Commentary

 By Mike Landry  March 31, 2022 at 8:40am

Having learned (at least I hope you have) that making the OK sign with your hand promotes white supremacy, you now must avoid the letter Z.

Otherwise, you’ll be tagged as supporting Russian militarism.

Ukranian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Tuesday asked all countries to outlaw use of the letter. That’s because Russians invading Ukraine are painting it on their military vehicles.

“’Z’ means Russian war crimes, bombed out cities, thousands of murdered Ukrainians,” Kuleba tweeted. “Public support of this barbarism must be forbidden.”

Understood, Mr. Kuleba.

The letter Z on a tank means horrendous things to a Ukranian. If I was in Ukraine or anywhere near that war zone I would be sensitive to what the letter conveys.

I get it.

I call on all states to criminalize the use of the ‘Z’ symbol as a way to publicly support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. ’Z’ means Russian war crimes, bombed out cities, thousands of murdered Ukrainians. Public support of this barbarism must be forbidden.

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 29, 2022

But Z is a functional letter, necessary in many western languages, and by itself has no symbolic value like a swastika, a national flag or a religious symbol like a cross or Star of David.

It’s a letter of the alphabet. And it cannot be avoided.

The letter does not appear in the Cyrillic alphabet used in Russian and Ukrainian, but it does in our Latin-based alphabet.

However, Russian tanks and other vehicles are displaying Z as an identifying marker. That identification apparently began to avoid friendly fire, since Russian and Ukrainian military vehicles have similar appearances.

Russians are also is using it as a symbol of victory, similar to the V sign of Winston Churchill fame in World War Two.

And in the world of the Nike swoosh, the Z makes for good Russian patriotic branding, fitting nicely on shirts and other items.

Imagine – a war with its own line of merch.

And there is growing legislative action against it.

Two German states — Lower Saxony and Bavaria — have criminalized displaying the letter, according to World is One News.

There have been reports of the letter being displayed in Lower Saxony.  It’s being widely displayed in Moscow and on the Russian internet.

“It is incomprehensible to me how this symbol ‘Z’ could be used in our country to condone this atrocity,”  Lower Saxony Interior Minister Boris Pistorius said.

Displaying the letter in protests or posting it in the two German states can bring fines and up to three years in prison.

Is the Ukranian foreign minister being extreme in his desire to outlaw the letter Z?

Meanwhile, Lithuania’s parliament is considering legislation equating the letter Z with symbols of communists, Nazis and with the black-and-orange Russian St. George military ribbon, the UK’s  Express reported.

In our meme-driven world, you can see where this is going. Before long, abhorrence of Z will spread to people who don’t understand the long history of the Ukrainian conflict or don’t even know where Ukraine is.

They couldn’t tell a country of NATO from a Ukrainian potato (major world export).

They’ll just know that you shouldn’t use the letter Z.

Sorry, Zorro.

People will have ero tolerance and might ealously ap you.

Right along with those white supremacists and their OK sign.

Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.

Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.

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