying and not about justification. Just like with Trump , I believe that the leaders of BLM also constantly use war language which also hypes up the extremist in their groups which in return results in deaths, destruction of property and police fights.

The reason why I brought up what I did about “ what abouts” is because I think that’s how it’s used almost every single time. I think the article is more at trying to undermine comparisons that highlight hypocrisy as a way to just dismiss a counter argument without actually countering it.

Kind of like when someone’s says , “ I’m this or that ( BUT ) and then the other person is like oh here’s the but but but and dismisses the argument by the false notion that “but” is directly undermining the previous statement.

But I do agree if someone is trying to justify one persons evil for another persons evil then those people are just wanting to justify evil, snd probably hypocritically as well.

Why not criticize both? I cant stand people taking extreme sides. Like if something a Christian or someone close to me do that its wrong i wont defend him because hes in “my team”. In this the case the capitol attack and the destructions on the summer im against both .I think its common sense to see that both of these had not a good outcome. Although the one was a justified protest that later became something else. So i agree with you that the one does not justify the other.

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101% agree with you. We need to realize that extremism is everywhere. Even in the progressive movement

Injustice, wherever it is, should be criticized to be sure. Not all causes are equal or appropriate to confront in some given moment or context or point in cultural history, though. If a cruel teacher physically abuses his students - is repeatedly caught doing so and finally some families confront him about it - that is not the time for somebody to bring up … “well, you know Billy did actually kind of provoke him that once - and his kids are a sometimes a tough bunch that do misbehave and have it coming.” All of that may be true enough, but it is not a justification for the authority figure in power to not face consequences. If there is an imbalance of power, and one party is at the mercy of the other, then truth needs to be spoken first and foremost to the one in power. He needs to face the quickest and surest consequences from a system or society which ostensibly should be concerning itself with the protection of the more vulnerable ones. The undeniable fact that vulnerable parties are usually not free from guilt themselves in no ways invalidates this priority. Nor should it even reduce it to some 50-50 proposition in which significant resources must be diverted away from the needy to protect already powerful people in the name of some sort of misapplied “impartiality”. The Bible does exhort us toward impartiality; but its writers are not blind to how such distinctions so often get misappropriated … just read James 2 sometime.

I dont get the example
Do you disagree with my post that we should criticize both? So you are one sided?

I agree with the article that “Whataboutism” should not be used to dismiss the seriousness of either side - nor should it be used to push a false narrative that “both sides” of any particular issue should always have equal claim to attention or redress. But even when one side may have a “lesser claim” to attention, it does not follow that it should be given no attention whatsoever. Every injustice is in need of correction. Some injustices are more egregious and far-reaching than others, therefore meriting proportionally more attention. I was just trying to provide an example of a power imbalance. There is a reason that laws are in place to protect students. Because in classrooms, teachers are given more power, and therefore held to a higher standard of responsibility. That makes an injustice from a teacher a more serious thing than an injustice from a student.

Hi Honey, I’m home.


Ohhh yeah. That however doesnt apply to social injustices always. Are you trying to argue that police brutality is more evil than destroying inocents people property who did nothing? If so im sorry i wont agree. Maybe step to their shoes and then judge. Thankfully a lot of the protesters didnt do that(do violence)

Also a quote i like

Evil is evil,lesser,greater,middling its all the same

Just in time. I’ve been wanting to answer the thread title by asking “but what about nothing buttery?”, but I was waiting for your return.

So if each of us were to suffer a crime … one of us is robbed of $5 and the other of us is robbed of $5000 - according to you all evil is the same, right? So (if we would get to choose for some bizarre reason); you wouldn’t mind then if I choose to endure the $5 loss and leave you to suffer the $5000? According to your logic, you should be happy to grant me my preference … you being indifferent about it and all.

That said … I do agree with you that all violence is evil and seriously so. There already are laws on the books against rioting and property damage and such. It may not always be enforced or enforceable if the miscreants are not caught. But laws that permit ongoing and unjustified systemic violence against unarmed people from law enforcement agencies - that is something that needs to change. As somebody who wants to support police in their communities, I want to help them uphold higher standards so that they too can continue to enjoy the respect and trust of the communities they are sworn to protect. Anything that allows violent injustice to proliferate and be protected within their ranks is ultimately an anti-police sentiment that would see the profession squashed and besmirched until it is indistinguishable from organized crime or in some locales a racist mob. Most police in most communities I know of are much better than that, and I support them by wanting their worst to face any needed justice and/or be removed so that those bad actors among them don’t continue to perpetrate violence in the community

5 dollars for you is like a hundred for a homeless
man. Unless you want to make the argument that everything holds the same value to everyone. Which in that case youre wrong. So for you that 5 dollars might be to get trough the day ,and yes you gonna mounr the same as me who lost the 5000. Same with a rich guy
A billionare wont cry for lossing 5000 . Its so little to him that he wont even notice they are missung

Now about your second paragraph. Are you expressing your thoughts? If so yes i agree but if you try to argue for something you are basically arguing with yourself since i clearly stated before that i agree with your arguments

Well then - it appears we agree then. $5 is very different than $5000 to nearly everyone. And of course different people value given quantities of money differently … adjust the quantities accordingly - the point still stands.

And yes - the 2nd paragraph too was stating my actual thoughts. I’m glad to be with you on such things! And even if we weren’t, I’d still be here talking with you anyway.

Well yes your point would make sense if and only if we were all “equal”(on different things) or in that case whould have the same economic status. But thats an “utopian” argument as i call it. Thats why i disagree on your take on my quote Thanks for the conversation Mervin. Glad i have you here. ! Take care

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