An ongoing controversy over the banning of Jewish women carrying Jewish Gay Pride flags from the Chicago Dyke March in June was reignited Thursday when a tweet by the collective sponsoring the march used a term favored by neo-Nazi groups and the Ku Klux Klan.
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The tweet by the Chicago Dyke March Collective paired images and quotes from the singer Beyoncé with the text “Zio tears replenish my electrolytes!”
The Chicago Dyke March Collective raised hackles last month when they expelled three participants in a Pride Parade for carrying their “Jewish pride” flags.
The marchers holding the flags were told to leave the event because their flags “made people feel unsafe,” and that the march was “pro-Palestinian” and “anti-Zionist.”
In statements, the group stressed that they were “explicitly not anti-Semitic, we are anti-Zionist. The Chicago Dyke March Collective supports the liberation of Palestine and all oppressed people everywhere.”
Since the flag incident, the organization has been defending itself repeatedly on Twitter, but the rhetoric was escalated with the latest tweet, and strongly criticized.
The new controversial tweet was a result of backlash to the latest twist in the flag scandal when the reporter who first broke the story, Gretchen Rachel Hammond, an award-winning reporter for LGBT weekly newspaper the Windy City Times, was moved full-time to the paper’s sales desk.
Hammond confirmed that she is no longer reporting for the paper, but declined to say whether she was moved because of her coverage of the Dyke March. She said the shift is not temporary, and that she is looking for editorial work elsewhere.
The group tweeted a story about Hammond’s removal with fingers pointing northward with the text “LOOK AT GOD” followed by the tweet referring to “Zio tears.”
The word “Zio” is a favorite of white supremacist and former KKK imperial wizard David Duke, also active on Twitter, who uses the term frequently in virulently anti-Semitic tweets.
In 2016, when the co-chair of Oxford University Labor Party club Alex Chalmers resigned contending that the group was anti-Semitic, he observed that leaders of the group were “throwing around the term 'Zio' with casual abandon.”
Following the Chalmers incident, the Philologos column in Mosaic Magazine discussed what seemed to be the adoption of a right-wing racist term by the British left.
David Duke and other white supremacists in the United States, the column observed, “seems to prefer “Zio-” with a hyphen, as the first half of a compound word. “Zio-communism,” “Zio-economics,” “Zio-history,” “Zio-supremacism” and “Zio-occupied America.”
He added that “the lunatic fringe of the American right also sometimes uses Zio as an unhyphenated adjective, e.g., “He [Trump] has called out the needless Zio wars in Iraq and the Mideast."
"Zio as a noun, however, appears to be more popular in the U.K. than with the KKK. This month it surfaced in yet another news story about a prestigious British university, the London School of Economics, where a candidate to head the students’ union called his opponents Zios and then apologized.”
When the origin of the term was pointed out to the Dyke March Collective on Twitter, their response was: “Wow, trying to compare a group of queer people of color to the KKK, so fucked up.”
The Chicago Dyke March Collective describes itself as “an anti-racist, anti-violent, volunteer-led, grassroots effort with a goal to bridge together communities across race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, size, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, culture, immigrant status, spirituality, and ability.”