A tense standoff at an Oregon wildlife center led by armed, primarily white, antigovernment protesters captivated social media on Sunday as users alternately debated their motives and ridiculed them.
It 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 encounter with law enforcement in a similar dispute in 2014.
While news organizations were initially 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 group to Al Qaeda.
If we're not reoccupying the land tonight, blockade #YallQaeda and let 'em go Galt Donner Party style
— Noel, Joyeux (@NoelAbstract) January 3, 2016
Whoever coined #YallQaeda for the Oregon militia can just take the rest of the week off.
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) January 3, 2016
So some religious militants took over some territory, threaten violence, and are calling for like-minded believers to join them. #YallQaeda
— CSS nft() Function (@tabatkins) January 3, 2016
After that, the terrorism-related puns really took off. The next biggest was #VanillaISIS
#YallQaeda vs. "Vanilla Isis" – so hard to choose
— paperhaus (@paperhaus) January 3, 2016
— Blake (@cbwhitson83) January 4, 2016