Word: Whataboutism

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 8 04:20:15 UTC 2014

A recent article in The Guardian (UK) used the term "whataboutism" and
pointed to a 2008 article in The Economist for an explanation.

Newspaper Website: The Guardian
Date: February 4, 2014
Article title: Russia's anti-gay law is wrong - but so is some of the
criticism from the west
Author: Marc Bennetts


Periodical: The Economist
Date: January 31, 2008
Article title: Whataboutism

[Begin excerpt]
SOVIET propagandists during the cold war were trained in a tactic that
their western interlocutors nicknamed "whataboutism". Any criticism of
the Soviet Union (Afghanistan, martial law in Poland, imprisonment of
dissidents, censorship) was met with a "What about..." (apartheid
South Africa, jailed trade-unionists, the Contras in Nicaragua, and so

It is not a bad tactic. Every criticism needs to be put in a
historical and geographical context.
[End excerpt]

Wikipedia created an entry for Whataboutism on May 16, 2012. Here is a link:


I did not see the word in the ADS-L archives, Wordspy, or Barry
Popik's website. I haven't tried to look for early occurrences.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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