We owe thanks to Kansas State University president Richard Myers, who made it clear what kind of community we have here in Manhattan.
We are not going to blame one ethnic group for the coronavirus pandemic. That’s not what we do, and that’s not who we are.
Rather, we’re going to come together to support one another as we make it through an incredibly difficult period.
President Myers, in a message to the K-State community this week, said that the coronavirus “does not discriminate, and we have to remember that as we move forward and take care of one another.”
He made it clear that he was responding to outrageous comments made by Riley County Commissioner Marvin Rodriguez, who said our area doesn’t have much of a problem with the virus because we don’t have many Chinese people here. Those comments, which he did not back away from, have earned ridicule and outrage, and of course gave the Manhattan area a black eye.
President Myers, to his great credit, directly confronted the issue. Everybody needs to take the virus seriously, he said, “despite recent comments here in our community that this virus might have a nationality.”
Manhattan was founded in part by people seeking to abolish slavery. They were strong advocates of education, and tolerance, and acceptance of differences. They didn’t think about dividing people by race or ethnicity. They thought about bringing people together.
It’s going to be tough here for awhile. More than ever, we are going to rely on each other — because your health and well-being depends on the actions of others, just as their well-being depends on yours.
We needed that reminder, and we needed the rest of the world to hear it coming from our leaders, too.