The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 15, 2021


More than a few progressives become infuriated when anyone bring up the massive summer riots, orchestrated by left-wing groups such as antifa and BLM in the context of the Capitol riots. They argue that any mention of those riots is a distraction or "whataboutism" and has nothing to do with the right-wing riots that occurred at the Capitol on January 6th. But comparing the reaction of progressives and Democrats to the events of January 6th and then to the more widespread, violent and destructive riots of this past summer is informative. It is not a distraction because it provides an indication of just how selective outrage and condemnation can be.

The summer riots spanned a period of months, not hours, and resulted in massive property damage and violence. They, like the debacle at the Capitol, were planned and coordinated by extremists and driven by anger. The summer riots were often dismissed by Democrat city, state, and federal leaders as nothing to worry about. When summer rioters were arrested, federal agencies investigated half-heartedly, left-leaning prosecutors refused to prosecute, and the rioters were released to riot yet again. There was no massive national manhunt for the perpetrators (as there is now for the Capitol rioters).

When asked about the summer riots, soon-to-be VP, Kamala Harris, refused to condemn the perpetrators and then went so far as to urge her followers, ironically via Twitter, to contribute to a fund to bail-out those who had been arrested for arson, assault and battery, and theft, implying that somehow their rioting was justified by events.

Imagine for just a moment the firestorm that would result if any GOP politician even suggested that Capitol rioters should be released, much less suggest that Republicans contribute to a bail fund for them. The only GOP politician to delay condemnation of the Capitol rioters was Donald Trump, and it ruined him within his own party. Every other GOP politician condemned the Capitol riots immediately and unequivocally, and none suggested leniency for the perpetrators. 

But Democrats don't want to consider their rather different reactions in the summer and then on January 6th. That would imply that there's a level of hypocrisy at work. Instead, the Dems indict anyone who brings up the very different treatment of the summer riots with the 'crime' of "whataboutism." William Voegeli comments:

The whataboutism indictments mean that we [referring to the Democrats], 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.

In a way, charges of whataboutism are a form of cancel culture. The charges are intended to: (1) silence any discussion that doesn't fit the prevailing narrative; (2) erase the history of past (and often contradictory) positions, and (3) enable selective outrage that can be used to implement politically authoritarian policies.

Yet the Left insists that comparisons are not only irrelevant, but somehow a "distraction." Voegeli writes:

... different cases, though not identical, can be comparable in ways that fairly illuminate some underlying question. If whataboutism entails “raising a supposedly analogous issue in response to a perceived hypocrisy or inconsistency,” then raising plausibly analogous issues in response to a demonstrable hypocrisy or inconsistency does not qualify as whataboutism. Whether issue X is or isn’t analogous to issue Y, whether inconsistency Z is apparent or real, irrelevant, or germane—these disagreements become elements of any fair debate. And because it is legitimate for one side to raise such questions, it is illegitimate for the other side to use facile, tendentious accusations of whataboutism to rule them out of order. The point of that tactic is not to win a debate but stifle it.

But stifling any discussion that doesn't fit the narrative is something that is becoming S.O.P. for the new Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media. They now see that it works. That accusing someone of "whataboutism" keeps them quiet or better, forces them to self-censor. The Left has trouble wining any legitimate debate on any important issue unless it silences its opponents. That exactly what "whataboutism" is all about.