Blaming everyone else when you get caught is like blaming doctors when you get sick

By Jim Kempton

Wavelengths
By Jim Kempton

They say the man who smiles when things go wrong has already thought of someone to blame it on.

Or, in our current state, ask, “What about them?”

“Whataboutism,” also known as “whataboutery,” is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “the logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument, which in the U.S. is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda.”

This definition comes from the mid-20th century period when the Russians accused the USA of our faults to cover up the horrific deeds they were doing and continue to do. It was the equivalent of  the USSR running 47 consecutive traffic signals and then complaining that the USA turned right on a red light. And it’s true we sometimes do that.

The Soviets used a fact-based response to their atrocities with the line “and you are hanging blacks.” Sorry, Vlad, but millions of deaths in the Gulags just doesn’t compare.

A good deal of this “blame everyone else” seems to be going on in the top echelons of our society today. As human nature would suggest, we are all tempted to use the “what about them?” defense. When the Highway Patrolman is writing you a ticket, don’t you want to say, “Look, officer—look at all those other drivers who didn’t come to a complete halt at the stop sign!”

Of course, we know the “other people do it” pretext is not supported by any extended logic. Otherwise, murderers would simply excuse themselves with the fact that “people do it all the time!” And it is true that in this great country of ours, homicide happens on average 45 times a day.

When a school bully pushes another kid aside and cuts in line and—when confronted—responds by sneering, “I saw Joey do it yesterday; no big deal!” he is practicing whataboutery.

Politicians are refining this to a fine art at the moment. Among the recent charges connected to those in high places have been allegations of being sexual predators, cheating on vote counts, or cheating on their taxes. Strong evidence indicates bribery, threatening witnesses, even abusing their unparalleled political influence to personally profit. And in a particular case, a single person has accusations for all of the above.

In each instance, those accused try to deflect the charges by finding others who have done the same bad things. Distract, deny, delay. It didn’t work for Nixon.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, these whataboutism tactics have also been effectively employed by the leaders of Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Turkey. Aren’t they somebody’s new best friends?

The technique does not stand up in the USA, though—at least not outside of Washington, D.C. Can you imagine going to traffic court and making your plea to the judge: “Everyone speeds, Your Honor!”

The less comic (but no less absurd) use of this defense is playing out in our nation’s capital: “You can’t give me a speeding ticket—I’m doing a really good job at work! Besides, the cops are all out to get me!”

The crime being probed is inexcusably shocking. It isn’t analogous to exceeding the speed limit. It is more similar to the school principal being clocked going 80 mph through an in-session school zone while under the influence after a third warning.

It leaves very little to argue about when in addition to being recorded on tape and television, the school teachers, bus drivers and staff all testify in traffic court that the vice principal, secretary and the school’s head of security were all in the car drinking with him.

We are awaiting the verdict of the American people—will this be a serious driving violation, threatening all school kids? Or just another day of road rage in ugly traffic?

Jim Kempton is a writer, surfer and longtime Orange County resident. He believes you should make your bed but not lie in it.

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comments (9)

  • Jim Kempton, in one of those “Captain Obvious” moments, quotes Webster’s Dictionary: “Whataboutism…attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument…”

    While true, lost in this exercise in ‘sleight of hand’ is the fact that neither does it refute the charge of hypocrisy. More importantly, it assumes that anyone, and in this case President Trump, who is accused is guilty regardless of the evidence.

    Kempton’s fictional school illustration, a stand-in for the Trump administration, is another leftist straw-man. Yes, Trump’s confidential recording of his conversation with the President of Ukraine has been revealed…and it contains NO quid pro quo. Compare that with former VP, Joe Biden who not only engaged in a textbook case of quid pro quo but bragged about it. Leftist hypocrites see nothing wrong in Joe Biden’s actions because they are desperate to overturn an election in which their candidate, Hillary Clinton, cheated and still lost. They rightly recognize that in all probability, President Trump will be reelected and reelected precisely because of the successes his administration has achieved.

    Finally, Kempton and other leftists shouldn’t cloak their hypocrisy in charges of “whataboutism”, but instead focus on demonstrating a wrong has even been committed. This is perhaps a tall order for those who have marinated in the propaganda outlets masquerading as journalism and who feed the TDS so many are suffering from.

  • Hmmm we can’t be sure what or whom writer Jim refers to but we can same surmise it’s the president. First it was that our president is a Russian stooge. In the the pocket of Vlad Putin! No matter that he has no Russian background or connection to Russia in any way, and he’s a billionaire, he actually loves Russia and Putin even above his own country. Well….wait until the Mueller report!

    Now it’s a call with the Ukrainian prime Minister. He spoke of getting to the bottom of potential past corruption – as a treaty signed by Clinton in 1998 requires him to do. Ah but a ‘whistle-blower’ who heard the story second hand didn’t approve went to the opposition party to report this. The funny thing is, Joe Biden is on video doing (quid pro quo) what they accuse Trump of doing. Funny times!

  • Ross?

    I’m pretty sure that MOST AMERICANS WHO READ THE MUELLER REPORT saw the very strange conduct on behalf of Trump and his campaign. I hope you read the report. They welcomed the Russian help, they shared campaign data, they obstructed justice about 15 times –that is codified in black letter.

    Any grown up reading the Ukrainian shake down “transcript” from the WH can see a full blown , law school, textbook, bar exam quality quid pro quo between consecutive paragraphs and back to back sentences.

    I voted for Ford, Reagan, Bush one and two. Trump? Really? He’s a vulgar, uneducated, non reading realtor. That is fact. He’s a foreign policy nightmare, appears to love Putin among other despots and is the poster child for “what about-ism”.

    Respectfully sir your letter is weak– Kempton nailed it.

    • What are the Democrats hiding and why are they afraid to allow the Republicans to cross-examine the non-whistle blower?

      “I’m pretty sure that MOST AMERICANS WHO READ THE MUELLER REPORT saw the…”

      News flash, Bud Nehman, the Mueller hoax ran out of gas and apparently, Mueller didn’t bother to read his own report. With a score of hostile attorneys, unlimited funds, and thousands of subpoenas, Mueller could find NOTHING to charge President Trump with, much to the chagrin of those suffering TDS who had pinned their hopes on this investigation in search of a crime.

      “Any grown up reading the Ukrainian shake down “transcript” from the WH can see a full blown , law school, textbook, bar exam…”

      Really? If that was true, why the Democrat charade, the lack of transparency, the inability for Republicans to call witnesses or to cross-examine without interference from Adam Schiff (all courtesies extended to the party out of power in previous impeachments)? Why don’t Democrats simply call for a vote of impeachment on what you claim is obvious? Perhaps you only define adults as those who view the world through TDS glasses.

      To see a real “full-blown, law school, textbook, bar exam” case of quid pro quo, you need only listen to Joe Biden’s account of his shakedown of Ukraine.

      Beyond being the Vice-President’s son, a Vice President that was overseeing activities in Ukraine, what were Hunter Biden’s qualifications for being hired by Burisma? Since he had zero experience in oil or Ukraine nor could he even speak the language, what do you think Burisma hoped to gain by hiring Hunter Biden?

      It is YOUR letter that is weak and the only thing Kempton nailed was another one in his hypocrisy coffin.

      • David-

        There are rules in the House. Sorry man.
        The depositions are conducted in a secure environment. The GOP made these rules.
        Sorry man.

        Oh, and the Dems have started the impeachment votes, maybe you didn’t read the paper yesterday? Maybe you didn’t read the Mueller report?
        Maybe like Trump you don’t read?
        I think even Fox tv covered this stuff— I’m sure you watch that.

        Anyway
        I’m sorry my micro aggression triggered you.

        • Why did Adam Schiff lie about his contact with the non-whistle blower?
          Why did he lie about the transcript of President Trump’s conversation with the leader of Ukraine?

          Depositions in a secure environment are fine and probably what’s best. However, disallowing Congressmen who don’t sit on the committee from viewing the evidence is NOT what’s best.

          The rules the Republicans made don’t include what Adam Schiff did, ie., telling a witness NOT to answer a question from the Republicans.

          Trey Gowdy didn’t lead the witnesses, ie., help them so that their answers would dove-tail with Democrat desires as Adam Schiff did.

          Trey Gowdy wasn’t a material fact witness in the hearing he was chairing, an activity that would be disallowed if the hearings were actually a court of law.
          In addition, if the hearings are supposed to be secret, why are the Democrats leaking information that they first frame in a way supportive of their narrative? If they’re secret, then they should remain secret until the proper time to bring the information before the public in a setting where both sides can call witnesses and ask questions without Adam Schiff interfering.
          While the Democrats are not doing anything illegal, theirs is an unfair process dissimilar to the hearings held for both Nixon and Bill Clinton. It is a discredit to the office these Congressmen were elected to fulfill.

          Considering that Democrats have been calling for Trump’s impeachment since shortly after he took office, what did you think of the lies they trumpeted claiming they took no joy in their impeachment votes? How do you take clowns like that seriously?

          Your statement, “Maybe like Trump you don’t read?”

          Donald Trump is the author of a number of books…perhaps it is YOU who doesn’t read.

          No need to be sorry, being triggered is the purvue of the SJW left.

          • Lol
            Now I’ve heard everything!
            Did you just say Trump was an author? Have you read any of them? Except for the Efforts of the ghost riders he is barely literate. It’s a common fact.

            Adam Schiff didn’t lie about anything. Do you have rolled up in smoked to Fox News talking points.

            Trey Gowdy on the other hand, was one of the ringleaders of the Benghazi bizarro world hearings that led America into exactly no indictments of anything.

          • “Did you just say Trump was an author?”

            Yes, I did, it is a matter of record.

            “Except for the Efforts of the ghost riders he is barely literate. It’s a common fact.”

            What do you base your claim on…hate? Donald Trump graduated from college, perhaps you’re unaware of that. If you widened your news sources you might become better acquainted with fact-based news.

            “It’s a common fact”, among who, those suffering TDS?
            Additionally, if you’re going to accuse someone of being “barely literate”, you might want to employ proper grammar yourself and know the difference between “ghost riders” and ghostwriters.

            A direct quote from Adam Schiff: “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.”
            From the Washington Post that quotes Adam Schiff above: “This is flat-out false. Unlike the quick two-step dance he performed with Anderson Cooper, Schiff simply says the committee had not spoken to the whistleblower. Now we know that’s not true.”

            It was through the hearings on Benghazi that we first became aware of the fact that Hillary Clinton had a private server and was illegally sending and receiving confidential emails. The hearings also demonstrated that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, failed in her duties to provide adequate security to the Ambassador who had begged her for additional security. Then she, Obama, and Susan Rice lied about the cause of the attack.

  • Oh Jim honey,

    To repeat what your dear sweet departed mother used to say to you so often, “Fat, lazy and ignorant is no way to go through life, son”. Your obvious Trump Derangement Syndrome is causing you to return to your former ways of fuzzy thinking, haven’t you embarrassed the family enough for one lifetime.

    Ask your doctor if Xanax is right for you.

    I expect to see you at Thanksgiving, Jimmy, And show up sober this time for a change, okay? Thanks, sweetie.

    Aunt Edna

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