A group of armed militants took control of a US federal wildlife refuge in Oregon over the weekend, pledging to occupy the area until the government gave up its control of the land. The building was unoccupied because of the New Year’s holiday. Some argue that the militants, who are all believed to be exclusively white and male, should really be labeled as domestic terrorists.
Among the self-styled “militiamen” is Ammon Bundy, the son of infamous Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who had a similar armed stalemate with police of his own in 2014. According to the Oregonian, local law enforcement doesn’t seem too concerned with the situation. The armed militants at the refuge “come and go as they please,” and no police were spotted outside the refuge or anywhere on the road between it and the town of Burns, where the protest that led to the occupancy started. It doesn’t appear to be nearly the “tense standoff” that several news outlets have reported it to be.
The clever denizens of the internet aren’t taking the threat too seriously either. Thousands of people from around the world have taken to Twitter to mock the “militiamen” using the hashtags #YallQaeda and #VanillaISIS—both obviously lampooning the make-up of the protesters while simultaneously comparing them to well-known jihadist groups.
The #YallQaeda hashtag isn’t exactly new—it’s been used as early as 2011 on social media to describe American domestic terrorists, right-wing extremists, and white Christian fundamentalists. It’s achieved increased popularity in the last year or two, in light of events like Kentucky clerk Kim Davis refusing to marry gay couples, and the Planned Parenthood shooting in which a gunman killed three people and declared himself a “warrior for the babies.”
#VanillaISIS, too, isn’t entirely original. The joke appears to have emanated at the Comedy Central roast of pop star Justin Bieber, when rapper Snoop Dogg gave Bieber the nickname for releasing a large number of “horrible and unwatchable” music videos. In December, The Daily Show dubbed Donald Trump as “white ISIS” (video).