Monday, November 16, 2015

Name the terrorists

In the wake of the Paris attacks, the world is confronted with a dilemma: what to call the group that carried out the Paris attacks.

They might be the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or just plain Islamic State, or as the BBC calls them, the so-called Islamic State. Or Daesh.

Why Daesh? As Tyler Mears of walesonline notes, "Daesh" is a derogatory nickname the group's enemies have taken to calling them. "The terror organisation despises the use of the word, seeing it as derogatory, because it sounds similar to the Arabic words Daes, ‘one who crushes something underfoot’, and Dahes, ‘one who sows discord’."

So, if the group's opponents don't want them called the Islamic State, and the group itself doesn't want to be called Daesh, where does that leave us?

I suppose we'll just have to come up with a name for them ourselves. As it happens, Michael O'Donahue of Saturday Night Live once wrestled with a similar problem: coming up with names for fictional jams.  Following O'Donahue's lead, I've come up with four prospective names for this terrorist group:

  • Nose Hair
  • Dog Vomit
  • Monkey Pus
  • Painful Rectal Itch
Vote for your favorite in the comments. The winning entry will be emailed to media organizations and national leaders around the world, with instructions to use it exclusively to refer to the until-now-multinamed terrorist group.

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