And you are lynching Negroes

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1930 print in Bezbozhnik, the Soviet magazine, showing a Black American being lynched, hanging from the Statue of Liberty

"And you are lynching Negroes" (Russian: "А у вас негров линчуют", A u vas negrov linchuyut, "And at your place, they are lynching Negroes") and the later "And you are hanging blacks" (Russian: "А у вас негров вешают") are anecdotal counter-argument phrases which typify the arguments used by the Soviet Union in response to criticisms of its politics.[1] The phrase refers to attempts to deflect criticism, e.g. by referencing racial discrimination and lynching in the United States, —a propaganda tactic which has also been known in the West as the whataboutism.[2]

History[edit]

The use of the phrase as a reference to demagoguery and hypocrisy is traced to a Russian political joke, about a dispute between an American and a Soviet man.[3] In a 1962 version, an American and a Soviet car salesman argue which country makes better cars. Finally, the American asks: "How many decades does it take an average Soviet man to earn enough money to buy a Soviet car?" After a thoughtful pause, the Soviet replies: "And you are lynching Negroes!"[4][5]

A slightly different version is cited by The Economist:[2] "A caller to a radio program asks, “What is the average wage of an American manual worker?” A long pause ensues. Then the answer comes: “U nikh negrov linchuyut” (“Over there they lynch Negroes”)

Variants[edit]

Similar phrases are used in the languages of Eastern Europe, in different variants.

  • Czech: A vy zase bijete černochy![6] (Literally, "And, in turn, you beat up blacks!")
  • Hungarian: Amerikában (pedig) verik a négereket (Literally, "And in America, they beat up Negroes")[7]
  • Polish: A u was Murzynów biją![8] (Literally, "And at your place, they beat up Negroes!")
  • Romanian: Da, dar voi linșați negrii![9] (Literally, "Yes, but you are lynching Negroes!")

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lucas, Edward (2009). The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces Both Russia and the West. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 307. 
  2. ^ a b Whataboutism, The Economist, January 31, 2008
  3. ^ (Russian) "Your Letters", at Radio Liberty
  4. ^ The Sideways Institute
  5. ^ Dora Shturman, Sergei Tiktin (1985) "Sovetskii Soiuz v zerkale politicheskogo anekdota" ("Soviet Union in the Mirror of the Political Joke"), Overseas Publications Interchange Ltd., London, ISBN 0-903868-62-8, p. 58 (Russian)
  6. ^ "Nepoučitelný Topolánek" (Czech)
  7. ^ "A pragmatikus szocializmus évtizedei"(Hungarian)
  8. ^ "Gdzie Murzynów biją albo racjonalizm na cenzurowanym" (Polish)
  9. ^ Ștefan Cazimir, "Acordul de la Peleș", România Literară, 1/2002 (Romanian)