I awoke this morning with my brain contemplating a turn of phrase I've never really understood. It's the "Scratch a [noun] and get a [different noun]" saying, such as, "Scratch an environmentalist and get a communist."
Are we saying that the environmentalism is a patina that can be scratched away to reveal the communism, or are we saying that the environmentalism is an act that, when the superficial environmentalist is angered, he drops, thus revealing his true self?
The first one is less nefarious. It makes it seem like the environmentalist himself doesn't even know he's a communist at heart. The second ascribes chicanery to the environmentalist, like he thought he could get away with fooling us all by pretending to not be his true communist self.
I don't know which I'm supposed to think is correct. I'm leaning toward the first option, but I'm open to arguments.