If you criticise other people for doing bad things and then you do something even more terrible, you are much worse for it. From Hong Kong’s perspective, that’s the position the United States is in. US police forces have long been accused of racism and brutality – against civilians. Now we can watch such acts on live television. But when critics in Hong Kong and other places point out the double standards of American politicians, they are often accused of “whataboutism”. Also called a Tu quoque argument, it’s supposedly a logical fallacy that goes like this: I’m guilty? What about you?! Therefore, I am not guilty. Of course, it’s only a fallacy if you draw the conclusion. If you stop at the middle proposition, you are merely expressing an outrage, usually at a blatant hypocrisy, and may be perfectly justified. Everyone can see how security forces across the US use batons, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and even live rounds against protesters and bystanders. The protests are not even a week old and the US government has already deployed the military. You loot, we shoot, the US president himself has tweeted . ‘Acts of domestic terror’: Trump threatens military force to end US protests Dozens of journalists have also been targeted by security forces with tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. A CNN crew was arrested on live TV. Police vehicles have been videoed ramming into crowds of protesters. Why are these relevant to Hong Kong? Well, they have to do with Washington’s holier-than-thou criticism of local police and the government’s handling of violent protests from last year as well as “punishments” it is now considering against the city. Remember this: it’s only whataboutism if someone argues BECAUSE American security forces are brutal, criticism of Hong Kong police’s excessive use of force against protesters is THEREFORE false. Or local protesters ought to be happy to deal with Hong Kong police rather than deadly US police. I know of no serious critics who have argued like that. These are straw man arguments of whataboutism claimed by US apologists in the city. It’s not whataboutism if you point out America is in no position to judge Hong Kong, or that local opposition leaders are being blind, dumb or even traitorous for encouraging America to sit in judgment of us. When scoundrels are also hypocrites, they level charges of whataboutism to demand immunity from criticism while criticising others.