The correct and (mostly) incorrect use of the Whataboutery defence

Desi Liberal Twitter is ablaze with the whataboutery defence. The RW screams “Hypocrisy” , the liberal answers “whataboutery” . Lets go into the correct and mostly incorrect use of “whataboutery”

Whataboutery was mostly used by Soviet Russia and its useful idiots in the west. You could not ask about Stalins Gulags without inviting a question about imagined American imperialism. The most tragic-comic is this one from wikipedia.

The terse Soviet announcement of the Chernobyl accident was followed by a Tass dispatch noting that there had been many mishaps in the United States, ranging from Three Mile Island outside Harrisburg, Pa., to the Ginna plant near Rochester.

Yes we just had a horrible nuclear disaster, the worst in history — 31 people died. But what about Three Mile Island?

Three Mile Island was an accident where nobody died and happened 7 years before Chernobyl. It was heavily criticized in its own time and created an anti nuclear movement. The key thing to note here is that there is no connection between both accidents. Other than the fact that they are nuclear power plant accidents, Chernobyl has as much to do with Three Mile Island as it has to do with Fukushima — which is nothing. The Chernobyl accident was caused by such a faulty design that it is unsafe to this day.

Classic “whataboutery” is trying to defend the indefensible by making a false equivalence.

Another common use of whataboutery is whenever ISRO does something stupendous with its tiny budget, like reach Mars. The western “liberal” media starts a but “what about those starving children” story. Or a cow story. Or «insert your favorite racist anti-Indian stereotype here» story.

So … What about those starving children? A tiny budget is allocated to India’s space agency. A far far larger budget allocated to welfare “schemes” for the poor named after every living, dead and yet to be born member of the Nehru dynasty. One does stupendous things, the other is mostly used to enrich and perpetuate the dynasty and fails at its primary mission. Tragic or not they have nothing to do with each other. So here you have another instance of classic “whataboutery”.


But what happens when the two incidents are related and connected. What if an incident involves one communities members attacking another communities members and the media goes ballistic and decries the senseless violence. The next day the same incident happens in reverse. Wouldn’t you expect a similar outrage?

What if an incident happens during one governments term and a similar incident happens again during another governments term.

What happens when an incident happens in one state ruled by one party. The same incident happens the next day in another state ruled by another political party. Wouldn’t you expect similar treatment, the same outrage?

What if a rationalist was given death threats by a religious group, the next day another religious group drives another rationalist out of the country?

What if there is deafening outrage one day, and stony silence the next day?

What if somebody asks:

What about Yesterday? Why were you outraging ? Why are you not outraging today?

The question is valid. It is not “whataboutery”. The correct word then to describe the media’s behavior is hypocrisy

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