Surely I cannot be the only individual worldwide who objects to the co-opting (only by an ignorant American press, I must point out) of the name great Mother Goddess of ancient Egypt to signify the Islamic militants. To employ the acronym ISIS, the same letters that compose the name of Isis, Goddess of compassion and enduring love, to signify terrorists who are anything but compassionate and loving – who do not even exemplify the tenets of the faith for which they claim to be waging war – is wrong. Simply wrong.
During the years when Downtown Abbey was one of the most popular shows on TV,I read all too many reviews containing references to the “unfortunate” name of the fictional Earl of Grantham’s beloved dog. So I was not surprised when the show’s final season made a carefully contrived reference to the ancient Egyptian origins of the name Isis. British press, I understand, tends to refer to the militants as IS or ISIL, not ISIS, so obviously it was the American fans who were being coddled with this explanation. But, I wondered grumpily, why was an explanation even necessary? Did most American viewers fail to realize the name was that of a goddess of ancient Egypt? Obviously so. The untutored American audience was, apparently, largely unaware that the name Isis was chosen as a compliment to the setting of the popular series, Highclare Castle, where Downtown Abbey was filmed. Highclare was the onetime home of Lord Carnarvon, who financed archeologist Howard Carter’s magnificent discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The dog’s name was an historical reference. Surely, I thought, everyone must know that.
Uh, no. It would seem not. Not everyone, I finally acknowledged, was passionately interested in ancient Egyptian history. Not everyone was a fan of the inimitable Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series of archeological mysteries. The subtle compliment to the series’ setting apparently did a complete flyby right over the heads of most of its American fans.
Still, if I were a member of the press, selecting an acronym for Islamic militants and terrorists, I would prefer to call them almost anything else. Probably something very rude. Sadly, I suspect that the acronym ISIS is too firmly entrenched in American minds to make the change. That saddens me, and makes me long to beg: Please, please, stop using it! Restore to grace the name of ancient Egypt’s great Goddess, she who was the Protector of Children, Resurrector of the Dead, Patron of Artisans, Protector of Slaves, Friend of Sinners, and Universal Mother: Isis.