Bad Luck: The Struggle of a Business Named “Isis”
Before it entered the world vocabulary as the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” the name “Isis” was already relatively ubiquitous. Usually referring to Isis, the Ancient Egyptian goddess of nature, childbirth, healing, and magic, the word has been used for retail shops, restaurants, and even baby names. But in its current context, it has caused a lot of issues for those people who used the “Isis” name for completely peaceful reasons.
Take for example Isis Books & Gifts in Denver, Colorado. The business specializes in spiritual books and products from a variety of world religions. Last weekend, it was vandalized for the fourth time in recent months when a brick was thrown through the sign outside. Owner Karen Charboneau-Harrison explained that she didn’t exactly know the motivation of the vandal, saying:
We’re all very heartbroken (about the Paris attacks) so I don’t know if somebody walking down the street just saw our name on the sign and kind of lost it for a moment and threw a rock through it. Or if it was an ignorant person who actually thought this was a bookstore for terrorists, I don’t know.
But this isn’t just a problem for Isis Books & Gifts. There’s a California-based Isis pharmaceutical company, which is considering changing its name. There’s also an Isis Collections in New Jersey that specializes in wigs and hair pieces, and a bridal shop in California. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, there are 270 products or businesses who use the name “Isis” in the United States alone.
TV comedy “Archer” removed the name of the spy organization, ISIS or the “International Secret Intelligence Service,” that its title character works for from the show, and even rerecorded some lines from earlier seasons to erase it completely.
Then there are all of the people (overwhelmingly women) named Isis, usually after the Ancient Egyptian goddess. Last year in the U.S. alone, there were just shy of 400 babies named Isis. One of them, Isis Anchalee, from San Francisco tweeted that Facebook recently shut down her account after it was flagged as fake or offensive.
Facebook thinks I’m a terrorist. Apparently sending them a screenshot of my passport is not good enough for them to reopen my account.
— Isis Anchalee (@isisAnchalee) November 17, 2015
With these controversies in mind, some are pushing to stop calling ISIS by the acronym, instead arguing for the term “Daesh” or “Islamic State.” The use of ISIS seems popular, however, and not about to go away anytime soon, so hopefully people realize the very important distinctions.