What to call pseudo-supportive opponents?
January 14, 2010 11:19 AM   Subscribe

Is there a term to describe people who claim to support an idea in theory, but argue that the specific implementation is poor, when in reality they oppose the idea but don't want to admit it?

I'm involved with a grassroots organization advocating a major infrastructure project. Many times we encounter people who claim to support the idea of the project but "want it done right" or want "responsible design" when the changes they are demanding are of questionable benefit and would add billions of dollars to the price tag, and could well kill the project altogether. In many cases we know some of the individuals and know that they have been opposed to the project from the beginning. Some of the opposition is NIMBY in origin, some of the opposition is from anti-tax groups. In either case, I'm looking for a term to describe this disingenuous ("I support the idea but not the implementation") stance.

A humorous term would be ideal, but I'm open to all suggestions.
posted by ambrosia to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Oktober at 11:21 AM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by melissasaurus at 11:22 AM on January 14, 2010

In online/activist circles, this would almost certainly be labeled "concern trolling".
posted by muddgirl at 11:22 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Uncompromising, unyielding, inflexible, idealistic, entrenched.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:26 AM on January 14, 2010

As Oktober rightly points out, you've answered your own question: disingenuous.
posted by asciident at 11:28 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with muddgirl - I would call this concern trolling as well.
posted by shaun uh at 11:30 AM on January 14, 2010

"Just as the clash of interests within the Have-a-Little, Want Mores has bred so many of the great leaders it has also spawned a particular breed stalemated by cross interests into inaction. These do-Nothings profess a commitment to social change for ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity, and then abstain from and discourage all effective action for change. They are known by their brand, "I agree with your ends but not your means." They function as blankets whenever possible smothering sparks of dissension that promise to flare up into the fire of action. These Do-Nothings appear publicly as good men, humanitarian, concerned with justice and dignity. In practice they are invidious. They are the ones Edmund Burke referred to when he said acidly: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Both the revolutionary leaders, or the Doers, and the Do-Nothings will be examined in these pages." --Saul Alinsky
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:34 AM on January 14, 2010

P.S. Sorry about the Alinsky source--was the first thing I clicked and the post does not equal any endorsement, yadda yadda...
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2010

Who would be using this term? I ask because it's different for honest supporters of the program (who know the goals of the project) versus the public at large (who might be swayed by such people), or politicians and decision-makers (who might know something of the project and its goals, or may even side with the opposition).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:43 AM on January 14, 2010

Trojans, because they pretend to be something they're not, and because they are slimy fuckers.
posted by minimii at 11:59 AM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Although it is not so handy as a one-word label, the aphorism about how "the perfect is the enemy of the good" may apply to the people you describe and may prove helpful in thinking through ways to counter their less-than-helpful influence within your group.
posted by onshi at 12:10 PM on January 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

the "hurry up and wait" mentality.
posted by carlh at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2010

You might consider using the prefix crypto- ("secret") in conjunction with a word describing whatever you feel these people's real agenda is (as in the expression crypto-facist, for example).
posted by washburn at 12:20 PM on January 14, 2010

erm, "fascist," I mean.
posted by washburn at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2010

Passive-aggressive. They actually oppose the project, but don't want to be seen to oppose it, and/or don't want the anticipated confrontation of actually coming out and saying they oppose it.
posted by LN at 12:32 PM on January 14, 2010

Thanks everyone! These are great. "Concern troll" was the term I had heard before but couldn't retrieve from the memory banks; the other terms also help describe it.
posted by ambrosia at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2010

Related terms that might be helpful:"poison pill" and "wrecking amendment."
posted by Xalf at 1:28 PM on January 14, 2010

It's a lost case in the age of internet trojans, but the Trojan Horse was used to harm the Trojans.
posted by ersatz at 5:28 AM on January 16, 2010

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