Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Whatabout the workers & the waterbeds?




There was once a Punjabi

who had a Muhajir friend.

Together they made Pakistan

to f**k the rest of them.

They killed the Sindhi,

and raped the tongue Pushtu.

They butchered the Gujurati language

and mocked the Marwari too.

They cleansed the Sikh from Nankana,

and from Indu chased out the Hindu.

As the Goan Catholics fled the Pure,

The Zoroastrians too could not endure.

And when I asked the two, ‘Why?’

They said in unison, “Because they wanted to die.”

“Tell me,” I said, “isn’t that a lie?”

But “whatabout this?” and “whatabout that?” they cry.

“Whatabout what?” I ask.

“Whatabout Gaza?” they say.

They insist, “Only Gaza matters.”

To the slaves, I say, “Mulla Dho Pyaza.”

In fury they say, “That doesn't make sense.”

As if it did to sell Baloch blood for a penny.

“Whatabout Iraq?” they insist.

And in cycles they go as they persist.
     - By Tarek Fatah

 [Admin: This poem is about the Punjabi Muslim oppression of all other Pakistanis. More specifically, it is about the Punjabi Muslim use of whataboutist arguments, if they are actually arguments, to assuage their guilt over their victims.]
Recently I wrote a piece about contemporary young Communists and Trotskyists and I asked the question: What are they are rebelling against? It had nothing to do with how many people died under Communism; at least, not directly (see the piece below*). 

One person responded to my piece with a classic example of Leftist whataboutism. That is, the tendency of the average Leftist to assume that if you are against X, then you simply must support - or be in favour of - X, Y and God knows what else. To put this another way. When you state your case against a Leftist or Islamic belief, or against an act of Islamoterrorism or whatever, the Leftist will invariably say:

Well what about… ?

i) So if you’re talking about current Islamic slavery, he’ll ask: Whatabout British slavery in the 18th century?
ii) If you talk about Islamoterrorists quoting passages from the Koran today, he’ll ask: Whatabout the violent passages in the Old Testament? 

iii) Or if you talk about the Soviet Gulag, he’ll ask: Whatabout the crimes of Nazism?

The infantile assumption throughout all of this is that if you criticise X, or support X, then you must support Y and Z too or it’s your duty to criticise Y or Z as well. In theory, that would mean that if you criticise X, then you must also criticise everything else that is humanly criticisable. Even when the criticisable subjects are connected in some way to your original subject, it would still mean that the Leftist must (implicitly) assume that you should have criticised innumerable other things as well. This would have had the consequence, if the Leftist’s position had been followed, that you would have written something else entirely; which is precisely what the Leftist wanted all along!

I suppose that in a certain way whataboutist statements can be acceptable. For example, when you hear people going on about Guantanamo Bay all the time you can ask: 

Whatabout the far worse torture-regimes found throughout the Muslim world? Muslims are only against torture when it they who being tortured. And they are tortured in far worse ways by their own co-religionists.

However, that should only really be a secondary or subsidiary point. It’s not a substitute for actually confronting what your opponent has actually said or argued. 

Again on Guantanamo Bay, you could say (instead of using any whataboutist statements): 

Not many Muslims have been tortured. Sometimes force is acceptable if it is used to gain life-saving information. In the Islamic world, other the hand, torture is used simply as punishment or even as a form of sharia pleasure. In any case, why should I accept a single word these Islamists and terrorists say? Is there any better time and opportunity for these Muslims to use Islamic taqiyya?

Only then, as a subsidiary or secondary argument, should someone say: 

Whatabout the extensive us of torture in every Muslim/Islamic state? And whatabout the use of torture by those Islamists and Islamoterrorists who also reject all actually-existing Muslim/Islamic states?


Torture is built into sharia law. Torture is a religious duty in Islam. It’s just the torture of Muslims by the kuffar that these Guantanamo Bay loudmouths are really against.
Emil Pizorn: How many people died under Vatican torture?

    English Defence League Extra (EDL) [page & blog]: Eh???? How large is the average adult rabbit?

        Emil Pizorn: How many people died as a result of British slavery? How many people died under other totalitarian [regimes]?
    English Defence League Extra (EDL) [page & blog]: Emil, less people died in the Catholic Inquisition than die in one year’s worth of today's Global Jihad. How many died because of British slavery? I don't see many British demonstrators with banners advocating slavery - do you? Why do I need to talk about, let alone defend, a slave system that ended over 200 years ago?( It still exists in many Muslim/Islamic countries.) Many more died under Soviet totalitarianism than under Nazism - but if you factor in WW2 - they equalise... What is this - typical WHATABOUTISM? What about what the British did in 1832 or the Church did in 1234? It's pathetic!
English Defence League Extra (EDL) [page & blog]: WHATABOUT the price of fish? Whatabout the European Wars of Religion in the 15th/16 centuries? Whatabout you being RELEVANT?
*) Note:

The piece which initiated the whataboutist conversation:

What, exactly, are these young Commies/Trots rebelling against?



That photo above was taken in Wigan. Amazing. But what's even more amazing is that it was taken in 2013 - this year! What the hell's going on here? They may as well be demonstrating against workhouses of British slavery.

I think that many these young “rebels”, overwhelmingly middle-class students, think they are rebelling by being Communists or Trotskyists. Some other young rebels, usually not students and not middle class, have rebelled in better, newer, or at least in more genuinely rebellious ways.

It’s strange that white middle-class students still rebel in this way. Both Communism and Trotskyism (plus other Leftist offshoots) have been very prominent in Europe and American for over 60 years. (Trotskyism more in the last 30 to 40 years.) Leftists have taken over many parts of many universities, parts of the BBC, parts of the churches, many parts of local councils, etc. The Left also rules many of Antonio Gramsci's "hegemonic institutions” from the law to the charities to “rights groups”.

The even more bizarre thing is that many – but not all – of the parents of these young Trotskyists and, less so, Communists, were probably Commies/Trots at university as well! How can you rebel against parents who believe largely the same things as you? (Though the parents won’t dress in the same way or listen to the same music as their kids.) In fact, their parents are probably still Trots of some kind - though they won't march and shout as much as the rich kids in the photo anymore. They don't need to. A large part of the their Establishment is already Leftist!

Many Labour Party bigwigs were former Communists at university. But why be a member of a group like the SWP-UAF, etc. when you can become the Government, or just the Opposition, and do far more damage – or “radical change” - to the UK? Groups like the SWP-UAF, etc. are probably seen as playground revolutionaries by those Trots/Communists/socialists at the top; whether Gareth Peirce the Trotskyist super-lawyer or all those "ex-communists" in the Labour Party. In fact, many upper-middle-class Trotskyist professionals, such as lawyers and "rights activists", may think that all the noise and bother of Street Trotskyists like the SWP-UAF actually sets radicalisation and even revolution back somewhat. After all, Gramsci explicitly stated, over 70 years ago, that a revolution in society - and even in the state! - can come about without violence or without blood on the streets (although this seemed to upset him).

The old 19th-century or Bolshevik notion of “storming the barricades” is dead. Such a thing only appeals to those Leftist activists (of which there are many) who really prefer the violence-bit to the actual revolution/radicalisation-bit. (That is, many Leftists like violence but for some reason or other they feel the need to tart that fact up with "a bit of politics".)

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