False advocacy (FA) is a powermongery technique where one's apparent defense of a popularly supported cause is used as a shield behind which to hide unethical activities or positions. While the goal may or may not be to damage the cause which is being falsely advocated, it nonetheless typically has that effect.
FA is the positive form of a false flag (FF), which can also represent an attack on what the (metaphorical or literal) "flag" represents.
The flip-side of false advocacy (analogous to the negative "smear" form of FF) is the straw man attack, which misrepresents the "flag" in a way that makes it easier to discredit.
Love of "freedom" is often used as justification for advocating policies that reduce freedom overall:
- liberal gun laws that decrease one's freedom to exist in public without being shot
- deregulation that increases the freedom of a small owner-class while allowing that class to increasingly restrict the freedoms of everyone else
TERFs justify their attacks on transgender people (transphobia) by hiding behind the shield of feminism – while using arguments (including gender essentialism) which demonstrate their opposition to everything feminism ever stood for.
Groups who are underprivileged or vilified, or who believe themselves to be so, are a common target for false advocacy.
Rather than seeking to improve relations between the underdog group and everyone else, false advocates will often inflame opinion on both sides – inflate fears of persecution within the underdog group, while exaggerating claims or actions of the underdog group so that others outside that group will have reason to dislike the underdog:
- Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, drums up anti-Catholic sentiment through aggressive extrapolation of Catholic doctrine while supposedly working to improve relations between Catholics and non-Catholics
- The Israel lobby (e.g. AIPAC) uses the Jewish and Israeli peoples as a shield for their aggressive stance against Palestine -- while inflaming anti-Israel sentiment by those same actions. Many people will automatically defend actions of the Israeli government as if the government of Israel were synonymous with the Jewish people, who suffered horribly in the Holocaust and have a long history of being persecuted (and many of whom do not support the Israeli government). Any criticism of the Israeli government can thus be brushed off or attacked as Holocaust denial or some other form of anti-Jewish sentiment, and therefore bigotry.
- The US government is in many ways a false advocate for United States citizens, as many terrible acts have been and continue to be carried out in the name of protecting Americans from various threats (real or invented) while actually causing Americans to be in more danger – either by inflaming entirely justifiable anti-American sentiment, or by imposing incompetent and poorly-conceived security measures (e.g. torture of "war" prisoners, airport security) that displace more effective security methods.
- Many other governments are false advocates for their citizens, where the government's actions more often reflect the interests of a narrow elite than those of the citizenry.
- Investment advisors claim that shareholders want larger profits at the expense of long-term stability and public benefit, when shareholders have not expressed any such wish and are in fact harmed by the actions resulting from this advice.