Regular readers of this blog will recall that I’ve written of a grievance hierarchy, where competing identity groups sort themselves (or are sorted by the progressive taste-makers) into a sort of dog-pile, with those on top getting more protection and deference than those in lower tiers. One of the more mystifying rankings in this hierarchy is that granted to Islam, despite its illiberal beliefs regarding women, gays, atheists, and those of other religions (especially Jews). Its primacy in the hierarchy was quite clearly demonstrated in the aftermath of the Orlando night club shooting in 2016, and the deference granted by many members of the Democratic Party to hate-mongers such as Louis Farrakhan and Linda Sarsour affirms that continued degree of deference.

Voters in Minneapolis recently elected Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born Muslim woman, to represent them in Congress. Ms. Omar has “stepped in it,” so to speak, with a number of comments and tweets that most rational observers would deem anti-Semitic. She walked back and apologized for some, but coughed up some more afterward, and thus proved that forced public apologies are usually as trustworthy as gas station sushi. House Democrats, already in fracture and damage control mode because of the runaway train that is progressive it-girl Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are looking to take a “floor action” in response to Omar’s improprieties.

AOC isn’t having any of it. She’s voicing opposition to this floor action with a flood of whataboutisms. In doing so, she reveals certain truths she might prefer to keep hidden.

It’s clear that AOC understands and prioritizes partisan politics. Her recent threats aimed at party moderates who dared to cross the aisle showed it, and this Omar business tells us that she’s working to build the power of the Dems’ progressive wing within the party.

It’s also a signal that she may share some of Omar’s anti-Israel and anti-semitic views. This is what whataboutism often tells us: that someone sees a problem with an opinion or behavior, but holds to that opinion or behavior anyway and doesn’t want to concede its unsoundness. If it were defensible on its merits, or if defending it wasn’t politically risky, whataboutism would not be necessary.

So, I’d challenge AOC’s deflections by suggesting a – that if a censure of Omar was justified, it should be passed on its own merits, and without relativism, and b – that the only way things get better is if every group cleans its own house before casting stones at another.

But, for those to happen, AOC would have to actually disagree with Omar, or, at a minimum, to put principle over zero-sum partisanship. After all, she’s asserted that it’s most important to be morally right.

That her response to all this was a wave of whataboutism tells us she’s just another arrogant, self-centered, unprincipled politician. Or (well, and/or) that she actually agrees with Omar and doesn’t want her censured, but knows well enough that she can’t say so out loud.

The lesson, apart from its insights into AOC’s reality, is to dig into the motives of those who engage in whataboutism, and not just point out its emptiness as a defense or counterargument. Learning your foes’ dirty secrets is never a bad thing.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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