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movement, but to its various cells spread across the Middle East region at large; the “L” stands for “Levant,” an outdated name for the region.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: