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movement, but to its various cells spread across the Middle East region at large; the “L” stands for “Levant,” an outdated name for the region.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. Joseph on December 9, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    ” 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.”
    He told everyone that they were a JV team, and they took over Iraq. Then he said they are contained, then they hit Paris. He said they were contained again, and they hit California. Calling them ISIS or ISIL doesn’t matter. He never acknowledges how big and widespread they are anyway.

  2. Bill H on December 9, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    what an absolutely condescending article. this is journalism?

  3. FB on December 9, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, terrorist leaders are plotting their next move. These semantical arguments are getting us that much closer to finding a solution. Most enemies are defeated with proper punctuation and properly structured sentences. Well done grammar nazis! I think you’ve nailed it–let’s not talk about the issues, instead, let’s hurl insults and utilize first-grade name calling mentality. That’s much more effective than discussing a subject that may have opposing viewpoints like well mannered, educated adults. Proceed.

    • John on December 10, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      What?! Talk about vauge and nonsensical statements.

      • Ben on December 10, 2015 at 2:08 pm

        That would be vague , wise and all knowing one…..

        • Konjokris on December 10, 2015 at 6:00 pm


    • Batyah on December 10, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      Bill Palmer, who the hell are you to suggest that I’m the ignorant one. We fully well know what the “L” in ISIL stands for and we fully understand just why obama uses that inappropriate hateful term. The Lavant, as you well know, includes Israel. There will NEVER be an ISIL…not while there is an Almighty in Heaven. You ignorantly ASSUME you know — but as you’ve surely been taught, you’ve tried to make an ASS – U- me…you made an ass of you and not of me. Turns out (a) you are the ignorant dude; and (b) obama is the anti-Israel dude. We’ve not educated YOU. (And don’t present your editorials like such a schmuck…you can thank me later.)

      • Helen Bee on December 11, 2015 at 2:37 pm

        Where ignorance is bliss it is folly to be wise

  4. Bryan on December 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Is there a reason your own hyper intelligent site uses ISIS instead of ISIL in its various pieces of published dreck? Is it to help us troglodytes who can’t figure out how to be sophisticated enough to use the smarter terminology? Yeah, that must be it.

    • gentlerain- on December 10, 2015 at 10:58 am

      Good reply Bryan–as one can see this was undoubtly written by an Elitest of The NWO.

  5. Tyler on December 9, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    First, if you choose to refer to this group as ISIL, you have basically rewritten the map of the Middle East and fallen into the trap of not recognizing the existence of Israel and also Lebanon. If you use ISIL you are then validating the Islamic totalitarian and jihadist claim that the modern day Jewish State of Israel is an occupation state and does not exist in the eyes of Muslims.

    It’s kinda like FYROM or Macedonia.

    If you don’t think Macedonia exists you refer to it as FYROM; this is an actual issue with many of our NATO allies such as Greece and Eastern European countries.

    Levant does not recognize Israel as independent. Recognizing Levant is in a way not recognizing Israel.

    Just a thought.

  6. Russell on December 10, 2015 at 12:42 am

    If you are in the U.S. you should be arrested for such a comment.

    • Richard on December 10, 2015 at 7:16 am

      “Excercisimg freedom of speech should be a crime”
      it used to be a crime under tha alien and sedition action which were abolished over 100 years ago. Good job trying to take freedom’s progress back a century

    • Konjokris on December 10, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Absolutely should be arrested.

      • dailynewsbin dailynewsbin on December 10, 2015 at 6:47 pm

        The comment in question has been removed and the commenter has been permanently banned. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

  7. Dan on December 10, 2015 at 4:06 am

    This is a lie. Saying ISIL is derogatory to Israel, The Levamt denies Israels right to exist, by association Obama is telling them he agrees. This was a very poorly written article and not true at all. Looks like it came straight from the White House.

    • Eric on December 10, 2015 at 8:17 am

      Sounds like you got your information from Glenn Beck. The problem is that he expressed his opinion on why Obama uses ISIL instead of ISIS. This is just another play on Obama is really a Muslim argument. Broaden your information source to include more than conspiracy theorists.

    • Jason Porcelli on December 10, 2015 at 9:52 am

      Exactly. But, this fool, Bill Palmer, calling those of us “educated” and “resourceful” conservatives “ignorant” only proves the contrary. My mom used to tell me, “what others say about you, reflects more upon them”.

    • Khalid on December 10, 2015 at 10:48 am

      The term “levant” is not a political or religious term and has absolutely nothing to with Israel’s right to exist, or lack thereof depending on which side of the fence one chooses to stand on.

      It is, however, a socio-geographical term used to indicate a certain are, one that Israel happens to be in.

      Israel has the right to exist. Israel is part of the Levant.

      There are plenty of things the current administration can be criticized for without making stuff up.

  8. Mike on December 10, 2015 at 4:34 am

    I was very disappointed with the tone of this article. I read an article outlining this issue from a conservative perspective and so I wanted to find out the liberal perspective. This author was insulting and demeaning. I have heard democrats talking about how republicans are so mean, but this just demonstrates that both parties can be cruel.

    • Eric on December 10, 2015 at 8:25 am

      I’d be more concerned about having Donald Trump representing conservatives than the tone of articles. I hate partisan politics because I believe it dumbs down those who practice it or maybe it reveals their ignorance. I applaud your researching a topic from the top two political perspectives. I don’t think that most understand that in America we protect and encourage dissenting ideas.

    • Dustin on December 12, 2015 at 9:02 am

      That’s exactly what I did, Mike. First read an editorial from a conservative perspective (which left me a bit dubious, but it was informative enough), then I clicked on this one to get something from a liberal perspective (which would hopefully be a little more even-toned and intellectually satisfying). And my experience was the same. At least the conservative one didn’t come across as having been written by an impressively precocious but not yet emotionally mature 8th grader.

  9. Connie Brown on December 10, 2015 at 5:12 am

    You should be arrested and thrown in prison for suggesting something so reprenhesible & evil! You are an example of everything wrong in this world! How do you sleep at night with so much hate in your heart…perhaps you have no heart, soul, morals or understanding of how you’re being brainwashed into believing the offensive and vile rhetoric far right! They are making every effort to “dumb down America” so sheep like you will blindly follow and believe these dangerous people!

  10. Eric on December 10, 2015 at 8:05 am

    So in your world when someone has an opinion or view different from yours then just kill them? Your stupidity proceeds you. Your comment proves you’re void of intelligence. Animals kill things different from them. Humans rise above their primal fears.

  11. John on December 10, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Case in point. Another ignorant self entitled and just plain dumb American.

  12. Leslie on December 10, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    At what point will we learn to trust and respect our fellow Americans eno

  13. Batyah on December 10, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    This Bill Palmer isn’t of much value either.

  14. Emir on December 10, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    The writer is wrong. The difference between the two terms ISIL and ISIS are purely semantic and do not refer to different definitions of the terror group. The use of the L for Levant is an attempt at translating the Arabic word “al-Sham” used in the group’s name in Arabic. Al-Sham is a historic name for a region that includes Syria as well as Lebanon and Israel. Some have chosen to translate it simply as Syria hence the alternative term ISIS with the S.