The Latin words Tu Quoque literally mean “You too”.
The Tu Quoque Fallacy, put simply, is the fallacy of responding to a criticism with –
“You also do those bad things you are accusing me of doing”
– instead of actually dealing with the points of the criticism.
This deflection of criticism is a type of obfuscation that evades the responsibility of addressing the arguments put forth by the critic.
The Tu Quoque is used by the object of the criticism. Thus, if a non-Muslim criticizes a Muslim for the Islam he follows, the most common deployment of Tu Quoque comes out of the mouth of the Muslim, attempting to turn the tables of the criticism back on his accuser, the non-Muslim critic.
Now, what about the non-Muslim who defends Islam? You know the type — they are all around us in the West; indeed, I maintain they are the mainstream majority.
To explain their use of the Tu Quoque Fallacy, I have coined the term the “Ego Quoque Fallacy”. The variation Ego Quoque means literally “Me too”.
When a non-Muslim, in a dialogue with a fellow non-Muslim, criticizes Islam or Muslims, and when that fellow non-Muslim happens to be deformed by PC MC, he will tend to respond to the criticism of Islam or Muslims by jumping in to defend them with a variation on the Tu Quoque Fallacy. Since, of course, the non-Muslim is not a Muslim, but rather belongs to the same civilizational or cultural community as his fellow non-Muslim, I call his similar ploy the Ego Quoque Fallacy. It is, in effect, saying:
“Well, we also do the bad things we are accusing them of doing”
“Well, we’re no better than they are.”
This is, on the surface, a rather self-sacrificing posture, potentially noble and laudable and open-minded. In the context of PC MC, however, it lurches into the territory of the incoherent, the inane, the perverse, the hypocritical, the treasonous and the suicidal — particularly when the object of the criticism (Islam) is an outrageously anti-liberal system which is nourishing innumerable fanatics around the globe who want to destroy us if they cannot subjugate us to their evil totalitarianism.
Thus, in our politically correct times, we commonly encounter the normal perversity of a non-Muslim Westerner coming righteously to the defense of Islam and Muslims whenever they are criticized, by employing the Ego Quoque Fallacy – usually manifested in various questions meant to be self-evidently rhetorical:
What about the Crusades?
What about the Spanish Inquisition?
What about the witch-burnings?
What about Christian wars of religion?
What about slavery?
What about Western Colonialism?
What about Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
What about Vietnam?
What about the “genocide” of the American Indians?
What about Abu Ghraib?
Etc., ad nauseam.
Indeed, President Obama did exactly this in his speech on April 6, 2009, before the parliament of Turkey when, in the context of the subject of the attempted genocide of Armenians by Turks which he with gingerly (yet transparent) adroitness sidestepped, he invoked “the legacy of our past treatment of Native Americans.”
The purpose of these falsely rhetorical questions, of course, is to counter the criticism of Islam and Muslims by saying, “We the West have been just as bad, so who are we to throw stones…?” The fundamental incoherence of this tactic rarely dawns on the person using it: Is he saying that we used to be as bad as Muslims, but are no longer? — in which case why does he maintain opposition to our criticism of Islam? And does this not matter?
Or is he saying that we are still as bad? On what basis then does he believe in any ethic worth pursuing sociopolitically, if he thinks everybody, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, are equally bad? On what basis is ethical progress to be pursued when all sides are equally bad? Where does the blueprint for progress come from?
The answer to that last question can not be rendered coherently when we try to explain our fellow PC MCs, for their heads and hearts are in a muddle about this. For our fellow Leftists, however, the question acquires increasing clarity the more radical they are (leading to the fork of Leftist Fascism or Leftist Communism): the blueprint for progress in their case derives from the utopian complex of modern Gnosticism, which seeks to destroy their own wicked West and replace it with, or transfigure it into, an immanentized eschaton. Beyond Leftist Revolution against the West lies a further, ultimate position, which may be crystallizing in our time: conversion to Islam — i.e., joining the Jihad against one’s own West. The Leftist terrorist of the 80s, “Carlos the Jackal”, for example, has precisely discovered this sublime way to express the self-hate he has been cultivating all his life. In his special prison cell outside Paris, he has converted to Islam, and has written a book about how the Communist ideal for world transformation is best realized through Islam.
At this juncture is where another twist on the Tu Quoque Fallacy is illuminated, for which I came up with a second coinage: the Ego Peior Fallacy. The word “peior” in Latin means “worse”. The term thus means, effectively:
“We are worse than they are”.
The Ego Peior is the ulterior position beneath the incoherence of the Eqo Quoque. No longer is the PC MC Westerner trying to argue that “We are just as bad as they are”. What he really intends is something even stranger: “We are actually worse than they are.”
Thus, often those who employ the Ego Quoque are not merely positing a level playing field of “Well, we are just as bad as they are”. Oftentimes what is lurking beneath the apparent equivalency of the Ego Quoque is the deeper Ego Peior — “We are worse than they are.”
The logical conclusion of this pathos can only be either to willingly submit as dhimmis to the superior civilization of Islam, or to convert to Islam and join the Jihad against one’s own worse West.
This, however, is an option — psychologically and subculturally — only for the disaffected Leftists of the West; the PC MCs of the West tend to prefer to try to maintain an incoherent balance between cultivating a glibly profound self-hatred and self-shame of their own West, while at the same time blithely enjoying — and even sustaining — its advantages.
The Ego Peior beneath the Ego Quoque is fundamentally incoherent, and the clearest formulation that can be wrested from it is the startling, and absurd, paradox I discovered to lie at the heart of Montaigne’s self-critique of his own West:
“We are worse because we are better.”
The fundamental incoherence of Ego Quoque can be kept in suspense virtually forever, as the interlocutor deploys other diversionary tactics either out of a muddled head deformed by PC MC, or out of a darker antipathy to the West that festers in Leftism.
In sum, the Tu Quoque/Ego Quoque/Ego Peior Complex does not really even rise to the level of a logical fallacy: it resembles more the elementary tactic of childish evasion, further warped by the neurosis of PC MC, or the psychosis of Leftism. All these deficiencies do not, however, prevent it from being used regularly and nearly universally, among our millions of fellow Westerners whenever one has the impertinence of raising criticisms of Islam and of its followers.
For an extended analysis of the Tu Quoque/Ego Quoque/Ego Peior complex, see my essay on Montaigne.