February 10, 2017
Week 6 Blog Post - Internal Tension
In this week’s reading, chapters from the book Transnationalizing Viet Nam, Caroline Valverde discusses the Vietnamese transnational plight, experience, and significance in the United States. New problems are contrasted with older ones, and an in-depth analysis of the Vietnamese American experience is created. Valverde submits discussions about the cold war, climate change, and revolutionary rhetoric as just a few of the topics that have lead to controversy in the past, and still do so. She talks about the diaspora of the Vietnamese people and the constant criticisms and suspicions of communism imposed upon so many Vietnamese refugees who landed on U.S. shores. The excerpts from Valverde’s book call to attention many harsh realities of the Vietnamese experience, but perhaps most moving is the realization that many “outsiders” will make when reading the piece in its entirety.
In the United States, we tend to view groups of people as entirely cohesive and cooperating. We tend to view Democrats as united and singular, refugees from a specific region as one and the same, Bostonians as a unitary being, and nerds as a single caricature. No one group seems to be spared the rod of premature conclusions and the assumption of cohesivity. One of the major ideas highlighted by Valverde’s work is just how wrong these conclusions and assumptions are. To most Americans during the Vietnamese refugee “crisis”, the incoming Vietnamese were most-likely viewed as one, singular entity: free of internal struggle, disagreement, or tension. This view could not have been further from reality. As with any population, there will always be disagreement, there will always be irregularity, and there will always be the clash of ideas. The ignorance bestowed upon these Vietnamese refugees was so great that it was horrifying, and signaled an unwillingness by the American population to believe in anything but caricatures.
Valverde’s discussion of tension within the Vietnamese community could not be more relevant today, in the face of the ongoing debate against the Vietnamese Communist flag. The use of the red flag with a yellow, five-pointed star in the center has been a source of controversy for many in the Vietnamese community since the fall of Saigon and Vietnam’s surrender to communist forces, and the ensuing communist regime. In January 2017, the city council of San Jose, California voted to ban the communist Vietnamese flag from all city flagpoles after weeks of publicized, intense debate. Most of the older Vietnamese American community who suffered greatly at the hands of the abusive, communist regime, pushed for the measure, battling a group of Vietnamese Americans who migrated after the war had long been over, and had come to identify with the communist drapery. It is important to note that the country of Vietnam is still headed by a Marxist, communist government that is guilty of numerous human rights violations, as well as allegations of deep-rooted corruption within every facet of the country’s legal, judicial, and executive systems. Religious organizations are routinely persecuted, and liberty is strictly rationed, in true communist fashion. The ban of the communist flag, in favor of the three stripes of the South Vietnamese flag is a strong statement by the Vietnamese community that the murders and unspeakable acts committed by the communist regime will not be forgiven. At the same time, however, the intense debate preceding such a ban is evidence that the Vietnamese American community is still deeply divided, exactly as Valverde’s work evidenced. As time moves on, and the older Vietnamese American generation shrinks in number, it will become increasingly important for non-Vietnamese American groups to support those in favor of keeping the communist Vietnamese flag from flying on sovereign, American flag poles. Because in only a sick, twisted version of America could flying a flag responsible for reprehensible government and communist takeover ever be condoned.
Question: In what ways will the views of Vietnamese Americans change once those old enough to remember life and suffering under the communist regime have passed-away?
A South Vietnamese flag flies proudly alongside a modern-day, Star-Spangled Banner at a Vietnamese War memorial.http://thevietnamwar.info/what-countries-involved-in-the-vietnam-war-part-2/