Matt Drudge, Republican propagandist, appeared on a radio show run by Alex Jones, the world's premiere 9/11 conspiratard. Right there, on the air, Drudge entered into a state of hallucination
"We never heard of ISIS until recently," Drudge told Jones. "Do you know it was designed to be confused with Darrell Issa?"
According to Drudge, President Obama decided to do that "because Darrell Issa was the enemy at the time of this administration." He noted that Obama could have been impeached over the IRS scandal, which Issa investigated as chairman.
"They came up with the name ISIS to be confused with Darrell Issa. I’m really being honest with you," Drudge said.
We have multiple layers of stupidity here.
First and foremost, there is the fact that President Obama is not the one who names terror groups; this is not a presidential power. The group named itself.
In 2006, it was ISI, the Islamic State in Iraq
. When their ambitions expanded, they began to call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, a term commonly abbreviated in the west as ISIS or ISIL. Both are considered acceptable.
(I'm not sure which English-language news organization first published a piece which included the term "ISIS," but it was probably either AP or Reuters.)
"Al-Sham" is the difficult term here, since -- for historical reasons -- it has more than one meaning. It can refer to a specific region within Syria (the area around Damascus), to Syria as a whole, or to the Levant as a whole. To make matters even more complex, the term "Levant" has more than one meaning: Some think that it includes Iraq, and some do not. In the past, even Turkey and Greece were considered part of the Levant.
Most Americans presume that ISIS stands for "Islamic State in Syria" and that ISIL refers to "Islamic State in the Levant." Until recently, I was under that impression myself.
Contrary to Drudge, this White House has been pretty strict about using "ISIL
," not "ISIS." Why? My bet is that the administration wants to stress that the group poses a threat beyond Syria.
John Kerry has called ISIS "Daesh," which is considered derogatory. This name derives from the original Arabic initials for "the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham." By happy coincidence, "Daesh" sounds like the Arabic words for "sower of discord" and "one who tramples underfoot." Those who live in areas controlled by ISIS can be killed if they say "Daesh."
"Drudge" means slave
, or one who is hired to do dull and contemptible work
. "Matt" sounds like "matte," which means dull
; it also sounds like "mat," the thing upon which one wipes one's shoes. Perhaps Matt Drudge will one day try to convince the world that his embarrassing -- and surprisingly appropriate -- name was chosen for him by Barack Obama.