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aka: Straw Traitor
"Blood-traitor is next to Mudblood in my book."
Bob belongs to a certain group, or at least Alice considers him to belong to it. And thus she demands that he stay "loyal" to this group. It's beside the point whether or not the group actually exists as a relevant group and whether Bob actually sympathizes with it or not
And thus, Alice will consider Bob a "traitor" or similar whenever he does something she considers to be against the group. This also includes anything that might be beneficial to any other group, based on the assumption that helping others is the same as damaging the group. She gets to decide what's good for the category, and she assumes any disagreement comes from treachery. Note that words such as "traitor" or "betrayer" do not necessarily have to be invoked, as long as Alice makes her position clear one way or another.
This group can
be exactly anything. In real life, psychological experiments have shown that people can quickly be made to develop group identity over any
dividing lines, no matter how arbitrary and superficial. However, some dividers are more common than others. The classics are race
, religion and what sports team you're cheering for
. "Uncle Tom
" is a common mainstream term for people who are perceived as betraying their own group in order to gain the favor of an outside, usually more powerful, group.
Branding someone a Category Traitor is usually Serious Business
... at least for the character who does it, even if the narrative doesn't agree — the accuser can be portrayed as justified or at least as a good kind of bigot, but can also be portrayed as a Strawman Political
or someone doing Activist Fundamentalist Antics
. In either case, being branded as a Category Traitor might cause Internalized Categorism
. In cases where the accusation itself is an obvious strawman
, this trope can be called Straw Traitor
. A Cultural Rebel
is especially prone to being branded as a Category Traitor. Can bring up accusations of being a Hypocrite
or otherwise) on Alice's part, especially if Alice's category normally stresses the importance of things such as freedom and individuality (the obvious implication being that Alice hypocritically only pays lip service to these values).
Usually overlaps with With Us or Against Us
, when Alice gives Bob an ultimatum regarding whatever activities he may be doing that Alice considers traitorous. Often includes the use of an Outside Inside Slur
. Compare Boomerang Bigot
and The Whitest Black Guy
This is not an Audience Reaction entry: only examples where one character is in-universe accused of betraying his category are allowed. Whether or not the accusation is portrayed as justified is worth mentioning, but not relevant to whether or not it counts as an example.
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Anime And Manga
- In Code Geass, some Japanese people consider "honorary Britannians" like Suzaku to lack dignity for having sought honorary citizenship from an occupying conqueror. Doesn't help that only a handful of Britannians are ever shown treating the Honorary Britannians with any respect.
- In Gundam SEED, of course ZAFT considers Kira a traitor because he fights for Earth while being a genetically modified Coordinator, but even his friends question his engagement sometimes. This mostly comes from the genocidal Patrick Zala, who also considers Lacus and other Coordinators that don't want the genocide of all Naturals this. Athrun thinks Kira is being manipulated instead, and nobody else in ZAFT knows Kira is actually a Coordinator. They think he's just a very good natural that can pilot a mobile suit.
- One the flipside, the leadership of Blue Cosmos and LOGOS consider Naturals who have anything to do with Coordinators to be traitors. Lord Djibril epitomizes this, employed weapons of mass destruction against Naturals who even except protection from ZAFT.
- In Digimon Tamers the Devas and their master consider any digimon who partners with a human (or for some, who have ever been partnered with a human) to be traitors to their kind.
- In Pandora Hearts Retrace LXXIX, Glen deems Gilbert as one of these to the Baskerville family when the latter defies the former by using Raven to burn off his arm with the seal that controls him and then declaring his loyalty to Oz before escaping with him.
- In Avatar, the humans are invading the planet Pandora. Destroying the environment and escalating their hostility against the native Na'vi population towards genocidal proportions. When the human protagonist lives among the aliens as one of them - using the titular Avatar technology - he begins to sympathize with their cause and ultimately decides to become a Na'vi and help them fight his fellow humans. Colonel Quaritch accuses him of "betraying his species."
- In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy accuses Mola Ram of betraying Shiva - a deity that neither of them worshiped. Mola Ram was a priest of Kali, who in this particular setting seem to be the evil half of a black and white dualism, locked in eternal battle with the good deity Shiva. However, Indy is actually saying the phrase in order to activate a defense mechanism in the stones that will cause them to turn against Mola Ram, so its more a case of Indy Ploy here if nothing else.
- In The Birth of a Nation, the "radical republicans" are implied to have betrayed the white race, especially with Stoneman himself having an extramarital affair with a black woman - leading him to give power to the evil mulatto who later tries to rape his daughter.
- Django Unchained:
- According to Django, there is no form of life lower than a black slaver.
- Stephen (Candie's house slave) is also portrayed as one of these; treating the other slaves with cruelty while enjoying a (relatively) comfortable life.
- In Pretty in Pink, "richie" Blaine dates Andie, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. When he takes her to a party at a large house, his friend Steff calls him out on it.
Steff: Nobody appreciates your sense of humor, you know. As a matter of fact, everyone's just about to puke from you. If you've got a hard-on for trash, don't take care of it around us."
- In the Holocaust docudrama Conspiracy, some of the Nazi officials are concerned with the plight of German spouses of the German Jews they want to murder when those people's husbands and wives are taken away. Others counter that they feel they're "race traitors" anyway and should be treated as such. SS General Heinrich Mueller goes so far as to say that he'd happily throw them all on the same transport if it were up to him.
- There's a clear example of this in Chasing Amy when, after a conversation where she's joking around with her friends, Alyssa tells them she's dating a man.
*after the room goes silent* Friend: Well, we lost another one.
- Within Our Gates, one of the earliest surviving feature films made by a black director (Oscar Micheaux), features "Old Ned", the preacher who grovels to white folks and says that black folks should know their place. He tells his congregation that blacks shouldn't worry about things like education and the vote because they're going to heaven. In private, he feels ashamed.
'Ned: Again, I've sold my birthright. All for a miserable mess of pottage. Negroes and Whites - all are equal. As for me, miserable sinner, hell is my destiny.
- In Margaret Coel's The Eagle Catcher, a woman accuses Father John of being "White on the outside, Indian on the inside" because he didn't (even try to) talk her daughter out of marrying an Arapaho.
- Harry Potter:
- The Death-Eaters consider wizardry to be in the blood. They also feel that all "real" wizards are obliged to be "loyal" to "their own kind," and thus despise Muggles, as well as wizards with direct Muggle ancestry (who are derisively termed "mudbloods"). Wizards who are from pureblood backgrounds, but don't hate Muggles and Muggle-born wizards, they refer to as "Blood Traitors."
- In this case the trope is actually eating itself; Arthur Weasley and Sirius Black both point out that thanks to blood purism, pretty much all pureblooded wizards are related to a greater or lesser degree and therefore any attempt to maintain blood purity is doomed to eventually if not immediately die out thanks to homozygosity. Also a matter of hypocrisy; the Death Eaters usually have some Muggle relations, out of necessity if nothing else. These inconvenient branches of the family tree are often stricken from the record. Voldemort himself has a Muggle father, though Death Eaters who know this ignore it because they revere him so damn much/don't want to be Avada Kedavra'd.
- In an interesting look at things, even wizards who aren't Death Eaters have negative opinions on wizards who are a little too interested with Muggle affairs. Arthur Weasley is implied to be passed up for promotions (and subsequently means by which to provide better for his family) because of his unnerving enthusiasm for anything Muggle-related, which even the Minister Of Magic sees as disgraceful. Dumbledore also gets some grief for reading Muggle newspapers.
- And Molly Weasley has a second cousin who's an accountant, but the family "never talk about him." Mentioned early in the first book, this may be more of a throwaway joke than an indication of the family's actual attitudes, especially given how fascinated Arthur (and, to a much lesser degree, Ron) are by Muggles.
- Dora Wilk Series:
- Joshua is considered this by his peers, as he's an angel who keeps company of devil and witch. While his grandfather (his only family) seems only a little distressed by the fact, Archangel Raphael's faction tries to murder him a few times, as Raphael is Fantastic Racist.
- Dora gets her share of it as well, being a witch who keep company of devil and angel (magicals and christians have long history of wars, the latest of which was barely three thousand years ago - not a long time for such a long-living folk). It's weaker than in Joshua's case, though.
- Subverted in case of Miron, the devil part of the Trio. Hellians find his choice of company a bit weird, but generally don't mind.
- Huckleberry Finn's father (an uneducated, coarse slob) berated his son for taking up reading and doing quite well, because all their family were illiterate prior to that moment. He even goes so far as outright calling his son a traitor.
- In Ellison's Invisible Man, Lucius Brockway accuses the narrator of being a traitor to him and Liberty Paints when he walks out of a union meeting. The Narrator, a young man who just wants to get by, wanted nothing to do with the company's politics and stumbled into the union meeting on accident. It takes the Narrator literally beating some sense into Lucius to convince him otherwise.
- In Spock's World, McCoy calls a Vulcan writer and eventually all of them on violating the teachings of their planetary hero, Surak.
- Brett in The Truth of Rock and Roll considers Johnny to be this for dating a girl from the trailer park and treating her too well. Using her for sex would have been okay, but treating her like she's "as good as us" (they're both from "the Heights", a rich part of town) might give her ideas above her station.
- The Turner Diaries is built on this trope: The base premise is that being white without being a Nazi is a crime, the Moral Event Horizon of "betraying" your race.
Live Action TV
- Seen in Coupling where Sally accuses a gay man of being a traitor because he supports the Conservatives.
- In an earlier episode of Six Feet Under Keith accuses the then-closeted David of acting in a way that betrays other gay people, and David retorts that a lot of African Americans would say the same of him for being in the LAPD. Keith responds badly to that comment.
- Though no one has accused him directly, Merlin from Merlin has come up against several magical-users, both allies and enemies, who have suggested that he is a traitor (or at least hugely misguided) in supporting King Uther's anti-magical regime (he's not, he's just biding his time until Arthur is king). Although once Arthur does become king, things don't actually change for magic users and Merlin doesn't make much of an effort to change things.
- The team in Alphas has been accused of this by other alphas for helping track them down and hand them over to the Department of Defense, where they face indefinite imprisonment. Some members of the team clearly worry about this themselves.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- "Second Skin". Major Kira is captured by the all-powerful and much feared Obsidian Order as part of a convoluted plan by top-level agent Entek to destroy the Dissident Movement which is seeking to free Cardassia from the grip of the Order and the military. The only way the crew locate and rescue her is via Garak's help. When Entek realises Garak is helping Starfleet and the Bajoran Government to rescue Kira (and the Dissident leader he was trying to expose), he's absolutely baffled. Even though Garak's in exile for an unspecified crime, Entek still finds it incomprehensible that Garak would betray the Obisidian Order to save a Bajoran and a Dissident and warns Garak the Order will end his exile by killing him for this. It doesn't end well. For Entek, that is.
- Kira gets some of the same treatment early on in the series for working as the Bajoran liaison with Starfleet. She's there only reluctantly because she wants to make sure Starfleet's assistance to Bajor is on Bajoran terms, since the decision to call in Starfleet was made well above her pay grade. Despite this, one of her former comrades in the Resistance openly accuses her of being a traitor and selling out to a new occupying force right after helping kick the previous one off Bajor.
- Kira gets a lot of this. When the Dominion takes over DS9, Kira stays on to try to limit the damage the occupation can do while waiting for the Federation counterattack to take back the station. This time, nobody accuses her directly of being a traitor; she herself realizes that despite her good intentions, she's become nothing more than a collaborator and secretly founds La Résistance.
- Babylon 5 uses this trope over and over again.
- The evil dictatorship that takes over the Earth argues that anyone who is pro-human should support them, and therefore that anyone who opposes them is anti-human.
- The Psi Corps does the same for telepaths.
- The Minbari have a civil war, with the Warrior Caste and the Religious Caste each accusing the other of being category traitors to the Minbari, and anyone who tried to de-escalate the civil war of being a category traitor to their caste. Delenn takes over the religious caste, wins, but then hands power over to the Worker Caste, the ones who actually represent the base of the Minbari people and keep getting caught up in the middle when the Religious and Warrior castes quarrel with each other.
- True Blood uses this one a lot as well. Faeries, werewolves, shifters, witches, all have characters who march in, declare what's best for their race, and immediately attack anyone who disagrees as a category traitor. Vampires have it both ways: the Authority insists that anyone who opposes peaceful vampire/human coexistence is a traitor to all vampires, and the Sanguinistas claim the same thing about people who support peaceful co-existence.
- In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, we have disgusting white supremacists whose entire dialogue makes one want to puke. This includes the undercover agent in their ranks. Of course, they take it to an extreme conclusion when the youngest Nazi shot the witness, the judge and two of the main cast, the latter who lived, for being Race Traitors.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
- In the first episode Will tries to pull this on Uncle Phil by claiming that since becoming rich, he's forgotten what it's like to live in the hood. This backfires on Will when Phil angrily informs him that growing up, he faced bigotry and challenges far worse than anything Will could ever imagine, and that it was those memories that drove him to become a successful lawyer in the first place.
- A later episode has Phil's mother calling him out on the same issue, this time for betraying his roots as a country farm boy by acting as though his youth was an adversity he'd had to overcome, rather than the source of his moral fiber and strong work ethic that informed his success.
- In another episode, Will and Carlton try to join a black fraternity on campus. The latter is especially treated hard throughout Pledge Week. Top Dog, the leader of the fraternity, eventually reveals out that he had no intention of taking Carlton in because of how preppy and rich he is, though they still offer Will a spot (which, obviously, he declines). When Carlton founds out the truth, he calls Top Dog out for his ignorance.
- Will isn't the only person who's tried to call Phil out for this. When an old activist friend implies that he's somehow less black because of his comfortable lifestyle, Phil bluntly reminds her that he was there with her when Harlem was burned, that he's repeatedly used his legal practice to fight for civil rights and affirmative action, and that he uses his fortune to help sponsor activist causes for the black community.
- In another episode, Phil himself thinks that he is this to his old neigborhood after revisiting the small apartment he and his family once lived in back when he was a fiery idealistic young lawyer working for peanuts while offering legal aid. He wonders if becoming a judge who lives in a mansion in Bel-Air made him lose that fire.
- On Seinfeld, little people who wear lifts in their shoes to seem taller are treated this way by other little people, which causes Mickey a great deal of trouble in "The Stand-In" when he is forced to get lifts so that he can keep his job as a stand-in for a child actor who had just hit a growth spurt.
Mickey: You don't understand. There's an unwritten code about this kind of thing. I could be ostracized. I remember when I was a kid, some guy tried to heighten. He lost his job, lost his friends, everything. Oh, I knew I was crazy to try this kind of thing, but I was so desperate!
- The Boondocks:
- Surprisingly averted. While Strawman Political characters abound, particularly black ones, never at any point do any of the characters seriously suggest that the others are race traitors. Even Uncle Ruckus, a self-hating black man who constantly expounds upon the joys of Caucasian-hood, is never rejected by his friends however misguided and extreme his actions become.
- Occurs in the Trial of R. Kelly where Tom is accused of being a self-hating black man because he's married to a white woman. However, he's accused of this by the white defense attorney.
- Appears a few times in ''The Space Gypsy Adventures''. DC Bones, as well as being a Federal Alliance officer, is also a Space Gypsy, like protagonist Gemma. This doubles as a Morton's Fork for him, because he knows that to side with the Alliance would label him as a traitor to his clan, but to side with his clan would label him as a traitor to the Alliance. More often than not, he'll let his devotion to the Alliance preside over his loyalties to the Space Gypsies. This means that poor Bones is unable to try and reach out to Gemma, and convince her that he's not entirely bad, when he tries to talk to her in The Christmas New Arrival.
- In West Side Story, Maria is pressured to marry Chino simply because they are from the same ethnic group. When she falls in love with an outsider, all hell breaks loose. Interestingly, Chino never gets any Entitled to Have You lines, but that's probably because he's such a minor role in the first place.
- In Fiddler on the Roof, the protagonist Tevye (a good Jew in a really conservative society, who is struggling with his prejudices and social pressure versus the emancipation of his daughters) considers his beloved daughter Chava to be past the Moral Event Horizon simply for wanting to marry a guy who isn't Jewish. Of course, it makes sense in the historical context of pre-revolutionary Russia, given the tension in that time and place between Jewish and Christian communities (who often violently harassed Jews or forced them out of their homes, and we see both in the musical). And considering that Chava had to convert to marry a Christian man, it makes sense for the devoutly Jewish Tevye to see it as a personal betrayal as well.
- Dragon Age:
- Mages with differing politics sometimes accuse each other of this. Those who willingly join the Circle are accused of siding with the Templars and betraying their own kind, while apostates are accused of validating everyone's fears about magic (especially if Blood Magic is involved). In the sequel, Anders' opinion of Bethany drops sharply if she goes to the Circle.
- Dragon Age: Origins:
- The Dalish often regard their City Elf cousins as this. There is a common belief that because the "Flat-Ears" have accepted submission and being treated like second-class citizens by the humans, they are no longer truly Elvhen. Opinion seems to be divided between those who regard their cousins as little different than humans, and those who believe they are little better than pets.
- You get the opportunity to level this accusation against an elf who joins in with the Tevinter operation to enslave elves. Regardless of what race the Player Character is, you can ask her how she could be a part of it, to which she contemptuously asks why she should feel any particular kinship to them, and states that she is a citizen and soldier of the Imperium first and foremost. Though her rebuff to this trope is valid enough, the fact that she is involved in slavery makes it rather unlikely that anyone will see her as anything less than a monster, although (possibly due to the problems of this trope) the game doesn't actually treat her as any worse than the humans who enslave elves.
- In Dragon Age II, during her romance arc, this is the reason why Merrill is initially unwilling to act upon her feelings for Hawke. As a member of the Dalish Elves and the former apprentice to her clan's Keeper, she more than anyone desires to see the Elves rebuild their civilisation after it's near-destruction by humans (twice) and admits to feeling like she's betraying her people by falling in love with one of them.
- In World of Warcraft, this happens to the Horde. Garrosh, having alienated the rest of the Horde to the point at which the Darkspear Trolls start a rebellion against him, and the other member races join them, essentially calls his mainly Orcish side of the Horde the "True Horde". During the final confrontation, he accuses Thrall of no longer being an orc for wanting to make alliances rather than take the world for his people. Despite his rhetoric, his army is not entirely orcish, as one might expect. He works with a large cadre of goblins (dwindling due to his Bad Boss tendencies, but still quite high in numbers) who are emphatically Only in It for the Money. Despite the fact that he loathes the money-grubbing goblins and their tiresome independence, he relies heavily on their services and has made one his second-in-command solely due to their marvelous talent for weapon design.
- Played with in The Wotch. At the beginning of the feminist arc Anne gets mad with at the moment Sonja because she reminds her that he IS a man, and not "a woman that sometimes is a guy" as Anne was saying.
- Slightly Damned: Kieri, an angel, is considered a traitor for her companionship with Buwaro, a demon.note One particular Knight Templar angel attempted to kill her after she merely protected Buwaro. Her brother Kazai tries to write the relationship off as 'not your fault, you've been through a lot', but freaks out when she starts questioning the motives of Kazai's superior officer because of her new outlook on angels and demons. To be fair, said seraph has been good to Kazai and seemed trustworthy... but this shows that most of the angels don't question orders like Kieri does.
- In Goblins, Duv declares Dies Horribly and Saves a Fox traitors to goblinkind when they refuse to submit to her goals of goblin supremacy.
- In Kevin & Kell, Kevin says his family of rabbits considers him and his adopted hedgehog daughter Lindesfarne "traitors" because of his Maligned Mixed Marriage to Kell, a predator. Kell's wolf family doesn't go this far, but it's clear that early on, they disapprove of Kevin.
- Phase of the Whateley Universe gets it going and coming. He was a scion of the mutant-hating Goodkind empire, until he manifested as a mutant. His family sees him as a traitor to their cause. Now he's at Whateley Academy, surrounded by most of the teenaged mutants on the planet. Lots of them know he's a Goodkind and treat him as a traitor to mutant-dom.
- In American Dad!, Terry is angered that Greg is a member of the Gay Republicans.
- ThunderCats (2011):
- Young prince Lion-O, already known among his people as a Cloudcuckoolander, defends some stockaded Lizard slaves from a Powderkeg Crowd of his fellow Catfolk. This backfires spectacularly, stirring them up into an Angry Mob demanding a full blown Vigilante Execution, calling him "Lizard lover" and threatening to put him in the stocks themselves.
- Also one of the reasons why Pumyra hates Lion-O.
- Ironically, the Cats were allies with the other animals, including the Lizards, when they overthrew Mumm-Ra centuries ago.
- The King of the Hill episode "Orange You Sad I Did Say Banana?" revolves around Kahn's reaction to being accused of being a "banana" by one of his fellow Laotian-Americans.
- On Daria, a good portion of the student body blames her for getting the yearbook to devote fewer pages to sports and clubs (which isn't true, but she supports the decision anyway).