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Straw Affiliation

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"Damon, you can't be a Republican!"
"Why not?"
"Because only Democrats fight racial stereotyping!"
"Well... why me?"
"Why?! Because you're black!!"

Bob belongs to a lot of groups. For example, he might be a man, an atheist, a heterosexual, and he might also have black skin.

Now, Alice picks one of these many groups, and simply assumes that because of that Bob has certain opinions, beliefs, even needs. If Bob doesn't agree, it's because Bob doesn't know what's good for him, or maybe doesn't even know what he really wants. She might even go so far as accusing him of being a Category Traitor. Or simply dismiss him as not being a ''real'' man/atheist/heterosexual/black/whatever.


The specific attitude toward this type of person can vary depending on the real or supposed affiliation of their accuser. While someone of their same (superficial) group will probably play the "traitor" card, someone in a different group (or who has voluntarily joined a different group not because they wanted to, but because they felt they had to, which is itself an example of this trope) might well respond with resentment rather than disgust. A white moderate or (guilty-conscience) liberal, for example, might feel anger toward a conservative of color because of their supposed unfair advantage: "If I said the things you said, you people would call me a redneck!"

When a character does this kind of stereotyping, it is Straw Affiliation. When it's the author who does this, it's something else... typically a Strawman Political, maybe in an Author Tract.


See also Gay Conservative, Blonde Republican Sex Kitten, No True Scotsman, Cultural Rebel, Uncle Tom Foolery, Black Republican. Contrast Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast, where gender-based Straw Affiliation is justified by the narrative.


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    Live-Action TV 
  • The 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "Dick the Vote" included this subversion:
    Mary: Hecky Mulligan! How can you vote for Hecky Mulligan? Nina, can you believe that?
    Nina: How do you know I'm not voting for Mulligan?
    Mary: I thought you were a Democrat.
    Nina: And why do you think I'm a Democrat, because I'm black?
    Mary: Go ahead, vote for Mulligan!
    Nina: I'm not voting for Mulligan!
  • Used to great effect in an early episode of The West Wing, where Josh is arguing with a Republican congressman, Matt Skinner, over provisions in a proposed anti-gay marriage law. He is baffled by the congressman's refusal to vote against it, even though Skinner himself is gay. When Josh finally breaks down and asks why he doesn't vote against the bill, and why he's even a member of the party when the Republicans always have an anti-gay message, Skinner replies that yes, he is gay. But he is also for lower taxes, less federal government, and most other Republican positions, and he simply chooses not to let his sexuality, rather than his principles, decide how he should vote.
  • In an episode of Parks and Recreation, much of the cast decided to look up dirt on each other as part of a bet to see who could run for office. It's discovered that Donna (who is black) donated money to David Duke (of Ku Klux Klan fame) when he ran for president. She explains that, "I got a phone call. They said he would lower taxes."

    Video Games 

  • The Day By Day cartoon outlined at the top of the page. It gets worse. It is later revealed that Damon is an orphan, causing Jan, the Straw Liberal to declare that this explains why he's a Republican as he doesn't know how a black person is supposed to act. And they're now a couple. That's after notable Character Development on Jan's part. Her position as the cast's Straw Liberal has since been taken over by Skye.
  • The now defunct online comic Queer Nation featured the examples of a black gay man who spoke at a Republican benefit and, during it, received superpowers; the "Lambda Rays" put him in blackface, a hobo suit, and apparently gave him the moniker "Uncle Tom". He immediately began dancing for the white crowd in front of him. An Author Tract example of this trope in action.
    • Basically, this comic featured every possible level of hatred for the Gay Conservative possible. All examples were either racist (on the part of the author), mocking (one gay conservative was wealthy, so he was just greedy and evil), or in denial (the most prominent gay "bad guy" turned into a hideously ugly violent monster instead of being ever-so-pretty like all the good gays, er, guys).

    Web Original 
  • Happens in a Whateley Universe story, and the person doing it gets blasted by the target's grandmother for perpetuating negative stereotypes.

    Western Animation 
  • In South Park, at the end of "Cripple Fight", Big Gay Al gives an inspiring speech about how he doesn't believe the government has the right to force the Scouts to accept homosexuals (or anyone). A bewildered Gloria Allred quickly attacks Big Gay Al as being a homophobe.
  • On Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Master Shake is surprised to learn that Frylock is not amused by a Jive Turkey talking cellphone, despite the fact that Frylock is black. Or at least, he sounds black.

    Real Life 
  • Marxist theorists refer to this trope as "false consciousness". That is, the only important thing about you (according to Marxists) is what social class you're in. If you're in the proletariat (working class/99%), then you should be a Socialist or Communist because it's in your interest. But the bourgeoisie (upper class/1%) don't want you to overthrow them so they invent fake issues to cloud your mind with so you'll support the unjust capitalist system. Usually, these affiliations are racial/religious/national identity.
    • What's the Matter with Kansas? is one of many modern (non-Marxist) books that essentially advances the same argument.
    • Seth MacFarlane has criticized conservative "members of the 99%" for not supporting (modern) liberal economic policies.
    • It also goes the other way, with white men/straight men/Christians, etc. who vote Democratic accused by Republicans of being wimps. But, of course, in a democracy, everyone should be free to choose which group to belong to, even if it is counterproductive to do so. Freedom gives people the right to make bad decisions.
  • Postmodernist theorists posit a similar idea, but on a much more fundamental basis than economic class. Since language and culture is subjective, freedom of thought or affiliation as such does not even exist because every person is really a mouthpiece for underlying "power dynamics" informed by their group.
  • Both in fiction and reality, middle-class black people are often accused of "selling out their race" or words to that effect, the Unfortunate Implication being that blacks should stay poor and uneducated. This is related to the No True Scotsman fallacy.
  • Chris-chan is known to rant about how people with Asperger's are "stealing the glory" of autistics (to cut a long story short, he uses his autism to excuse his bad behavior, which is convenient since there's so much to excuse); because of this, he angrily insists that the two aren't related, and that this "fact" is his idea. To make things worse, he tends to act like he's the only autistic who's special, describing other autistics as "zombies" or "windows into hell". Most people on the autism spectrum refuse to assosciate with him.
  • Heaven help you if you're a Gay Conservative in the US. Or black conservative, woman conservative, Jewish conservative, etc.
    • Condoleezza Rice manages to be a black and female conservative. And she was a prominent member of George W. Bush's administration, even moving up from National Security Advisor to Secretary of State between his first and second terms. Liberals are somewhat torn over whether she should be regarded as a symbol of progress or as just another evil Bush adviser.
    • Colin Powell got this as well his run as secretary of State under W.Bush. However, being a 4-star general beforehand tempered this somewhat.
  • During the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan was as close to mainstream as it will ever probably get (even getting Klansmen elected to office in several states), many white Protestant Americans defended it — not because they approved of everything the Klan was doing, but because it at least was standing up for the interests of "traditional" Nordic Americans at a time when their culture seemed to be threatened.
  • If you are an atheist, apparently you must also embrace all things left-wing. Atheists of an economically right-libertarian bent get it from both sides, left and right. Similarly, if you're overtly Christian you'll be assumed to be both economically and socially conservative.
    • On the flip side, due to clashes within the atheist community, as well as clashes between feminists and prominent atheists, atheists are apparently supposed to treat feminism as just as irrational as religion. However, in different cases, an atheist is supposed to automatically consider the feminist movement indisputably righteous, and to not be affiliated with anything related to pseudo-science or anything that deals with the supposed paranormal, such as ghosts or aliens. At least part of this is thanks to a fundamental disagreement on whether 'feminism' (i.e. dictionary-definition egalitarianism which both sides claim to represent) and 'the feminist movement' are the same thing (and interchangeable terms), directly opposed (the position of those who claim modern 'feminism' is repackaged misandry), or that the latter is completely irrelevant to your opinion on the former; the resulting 'debate' frequently degenerates into Four Terms Fallacy with a bit of Who's on First?.


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