I have a terrible habit of commenting on news stories that I see on Facebook. And especially when the story is about social justice, or race relations, or politics in general.
I know I shouldn’t. I know that a distressing majority of the comments I’m going to get in response will be from some stupid dipshit with no understanding of the issue who just wants to make edgy jokes at the expense of a minority, if not outright Nazi-ideology hate speech.
But sometimes the response will be my new favorite thing to encounter in the wild: whataboutism.
If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the last couple of years, you’ll likely recognize the term. If not, you’re still probably familiar with the concept:
Whataboutism is when I say that I’m glad the Proud Boys are getting sued by a Black church, and some white supremacist shows up to say, “Well, what about Antifa burning down cities?”
Whataboutism is when I say that trans rights are human rights, and some transphobe shows up to say, “Well, what about liberals killing babies?”
Whataboutism is when I say Black Lives Matter and some racist shows up to say, “Well, what about white lives?”
These are all real examples that happened to me in Facebook comment sections in the past week, by the way.
Whataboutism is a lazy, silly way of trying to distract everyone from a real issue, particularly one in which you’re on the wrong side of history (not to mention basic morality) by distracting everyone with bullshit- and apparently, judging by the frequency that I see it used, bonus Whataboutism Points are awarded if the bullshit was a strawman argument in the first place.
You’d think it would be irritating, right?
Nah. For some reason, I love it.
Maybe it’s the abjectly hilarious stupidity of the tactic- grasping desperately at whatever straws you can find, no matter how pathetic the attempt. It’s almost comforting how reliably the same nonsense is trotted out by the same types of people, and it’s never something you need to take seriously- it’s like a bedtime story, in a twisted sort of way.
It fills my heart with joy to realize that these are the best arguments that bigots are able to come up with, I guess. It’s hard to fear an enemy that can’t even string a complete thought from one end of a conversation to another.
But then again, maybe I just enjoy the rantings of crazy people.
I guess I must, considering I keep commenting on Facebook news articles.