Wednesday, December 1, 2021

We the Greek Alphabet Formally Denounce our Association with COVID

To WHO it May Concern,

And by WHO, we literally mean WHO—the World Health Organization—which has crossed yet another line by naming yet another variant of the deadly COVID-19 virus after one of our 24 esteemed members.

Before COVID, the general population didn’t give us much thought, despite the fact that we’ve existed since the 9th century BC. That’s 900 years before Jesus H. Christ himself was born in his manger, BTW, for those keeping track.

We didn’t mind so much when American sorority sisters and fraternity brothers hoisted their red Solo cups full of Natty Light and belted us out in a drunken sing song —“alpha beta gamma delta epsilon zeta eta theta iota kappa lambda mu nu xi omicron pi rho sigma tau upsilon phi chi si omeeeeeeeega!” 

That was fine. At least these dumb drunk children were trying to get to know us—the REAL us.

We were also fine with pi/pie day, being a stand-in for first and last (alpha and omega), and even a gamma ray, albeit deadly. We were OK with beta testing and Delta airlines (come to think of it that might be a different Delta). Certainly it was an honor when capital sigma was used to indicate sums in mathematics and when we all jointly inspired the Etruscan, Latin, and Glagolitic alphabets in the 900s.

Really everything was more or less chill until WHO — again the health organization, not the band —started naming mutated versions of a deadly pandemic virus after us. That’s where we have to draw the line. In May 2021, the WHO announced that “the variants of SARS-CoV-2 would be named using letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid stigma and simplify communications for non-scientific audiences.”


Needless to say, we did not and do not grant permission for our likeness to be used in such a manner. Avoid stigma? What about the stigma to delta—who was unfairly stigmatized for yanking the rug out from under “hot vax summer” and sending everyone’s crotch fruit back to Zoom school? Or the stigma to omicron, whose very name now strikes fear in hearts across the globe, and who is already being blamed for shitting up Christmas and causing even more breakthrough infections than delta? 

We were willing to accept being named after hurricanes, which at least are kind of badass. But not this. We will not co-sign being used as a scapegoat to “simplify communications” for any audience, scientific or otherwise. 

Among other things—and in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years or just making sourdough—no amount of simplification is enough to convince dumbassess to get the fucking vaccine before the virus makes enough versions of itself for all 24 of us to have our own eponymous variant.

We enjoy a storied history as the earliest known alphabetic script to have distinct letters for vowels as well as consonants. We conquered all 22 letters of Phoenician. We introduced three new consonant letters to accommodate aspirated plosive sounds and consonant clusters. We have graced the lips and literature of the GOAT philosophers and scientists like Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato to name a few. Why the very stars of the firmament bear our names, for fuck’s sake!

In closing, we are more than just a shorthand for the apocalypse. Please educate yourself and do better.


The Greek Alphabet

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