Why Do Terrorists Get To Decide What We Call Them?
The terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, or sometimes ISIL) recently decided to change its name to the more powerful-sounding “The Islamic State.”
The American press is now calling the group by its revised name when reporting on the organization’s terrorist threats against the United States and multitude of human rights violations in the Iraqi territories that it has conquered, including flooding the streets of Fallujah, massacring Shiite soldiers on the roadside, and driving the Yazidi people up a mountain to await death by dehydration.
The Artist Formerly Known as ISIS apparently gets to decide what the media in its enemy nation calls them. So the question is: why did the press have to switch? Do wartime American journalists have to bow to the whims of al-Qaida supporters plotting to kill our civilians?
It makes sense that ISIS would want to drop its regionally-specific brand name and broaden its reach. But most Americans only recently learned of this group as “ISIS.” Newspapers uniformly switching to “The Islamic State” only further confuse the identity of the enemy in the minds of war-weary Americans unsure about whether or not to support another military intervention in Iraq. The name switch also gives more legitimacy to the terrorist group and its aims.
Should we have to switch to our enemies’ cooler-sounding names every time they put out a press release? If Adolf Hitler decided that “Nazi” wasn’t polling well and sent out a memo to start calling his party “The Awesome WorldWide Aryan League,” would war correspondents have to re-set their style guides? I don’t think so. If I’m required to switch, I’m inclined to call them “The Backward Murderous Moron Party Whose Mothers Are Ugly.” Has a nice ring to it.
The Free Beacon recently published a video montage of all the times CNN has welcomed the spokesman for Hamas onto the air, pointing out that the cable network is effectively granting equal air time and creating a sense of equivalency between America’s ally Israel and the terrorist group engaged in warfare with Israel in Gaza. It’s like some kind of Fate of the Western World Crossfire. How long will it be before ISIS, or The Islamic State, or the Super-Duper Fighting Team or whatever it wants to be called, gets to occupy one-half of an idiotic TV split-screen so that people can, you know, make an informed decision about who to support?
President Obama recently authorized limited air strikes and humanitarian measures including food drops to assist the Yazidi, but has staunchly refused to re-engage the U.S. in combat in Iraq, leaving the terrorists to continue to rule stretches of the country.
So … should we have to call the terrorists by their preferred new names? Does it matter, so long as we destroy them? Or should we call them by their chest-thumping new name and also do nothing militarily to stop their advances?