A tense standoff at an Oregon wildlife center led by armed, primarily white, anti-government protesters captivated social media on Sunday as users alternately debated their motives and ridiculed the protesters.
The standoff began on Saturday, when the group took control of the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southern Oregon, to protest the jail sentences of two men who set fire to federal land.
The occupiers were led by Ammon Bundy, whose father, Cliven Bundy, made national headlines for a tense standoff with law enforcement in a similar dispute in 2014.
While news organisations initially were using #OregonUnderAttack to talk about the standoff, Twitter users started using some less neutral terms to refer to the ‘militia.’ The primary hashtag Twitter users began employing was #YallQaeda, clearly likening the Oregon ‘militia’ group to Al Qaeda.
While #YallQaeda has been used intermittently since at least 2011 to refer to various right-wing, Tea Party, or other anti-government groups, it caught fire with users commenting on the Oregon standoff. It is currently trending with over 35,000 tweets so far.
Then some users added #YeeHawd and took it to another level:
After that, the terrorism-related puns really took off. The next biggest was #VanillaISIS, which some users have been using over the last month to refer to Donald Trump and his supporters, following Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s dubbing of Trump as White ISIS or WHISIS.