Saturday, June 10, 2017

You'll never beat the Irish

In the Wall Street Journal ($), Ben Zimmer with a reminder that the now-common term Whataboutery, often seen as a Russian media/ troll tactic, actually originated in a different era, from the opinion section of the then troll-free Irish Times --

On Jan. 30, 1974, the Irish Times published a letter to the editor from Sean O'Conaill, a history teacher from the town of Coleraine in Northern Ireland. Mr. O'Conaill wrote of "the Whatabouts," his name for "the people who answer every condemnation of the Provisional I.R.A. with an argument to prove the greater immorality of the 'enemy.' "

Three days later, in the same newspaper, John Healy picked up the theme in his "Backbencher" column, citing Mr. O'Conaill's letter. "We have a bellyful of Whataboutery in these killing days, and the one clear fact to emerge is that people, Orange and Green, are dying as a result of it," he wrote.

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