Whataboutery

Whataboutery is a term I associate with good and evil, right and wrong, ethical and unethical. I insert this concept in my writing because of its current prominence related to the interactions at a one-to-one level, cultural level, and at a governmental level. Whataboutery (Whataboutism) is a Soviet Era Cold War rhetorical defensive device. The Soviets used it as a deflective technique whenever the U. S. would challenge the USSR for human rights violations. If the United States criticized the Soviet Union for the imprisonment of human rights dissidents, the counter criticism  might be “What about  black lynchings in America?,” or “What about the violence in major American cities?” Whataboutery is a relativistic moral equivalency argument, and the diminishment of any moral truth by always deflecting it with a comeback argument of “What about you?” or “What did you do?” It is a neutralizing and equalizing of bad behavior no matter the degree. It is related to manipulation, gaslighting, propagandizing, and a defense mechanism like projection. The scary thing for me is, this moral equivalency deceptive tactic ends up eventually making for no right or wrong, or no good or evil. Whataboutery makes for “might makes right.” Think about it; if all behaviors are equalized and neutralized then ultimately the only behaviors of any importance are those of winners and losers. In such a scenario any bad or immoral behavior is allowed since “the end justifies the means.” Unfortunately, I fear that America’s and the world’s current political and social climates are fostering a mentality of moral equivalency. What do you think?

whataboutery

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