After I just got done explaining why I use “ISIS” instead of “ISIL” or “Islamic State,” I see this story in National Journal, and also in WaPo, about the other ISIS: the Institute for Science and International Security. The (relatively) good ISIS is naturally upset about being mistaken for the bad ISIS:
The institute has been the target of “ugly tweets due to confusing us with the terrorists,” Albright says, including one tweet that suggested that they were the nuclear wing of the Islamic State and should be “stamped out” (to be fair, their account is @ISISNuclear so the confusion is, well, understandable). Albright is worried that someone might mistakenly confuse his staff for terrorists and do something rash.
Albright says he’s spent far too much time thinking about the Islamic State and the name dilemma lately, and that “the cost of staff time” lost to learning about and contemplating the Islamic State “is certainly a problem.” So Albright is trying to remedy his quandary: by going to different media organizations and asking them to, please, stop calling the Islamic State ISIS.
We at National Journal first heard of the Institute for Science and International Security’s plight in an email from Albright this week that urged us to “no longer identify this terrorist group as ISIS.” Continuing to label the terrorist group as such, he wrote, “harms my and multiple other organizations’ reputations (not mentioning the effect on the many women named Isis) and causes confusion among those just learning about our organization.” The Washington Post got a similar message.
I’m a little ashamed to say that, unlike the National Journal or WaPo, I already knew that this ISIS existed, but I didn’t think about the potential confusion. The Institute for Science and International Security is run by a former IAEA inspector named David Albright, whose record on both Iraq and Iran is, to be charitable, spotty (and to be uncharitable, pretty warmongery), but that still doesn’t justify conflating him with the people who are beheading innocents in the Middle East. So my editorial decision is to stop using ISIS to describe the really bad guys and switch to either ISIL or Daesh, their Arabic acronym, which the French are now using mostly because the group in question hates it. Anyway, thank you for indulging me.