How candidates running for the US Senate are handling the coronavirus to score political point during their campaigns are a real eye opener to what kind of person they are.

A week ago Kris Kobach, in an e-mail to his supporters, said it’s time to “hold Communist China accountable,” after saying the coronavirus “has affected our communities, destroyed our economy, and fundamentally changed our lives. And, the worst part is that this was entirely preventable.”  In an e-mail yesterday Kobach said President Trump is justified in not funding the World Health Organization because they “chose to parrot Chinese communist propaganda.”

Whether you think China mishandled the coronavirus pandemic or they did the best they could under trying circumstances, now is no time to use xenophobia and hatred to gain political supporters. That kind of thinking is exactly why violence against Chinese-Americans and other Americans of Asian descent are at an all-time high.

Over a hundred years ago, Kansas was exactly in the situation that China is in now. The 1918 flu epidemic started here -- it originated in geese, transferred to pigs, then to humans -- hence the reason it eventually became known as the swine flu. We are fortunate that it wasn’t remembered as the Kansas flu, but perhaps our forefathers had enough sense to realize the disease wasn’t something to be blamed on the first people to contract it.

Remember now, more than ever,  that people infected with the coronavirus are victims, not scapegoats. Whether they are contagious or not, Asian-American or white, Spring-Breakers or back from a cruise ship, old or young,  they all just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and deserve our compassion and understanding.

There are all sorts of ways candidates responded to the coronavirus that show they are worthy of being a leader.

 Congressman Roger Marshall who is seeking the same Republican nomination for the Senate seat as Kobach, has praised the quick response of health-care workers and other first responders, given kudos to charities, government agencies and others providing relief and even commended President Trump for providing quick payments to American workers.

On the other side of the political spectrum, state Sen. Barbara Bollier, seeking the Democrat nomination for the US Senate seat, has actively fought for unemployment benefits for those laid off because of the coronavirus and child care subsidies for essential workers still working. Manhattan Mayor Ushi Reddi, another Democrat running for Senate, also supported the governor’s actions to limit the spread of the disease and quickly implemented efforts to help businesses that would be adversely affected by the governor’s orders, particularly small businesses.

Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican whose seat is not up for re-election, has called for widespread testing for the coronavirus and has backed efforts to provide Kansans with relief.

All of those things are great ways to respond to a crisis.

But blaming China is not the answer.

--Ryan D. Wilson