Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Lizer criticized for ‘China virus’ comment

WINDOW ROCK

Vice President Myron Lizer called COVID-19 the “China virus” during a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday.

Lizer was giving an update on the COVID-19 surge when he turned his attention to the country’s economy prior to the pandemic.

“As you know, we are the strongest economy after China,” Lizer said. “But we were enjoying a robust economy where the S&P 500 was breaking the all records and then the pandemic hit us. And so, dreaded China virus, but, um …”

Submitted
Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer, right, attended the Prayer March 2020 in Washington, D.C. in September, appearing without a mask at the event.

After his remark, the vice president turned his attention on the vaccine, which is reported to be 95% effective.

Delegate Carl Slater criticized Lizer’s remark.

“VP Lizer should resign immediately,” he wrote on his social media page. “You cannot call COVID-19 the ‘China virus’ and still be the vice president of the Navajo Nation.”

Slater added the vice president’s usage of the term slanders an entire race of people.

“And that’s disgusting,” he said. “It does nothing to unite people in fighting COVID. Those politics and divisions have no place on the Navajo Nation.”

Others who watched the virtual meeting on Thursday highlighted the Navajo Nation’s personnel policies manual, suggesting President Jonathan Nez should remind Lizer of it.

Michelle K. Silver-Bighorse, when asked to specify which section of the policies manual she was referencing, wrote, “My comments came from (part) 16, conduct of employees and at-will appointees, section A, business ethics and conduct, (paragraph) 3, show courtesy, respect, cooperativeness, diligence and tact in dealings with supervisors, fellow workers, elected officials and the general public at all times.”

Slater said the standard for Navajo leadership has always been about respect.

“That’s been the standard for our leadership since time immemorial,” he said. “Vice President Lizer is instead with a right wing zealotry that completely undermines the government of this country and the Navajo Nation.”

The Navajo Times reached out to Jarred Touchin, communications director for the president’s office, asking for a comment. He did not respond.

Slater said Lizer might not resign but needed to apologize to the Navajo people for his Thursday comment.

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About The Author

Donovan Quintero

"Dii, Diné bi Naaltsoos wolyéhíígíí, ninaaltsoos át'é. Nihi cheii dóó nihi másání ádaaní: Nihi Diné Bizaad bił ninhi't'eelyá áádóó t'áá háadida nihizaad nihił ch'aawóle'lágo. Nihi bee haz'áanii at'é, nihisin at'é, nihi hózhǫ́ǫ́jí at'é, nihi 'ach'ą́ą́h naagééh at'é. Dilkǫǫho saad bee yájíłti', k'ídahoneezláo saad bee yájíłti', ą́ą́ chánahgo saad bee yájíłti', diits'a'go saad bee yájíłti', nabik'íyájíłti' baa yájíłti', bich'į' yájíłti', hach'į' yándaałti', diné k'ehgo bik'izhdiitįįh. This is the belief I do my best to follow when I am writing Diné-related stories and photographing our events, games and news. Ahxéhee', shik'éí dóó shidine'é." - Donovan Quintero, an award-winning Diné journalist, served as a photographer, reporter and as assistant editor of the Navajo Times until March 17, 2023.

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