“Hey, I see you talking about this! I’m now going to argue you’re a terrible person who can’t be taken seriously because you didn’t talk about this other thing” is a rhetorical technique I saw today applied to someone who was warning about genocidal rhetoric from the leader of a country with a recent history of genocide.
Let’s call it weaponized whataboutism: The validity or veracity or relevance of an argument, comment, position or critique is entirely a function of what someone else thinks you should care about.
It is a close cousin of “some of my best friends are black” and “I don’t mind protests but causing traffic is bridge too far” or “I’d support your cause if you didn’t make me feel like I was part of the problem.”
If you’re not in multiple overlapping WhatsApp groups with relatives across geographical and generational lines then it’s more than likely your understanding of what counts as the atomic unit of family stops at a single household.
If you’ve never been poor and neither have any of your friends or funders perhaps you’ll embrace and gentrify the idea of buy now pay later and shortly after confidently declare that video games that require $$$ outlays to slightly improve the odds of making $$ that you might or might not be able to convert into $ is “a major innovation that could help billions of people”.
How do you remember who you are and where you came from and how you got here and where you’re trying to be?
These are the seasons Persephone promised
as she turned on her heel—
the ones that darken, till green no longer
bandages what I feel.
—from Chain of Women by Annie Finch