Why President Obama’s correct usage of “ISIL” vs “ISIS” drives ignorant people crazy

As President Obama delivered a factual and measured address to the nation last night about the ongoing terrorist threat, some thoughtful Americans took his speech to heart, while others couldn’t seem to get past the fact that he was at times saying “ISIL” instead of “ISIS.” In fact his primary detractor Donald Trump criticized him for it via Twitter, suggesting that Obama was referring to the group incorrectly. As per usual, Trump was standing up on the side of ignorance – and the incident was endemic of why the more ignorant of Americans just can’t seem to stand their current President.

For those wondering, ISIS is a terrorist movement which exists within Iraq and Syria. That’s easy to remember because the final “IS” in “ISIS” stands for those two nations. ISIL refers to the same terrorist movement, but to its various cells spread across the Middle East region at large; the “L” stands for “Levant,” an outdated name for the region. Saying “ISIS” when referring to the entirety of ISIL would be like saying “South Dakota” when referring to both Dakotas combined. You get the point, but it’s still not correct.

Is it important that you and I know the difference, or that we call it by the correct name? Perhaps not. We simply want the movement crushed before it can do more damage. But it is important that the President, who is commanding the military effort against the group, knows the difference. If a President mistakenly thought that these terrorists were limited to just Iraq and Syria, he would have a hard time leading the fight to eradicate it. So Obama makes a point of using the geographically correct terminology as a reminder that this isn’t a two-nation problem. And that’s where he gets into trouble with those who don’t like knowledge.

The reasonable conclusion would be this: because President Obama knows the finer points of the terrorist group he’s been blowing to smithereens, it means the rest of us don’t have to study up on the details. But the most ignorant of Americans see it differently. They’re bothered that the President is using a term they don’t know; they worry that he’s smarter than they are; it makes them feel insecure. They liked it better under the last President, a dummy, because it made them feel smart in comparisons. They can’t be bothered to do ten seconds of googling to find out whether Obama has gotten it right, because they’d rather just assume he’s wrong. That way they can pretend he’s even more ignorant than they are.

And then an enabler like Donald Trump comes along and tells them that their ignorance on the matter is a virtue and that Obama is stupid because he refuses to dumb it down and call a group by the wrong name. So they reward Trump by voting for him. They don’t care that Trump would have no plan for dealing with ISIL or ISIS at all; they simply care that he made them feel good about their ignorance. If you enjoy Daily News Bin, consider making a contribution:

Bill Palmer
Contributed by Daily News Bin staff


  1. Randy loop on December 8, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Oh you highly educated morons. Just like the “affordable care act” you try to legitimize your push toward turning this country over to people who mean to enslave or kill anyone who opposes them. Whether it’s Obama and the Islamic state… The fact that he uses ISIL is symbolic of the fact that he recognizes their claim that Israel is not a legitmate state and that the land belongs to Islam. It Bush (and Clinton) opening our borders. Allowing unobstructed passage for “North American Trade”. Our government is by far the most corrupt in the world, but since there are so many of you ” sheeple” that believe whatever your side says about the other.. You can have your petty little pretentious squabbles and feel self righteous about yourselves while our country and the values it was founded on are trampled for the “good of the people” well i hope all of you learn fully what your leaders have in store for you. If any of you can get past your overinflated sense of self… Do some actual research into the laws passed over the last 50 years concerning governmental powers and don’t just listen to some other idiot… Its public inforrnation…read

    • J on December 22, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      And under who’s watch was the unPatriot act formulated, and signed? Right, Bush. Everyone knows that Bush is mild to moderately retarded. It was Dick Cheney and his crew that ruled the White House. They should all be in prison for war crimes. But no, let’s blame the “N”.

  2. Nick McClure on December 8, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Obama calls it ISIL to absolutely take a jab at Israel. They are not part of the terrorist regime that he wants to ignore. I guess it’s because blood is thicker than water. Why the liberals take up for him is beyond me. There will be a judgement day for all us. He is good with killing babies here in America but won’t kill a terrorist! Yeah, he’s a Christian, I think you Obama lovers should go live in the ” Levant, and see how that works out for you! For you liberals here something for you to try and comprehend, GOD BLESS AMERICA !

    • Mary on December 8, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Obviously you are one of the idiots they are speaking about– President Obama is definitely too bright for you and he’s THE BEST!

      • Norm on December 9, 2015 at 11:50 am

        Thank you for sharing your brilliance with us. (Heavy sarcasm )

      • Kevin on December 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm

        In reality, “ISIS” stands for “Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (Bilad Al Sham)”. AL Sham is Arabic and Levant is the same word but in french all referring to the region. So my good sir, do research before you coment.

        • Rich on December 9, 2015 at 8:07 pm

          In reality, ISIS stands for Islamic state of Iraq and Syria. You mentioned Sham and Bilad al-Sham but in reality “al-Sham” and “Bilad al-Sham” are different. the former is often used to signify Syria or Damascus, the latter the wider Levant. The wider levant is an outdated term. When you refer to Iraq you don’t use Mesopotamia do you? That’s the same thing. So Syria or Greater Syria is more accurate. What we’re not paying attention to is that this group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, swallowing up that entire region including Israel. IMO, to use the term levant or greater Syria or bilad al-sham is to acknowledge that. That’s the problem many are having with ISIS vs ISIL. Our president understands that. He just wants to redirect the attention from Syria (where he has failed to act). So MY good sir you should do your research before you comment. And by the way, comment is spelled with 2 Ms.

      • Lew Moore on December 9, 2015 at 5:54 pm

        Thank you!

    • Meg on December 9, 2015 at 12:59 am

      Stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. It will melt your brain. There really is value in thinking for yourself.

    • Andrea on December 9, 2015 at 1:27 am

      You are scaring me Nick if you represent the United States of America. That you might actually believe what you wrote is terrifying.

    • phyllip ciszewski on December 9, 2015 at 8:06 am

      I say its all up in the air at this point there’s a lot of struggle as far as people trying to point a finger at one another when where the actual problem and sources coming from I do see the insult with isil vs Isis it does put more blame on Israel it is a direct me no correlation that has been made a link in the eye you know sweet dreams blown into the wind I don’t know but we are in some times of great intelligence that’s needed for humanity and with all these political games it’s just getting kind of ridiculous and away there’s so many better ways to handle these problems I know I’m not well equipped to do so but I can sit back and say hey this isn’t right or that isn’t right that’s the best I can do is American but there should be no reason to strike fear in the hearts of Americans by somebody running for office that’s just wrong cuz then they went with the fear card we need to be Americans and be conscious of our decisions on who we be friend and who we trust and who we sell guns do and what we are as a people that’s all that’s what wins get back that’s strong solid community get back that strong solid American Heart where we watch over one’s back and we what we let one know when they’re falling when we reach our hand out to pick him up it’s getting a lot out of control but we don’t have to turn into Paris we don’t have to turn into this is really don’t have to turn into anything we can stay America just passed a hand on down when you feel your brothers slipping that’s just my comment

      • m smith on December 9, 2015 at 10:17 am

        Excuse me @phyllip, What?

      • Susan on December 9, 2015 at 3:12 pm

        Buy some punctuation!

    • m smith on December 9, 2015 at 10:14 am

      What GOD, wow, your ignorance knows no bounds !

  3. Curly1b on December 8, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Mr. Palmer, you are the ignorant one here, or you’re pretending not to know that calling it ISIL includes the Levant, which would have been Palestine had they had their way. Israel is there, but of course, would not have existed in the Levant.

  4. Molly Aisel on December 9, 2015 at 1:07 am

    This is so insulting … and why? Because I’m not compelled to insult you. And because you call me ignorant. My husband and I wondered about the difference between ISIS and ISIL. We searched a dictionary and encyclopedias. We found that while some countries in the Levant (meaning to raise / the rising of the sun; as the Levant area at the east end of the Mediterranean is the sunrise for countries like France) have been or are currently majority Muslim; Israel is majority Jewish. While Syria and Iraq are under Islamic rule; not all other countries in the Levant are. So if the Levant is included in the name of our enemy; by changing ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) to ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and (the) Levant; that’s INCORRECT.

    • Dan on December 9, 2015 at 4:54 am

      If I said, “The Bible Belt” or “The Great Plains States” but wasn’t referring to all of them, would that be incorrect? No. No it would not.

  5. Bob on December 9, 2015 at 5:01 am

    Okay. I was looking up the various meanings of ISIS vs ISIL and happened upon this little piece. Obama is the only one I’ve heard us ISIL. So I guess all the news agencies and government officials who call it ISIS are dumb stupid idiots too, right?

    • Bob on December 9, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Typo, “Obama is the only one I’ve heard USE ISIL. Please forgive me.

      • Beatrice on December 9, 2015 at 11:48 am

        Our prime minister and many news agencies and politicians use ISIL.

    • Debra on December 9, 2015 at 6:33 am

      Other government officials abd members od his cabinet say ISIL. It is the news media that continues to say ISIS, no matter what the President or his officials say. Even the Press Secretary says ISIL.

      • Mary on December 9, 2015 at 1:06 pm

        Please be vigilant with spelling words correctly. Please, please.



    • Jim on December 9, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Every one of the generals I’ve heard speak refers to them as ISIL. I guess they’re just Obama loving cowards?

      • Candor on December 9, 2015 at 7:55 am

        The anti-Obama poster just before you found a lot of information. You didn’t find it, so does it exist? Think about that.

        When you are looking to prove a point and not looking for the truth, you will find something to prove your point. Thing is, other people looking to prove their point will contradict you, even if you are on the same side. The key is to look for the truth and be open to being wrong. Then you might find something that is worth sharing.

    • ray on December 9, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      To Bob, Look again at the research all government officials in the current administration use the acronym ISIL, not just the president.

  6. Harry on December 9, 2015 at 6:12 am

    Ignorance is bliss, people go back and forth over terminology, Obama haters are going to hate regardless of what he does or says. If he eradicated isis/isil tomorrow they would find something else to hate him for. All the anti-Obama rhetoric gets old. I can’t wait for this year to pass so the american(trumplodites) can try to elect who they want in office, and it is clear they want someone whose toupe is as irrelevant as his make america great again statements. Why anyone would want a first class jerk for a representative of the U.S. is mind boggling.

  7. Steve on December 9, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Maybe I am a idiot but it’s not due to goofballs like Limbaugh or trump. I just noticed the difference like we all did and wondered why the major news agencies were not using the term “ISIL” also. The say Isis. First I heard the reasons now, in this article. My question now is ,have I heard of Isis in Israel? No I have not. France, England, Germany and some disenfranchised in America.
    I don’t like thousands of palastinians homeless but I’m really against Obama’s treatment of their Leaders. Pass the resolution through NATO and force Isreal to except it. But, I’m a idiot, so…

    • Mary on December 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Stop calling yourself and idiot. Please spell your words correctly. Thank you.

      • Mary on December 9, 2015 at 1:15 pm

        *an* idiot

        …following my own advice 😉

        • Rich on December 9, 2015 at 8:13 pm

          Mary, please stop worrying about people’s spelling. Life is too short…

  8. ThenAtlasSpoke (@ThenAtlasSpoke) on December 9, 2015 at 6:54 am

    There is one problem with this ridiculous explanation: Iraq is already a part of the Levant. As such, the name wouldn’t be ISIL, it would just be ISL (Islamic State of the Levant).

    There is one obvious reason why the Obama administration doesn’t want to use the term ISIS: because it reminds everybody of his utter failures in both Iraq and Syria and the fact those failures directly led to the rise of this deadly terrorist organization.

    • Joe on December 9, 2015 at 7:38 am

      Hey genius, #1 who told you that IRAQ was already a part of the Levant???
      Please take your time before you answer.
      #2, Have you come to terms with the fact that President Obama is way smarter than you’ll ever be?

  9. Jim M on December 9, 2015 at 7:30 am

    One of the most stupid explanations I have read for the use of the term ISIL…I would encourage you all to google “what is The Levant”?
    You will see a map clearly identifying the nations of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel. Nowhere within the borders do you find Iraq or any other region. This alone makes ISIL an incomplete, if not invalid, term.
    My he Levant is an aspirational goal of ISIS. Ask yourself this question, “Do you want your President identifying a terrorist organization by its aspirational goals?”

    • Joe on December 9, 2015 at 7:42 am

      Please explain…. Wtf are you saying in this comment?? First you contradicted the comment above yours, and you sounded reasonable. Then you kept typing and the floor fell from beneath your feet. Wtf is invalid about the term the president and all of his generals and his cabinet use?
      They should charge dummies like you by the keystroke when commenting online.

      • GP on December 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm

        “The cabinet and generals” HAVE to say “ISIL.” They all work for Obama.

      • Rich on December 9, 2015 at 8:21 pm

        Jim is correct. He was just making two separate points.
        1. IRAQ is not part of Levant. Iraq was called Mesopotamia. levant is an outdated term like Mesopotamia so ISIS is more current.
        2. The group ISIS wants to restore what was once Levant or Bilad al-Sham or “Greater Syria” to an entire Islamic state. This includes Israel. That’s not good. Our president knows this. He’s not smarter or less smarter, he just wants to divert attention away from Syria.

  10. Jeff on December 9, 2015 at 8:28 am

    If he’s doing such a gear job “containing” the “JV” team, why are the attacks increasing? One of the most grossly mishandled events in the last 50 years. Bush wasn’t great but he knew how to deal with our enemies.

    • Jeff on December 9, 2015 at 8:28 am

      Great not gear

      • Joe on December 9, 2015 at 8:44 am

        Name ONE enemy that Bush dealt with properly??? Gtfoh. You have the memory of a mosquito.

  11. Joe on December 9, 2015 at 8:46 am

    While I am not a GW Bush apologist, I am sure you realize that he is the only president with degrees from both Harvard and Yale. Where are your degrees from? I can only presume from your writing that you are not an English major, however your judgment on the intelligence of others must indicate your superior intellect to the graduate from two Ivey League schools.

    • Joe on December 9, 2015 at 8:56 am

      So where did Bush learn how to create an enemy like ISIL/ISIS…. was it at Harvard? Or Yale?

      • Andy on December 9, 2015 at 11:19 am

        Yep that’s what bush did created them out of thin air. He and chaney were sitting around thinking about what kind of group I can create to screw up obama’s presidency, he gave them a name nobody can agree on armed them , then sits back and watches his master plan unfold. Must have learned that at Harvard.

      • Jj on December 9, 2015 at 12:57 pm

        Columbia. Barack was an immigrant college kidding

    • Mary on December 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      Interesting how sites will cite GWB as *receiving* degrees from those institutions. I prefer the word *earn* because it seems to me a lot closer to the truth of degrees, that most people earn them rather than receive them. In GWB’s case, he may have received them rather than earned them. We don’t know, do we.

  12. Diabolicus Rex on December 9, 2015 at 8:56 am

    IS/Daesh/’so-called Islamic State’/ISIL/ISIS/(infidels can’t decide)…

  13. Virginia on December 9, 2015 at 10:54 am

    The correct word for them is Daesh.

  14. me on December 9, 2015 at 11:05 am

    • Pig benis on December 9, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      When you have to resort to dissecting someone’s grammar, it means you’ve lost your argument.

      ISIL is used on purpose to not include Syria.

      Read Obama’s books. Better understand the man and your enemies.

  15. John on December 9, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Umm the last president we had was the only president to ever have a masters degree. Just thought I’d point that out to everyone that thinks he was a “dummy”