What if the Oregon Activists Were Black or Muslim?

© Jim Urquhart/Reuters An Arizona cattle rancher, LaVoy Finicum, led members of the media through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore.
© Jim Urquhart/Reuters An Arizona cattle rancher, LaVoy Finicum, led members of the media through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore.

The Oregon standoff has reignited an already intense debate on social media about policing, race and terrorism. 

On Saturday, an armed group of antigovernment protesters took over buildings on a remote federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and warned that they would not leave without a fight. The authorities have held back rather than use force to end the occupation.

On social media, that led quickly to questions about a double standard, particularly from liberals and the left, who asked: What if the armed men were Muslim or black? (Many or all of them appear to be white.) Another theme was about the religion of the protesters. At least one activist has made reference to a prominent Mormon figure. Some have speculated that the police would have used violent force to remove the activists if they were Muslim or black.

Some wondered why the news media and the authorities were not calling the takeover a form of terrorism. People used the hashtags #YallQaeda, #YeeHawd, and #VanillaISIS to challenge a widely held perception that terrorism applies only to crimes carried about by minorities and non-Christians.

The leader of the armed group in Oregon is Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, a rancher in Nevada who last year engaged in an armed standoff with federal officials, gaining the support of leaders in the conservative movement, then losing it after declaring that black Americans would be better off as slaves.

Still, many conservatives on Twitter criticized the debate, and said it was a step too far to call the men terrorists, and pushed back against memes that perpetuated stereotypes about white people.

Others objected to the criticism of the lack of force used by the authorities by drawing comparisons to past deadly standoffs between the federal authorities and armed groups that harbor antigovernment sentiments.

“Worth recalling lessons of Waco and Ruby Ridge before suggesting FBI should simply go to war with Oregon militiamen,” an observer wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

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Source: The New York Times | KATIE ROGERS