Terrorism isn’t funny. But #YallQaeda kind of is. The term comes to us from the Twitterverse in reaction to the self-described militia, made up of armed white men, who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, a federal government building, in Oregon.
The hashtag was meant not only to make fun of the men who’ve occupied the building, but also to call attention to a double standard: It’s not just brown people who commit acts of terrorism. There are white, far-right extremists right here in America.
It’s also been accompanied by the hashtags #YokelHaram, #YeeHawd, and #VanillaISIS.
This is the kind of political discourse for which Twitter is famous. The jokes are funny, but the discussion at hand is serious. Some critics of the hashtag say it reinforces the notion that terrorism can only be committed by Muslims, while others say it’s making fun of poor, rural people (“y’all” isn’t a common phrase in Oregon).
There’s also been some debate as to whether or not the militiamen are terrorists, even though their actions fit the federal statute for domestic terrorism under U.S. Code which defines it as “acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law” and are intended “to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.”
The gist is this: Terrorism is terrorism, regardless of what the perpetrators look like or what their motives are.
It’s also a strong counterpoint to the idea that Twitter is dying or waning in influence. Something tells me we’ll have plenty of hashtags to parse as the 2016 election cycle continues to heat up.
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