About “Whataboutism:” When turnabout is never fair play.

About “Whataboutism:” When turnabout is never fair play. By William Vogeli.

If you condemned the Antifa/Black Lives Matter violence that took place around the country in 2020, as all conservatives did, then you must condemn the Trumpist riot at the U.S. Capitol in 2021. Period.

Suppose, however, you spent last summer applauding the riots, or dissembling about them, or dismissing them. In that case, to deplore last week’s violence credibly is not so simple. If you demand that your political adversaries adhere to a principle, but exempt people whose cause you endorse from having to comply, then that preference you enjoy boasting about is not really a principle. It is not a standard of conduct applicable to all, in other words, but just another rhetorical device used for political combat.

If you’re Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for example, a question in July about mobs toppling statues in public spaces elicited not a denunciation but a koan: “People will do what they do.” Indeed, people will do what they do. Some people, for example, will break into the Capitol and occupy the Speaker’s office. But limiting oneself to the serene observation that this is what they do would constitute a grave failure to repudiate an offense against law, order, and democracy. …

When protesters surrounded a Seattle police station, forcing officers to evacuate it, and declared the adjacent area an “autonomous zone,” mayor Jenny Durkan was reassuring: “Don’t be so afraid of democracy.” Civic and political leaders in Philadelphia were equally non-judgmental about the shattered glass and boarded stores on their streets. “I don’t think we need to be parsing whether there needs to be looting,” said one city council member. Rioting was “understandable but regrettable,” Jesse Jackson said in June, a quasi-criticism no one would think to apply to the Capitol Hill mob.

In the wake of last week’s riot, formulations like these have become deeply embarrassing. What is to be done? One option would be for the people who put them forward, and their many political allies, to admit the obvious: since riots are bad — utterly, always, and everywhere — justifying them, or praising them with faint damns, is also colossally irresponsible.

The people who set last summer’s fires, looted stores, or assaulted motorists and pedestrians should be condemned, and the people who made excuses for their behavior should be ashamed. Reader, you are borne through life with a sunnier view of human nature than I if you are dismayed that no such apologies or retractions have yet been offered.

A different response to conservatives who have started 2021 by rudely calling attention to the riot apologists of 2020 is: Shut Up. A more sophisticated way to say Shut Up is to accuse conservatives whose memories go back more than three months of engaging in “whataboutism.” …

“Whataboutism is the last refuge for someone who can’t admit they’re wrong,” says journalist Tod Perry, who demands that we “stop equating Trump’s Capitol insurrection to Black Lives Matter protests.”

The left are squirming to find some verbal formulation (“principle”) to justify BLM riots yet at the same time utterly damn the Capitol riot. They are settling on the fact that the Capitol riot interfered directly with the working of Congress. Yes, that’s different from the BLM riots, but so what? The BLM riots caused immensely more property damage, killed many more people, went on for months and months, and likewise challenged Federal authority by repeatedly attacking the Federal Courthouse in Portland. The BLM riots were implicitly encouraged by leftist figures, who still haven’t disowned them.

Yet the left are trying to say that their political violence is ok — noble even — while the political violence attributed to the right is evil and justifies any amount of sanctions. As the say, if the left didn’t have double standards then it wouldn’t have any standards at all.

The left’s position now relies on three lies. The first is what has become a foundational lie: that the 2020 presidential elections were essentially free and fair. If you believe this, then to dispute the result is to be anti-democratic and deserving of any amount of censure. That’s rich, coming from the people who probably rigged the election, refused any credible investigation into the many complaints, and got their big tech allies to censor any talk of rigging or irregularities. Nothing screams “all fair and above aboard” like no investigations, destroying the evidence as soon as possible, and banning any discussion. Move on, nothing to see here.

The second lie is that it was exclusively a right wing riot. Several indisputable left wingers have been found at the forefront of the riot, egging things on. At times, even while people were breaking windows, the crowd shouted not to break windows and that it was Antifa breaking the windows. It reeks of a set up.

The third lie is that the riot was in response to Trump’s speech. No, Trump’s speech was a 45 minute walk away and started much later than planned. The riot at the Capitol started before Trump’s speech had ended, by people who could not have heard it. The riot was pre-planned, not motivated by Trump’s speech.