COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lt. Gov Jon Husted’s tweet last week continues to reverberate throughout the Asian-American community in Ohio.
Husted referred to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan virus” when he shared an article about former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield telling CNN he believes the coronavirus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, despite having no evidence.
During an interview with 10TV Reported Kevin Landers, he said "he did nothing wrong" and "he didn't offend anyone."
State Senator Tina Maharath (D-Columbus) strongly disagrees.
“I think it's absolutely humiliating that he is our Lieutenant Governor and that he absolutely refused that he has offended people,” Maharath said.
Husted followed up his tweet the next day saying he was only referring to the Chinese government, not the Chinese people.
Miki Gotoh, who recently organized a rally to stop Asian hate, says she was angry over Husted's claim he didn't offend anyone by using the phrase "Wuhan virus."
“There is diplomacy, there is tact and there is character. It shows that he shows that he lacks character by not being able to say I offended somebody,” Gotoh said.
Seventy Asian-Americans from the Upper Arlington neighborhood where Husted lives signed a letter to Husted saying his words have raised anxiety and fear.
“There is a large group of Asian-Americans in his state that he is a leader of that is hurting right now and he owes us an apology,” Gotoh said.
Husted said Thursday he had not read the letter and plans to respond appropriately.
The Ohio Senate Democrats are also calling on Husted to apologize:
“Words matter. At a time of increased violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, the words used by the lieutenant governor can reinforce racial tropes that have been recently used to incite violence against members of the AAPI community and risk putting them in danger. We support and validate the concerns of the members of the AAPI community who tell us they feel offended or threatened. We call on the lieutenant governor to listen to his Asian American neighbors and apologize.”
John Fortney, the Director of Communication for the Ohio Senate responded by saying “It’s unfortunate the far left is driving an agenda of identity politics and class warfare, that encourages people to live in a state of being perpetually offended. There are serious questions about the origination of this deadly virus which is far more important than clearing the cancel culture’s constantly moving bias bar of political correctness."
Meanwhile, those in the Asian-American community say an apology would go a long way to help remove the stigma that Asian-Americans feel when the phrase "Wuhan virus” is used. A phrase they say suggests they are responsible.
“It leads to blame, and in some cases, xenophobic behavior,” Maharath said.