Wednesday, January 13, 2021

"Whataboutism" and Political Hypocrisy

William Voegeli, writing in City Journal, analyzes the debate technique that has become so popular in recent times. An excerpt:

"The whataboutism indictments mean that we, who wield this cultural power, can deliver crazy and dangerous pronouncements during one historical circumstance, and then a few months later use that power to decree that the earlier pronouncements are irrelevant to whatever points we’re making today. Cultural power means never having to say you’re sorry and never having to feel you’re constrained. Go ahead: take outrageous positions or issue preposterous formulations today, confident that if they make you or us look bad in the future, we, the culturally powerful, will join together to manufacture a consensus that even alluding to those embarrassments is now impermissible. It will be as if they never happened. Kant’s categorical imperative about committing or defending only those actions you would uphold as universal principles is ground down to a speed bump. Cultural power demolishes universality with situational assertions of relativity: That was then; this is now. If some annoying troll complains about our inconsistency or hypocrisy, we’ll respond with accusations of whataboutism, an update of the credo voiced by Eric Stratton in Animal House: You f---ed up. You took us seriously."

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