One consistent tactic used when criticized is “whataboutism.” When people do something harmful, they point a finger at someone else to avoid responding to the concern. Is it OK to lie, cheat or steal because other people do?
Whataboutism, also known as whataboutery, is not new. However, whataboutism is a word being watched by Merriam-Webster. It has been extensively used by Russian propagandists and dictators such as Putin and his supporters. It is used to deflect conversation by implying hypocrisy without addressing the action.
It is extensively tweeted by President Trump and used by his supporters to get more power and money for a few greedy oligarchs, without regard for the consequences to the rest of the people. It is one of several forms of bullying speech (BS) used to try to crush opponents to avoid accountability. It is often accompanied by other BS such as bashing speech, badmouthing speech and belittling speech.
A response I use is what I think of as “whatifism”: an inquiry/investigation technique. I ask a question that has no “right” or predetermined answer. I then begin an investigation to find facts to support or refute an issue about HDR fundamental values: Human rights, representative Democracy and critical Resources. Facts are then shared for further investigation. It is a way to hold people, including me, accountable. I call this strategy “grassroots accountability using 2020 hindsight.”
In the future, I hope to see more facts from inquiries and investigations shared in the Letters to the Editor section instead of meaningless bullying speech. Maybe then our public schools and communities can work together more effectively for improvement.
I was an independent and recently joined the Door County Democrats because they fight for public schools and communities’ HDR values. Please join us and volunteer at the new Democratic office in Sturgeon Bay.
Carole Vande Walle
Fish Creek, Wisconsin