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Nhìn Ra Bốn Phương

Thứ Tư, 13 tháng 1, 2021

A Letter to Vietnamese Trump Supporters at the Insurrection - Posted on January 12, 2021 by VTMP

I was not at all shocked to see aggressive, fervent Trump supporters flooding the Capitol in an attempt to debase and destroy democracy, to steal and take away the voting rights of more than 81 million US citizens. For two months, on twitter, Facebook, instagram, they had parroted Trump’s conspiracy theories and false accusations; they challenged and accused those who voted for Biden as communists, paid by Chinese, and firmly believed that they could threaten and pressure Congress to force a coup against the laws and constitution to keep the throne for Trump. It didn’t matter that he had repeatedly violated and positioned himself above the laws, serving himself only, and at any cost, including dubious dealings with China or Russia.


I had predicted the chaos and violence from them, debasing democratic traditions because of the blatantly cruel, inhuman slander spewed incessantly from their “Godsend” leader. Their “king” lied, and had been nudging, inciting them each other to stand by him. They in turn vowed “ready to kill and die” for him. Their logic was that it was time to repay him, since he has “sacrificed” (!!?) himself for them!  

At least four rioters died (1 was shot, 2 died from health reasons and 1 was probably trampled upon by the crowd). The next day, January 7, 2021, a fifth death was announced. This time it was a Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick.  With daily infection of Covid-19 surging across the nation, and daily deaths reaching more than 4,000 per day on January 6th, the number of a few people dying from accidental gunfire during the insurrection is relatively insignificant. Yet with the scuffles, complete absence of social distancing and the barbaric behaviors and screams of mask-less Trumpers, the number infection and subsequent deaths will surely increase dramatically in the next few weeks. All because of their blind devotion to the most wicked, dishonest, selfish, and greedy POTUS in the entire US history? And who will take responsible for the uncontrollable surge in cases/ and deaths afterwards?

I was not at all surprised. I only felt an intense, piercing pain as if someone had stabbed me in the heart. The reason for this anguish is very simple: the yellow flag of the Republic of South VN, symbolizing democracy, independence, and all those ideals I have held dearly and cherished all my life has now been desecrated. The very symbol that once was used to cover my dad’s coffin, honoring his sacrifice, as a Naval officer in South Vietnam (a society that embraced independence, freedom and human rights) was now seen flying among those constantly spewing, promoting hatred, intolerance, racism by white supremacists.

Over the past four years, thanks to Trump, the Vietnamese rulers have become richer and stronger, due to increased trade deals between Vietnam and the US. At the same time, devoted priests, monks, and prisoners of conscience, advocating for Vietnam’s human rights, have been repeatedly violated, arrested and tortured because they no longer have to fear any sanction/leverage from the Trump administration. Simultaneously, Trump also destroyed the environment, pocket lining himself and his rich donors in the coal, oil, and mining industries, resulting in increased global warming, sea levels, loss of habitats and land.

In light of all of his aforementioned “contributions” to the demise of VN, I would like to ask those RVN flag bearers who came to the State Capitol to destroy, invalidate a democratic election: Who gave you the right to do this ?Whom are you representing? What is your goal? To show support for someone who was a draft dodger 5 times over and equating his dodging draft in Vietnam war with avoiding “gonorrhea”? To devote yourselves to someone who called those who served in the military losers? To worship someone who has destroyed the environment on a global scale due to his incessantly cruel, selfish, greedy schemes? Especially now that he has tarnished US’s longstanding democratic norms, promoting racism, dividing the country and creating havoc?

You want to support him? Fine, but please remember how our beloved yellow RVN flag was abruptly extinguished along with the death of liberty in 1975 due to the dubious dealings between the US and China. Please do not continue to desecrate and heap more shame onto the fallen soldiers who fought for our liberty. Have some mercy for it. Moreover, please do not continue to make many second generation Vietnamese Americans, previously felt some connection and pride in their heritage, now end up feeling ashamed, alienated while looking at the yellow flag that was on full display in concert with other symbols of racism, discrimination, fascism and hatred.


January 7th, 2021

The following day, the media circulated shocking, unmistakable images of the yellow flag amongst the insurrection. It stood out vividly among thousands of violent thugs carrying weapons and other banners/symbols representing pure hatred and racism. Its image was captured and displayed amongst those who wanted to overthrow the constitution, threatening democracy and members of Congress, while these lawmakers merely carried out their compulsory, constitutional duties. These images once more added salt to my still fresh injuries. How could you do that to the flag that so many people have sacrificed for more than two decades to preserve freedom and democracy in South Vietnam? How could you so brazenly smear it, causing an outrage in my children, my Vietnamese American students, since it was crystal clear to them the yellow flag had been horrifically smeared on January 6, 2021. You have extinguished the pride/belief these young people had about their heritage. January 6th, 2021 will live in infamy, a stain in US history, a day democracy was severely assaulted and, unwittingly, the “anti-Communist” Vietnamese American community, will be automatically associated with the insurgent group, with systemic racism, and with those who carried out the assault on democracy! Is that what you want to showcase to the entire world?

The debasement and humiliation to the flag, that has been symbolically associated with the Vietnamese diaspora community, due to some Vietnamese Trump supporters’ ignorance and blind devotion, have reached its climax.

The following article decoded the mean of each of the flags of the groups that participated on the day of failed “coup d’etat”.


Phuong Vo

The following is a counterpoint by Viet Le on January 11th, 2021

To say that the yellow striped flag represented democracy, human rights, etc. is to take on a historical position that is fundamentally untenable. It is a position that hews to a Cold War vision of human rights that does not coincide with any reasonable interpretation of human rights or anything of the sort. From the historical record itself the flag of the RVN represents a temporary state which never was supposed to exist. Even though the flag had existed prior to 1954, from the moment of the RVN’s existence, from the very beginning of the partition of the country in 1954, said partition was only meant to exist in a temporary state. What was supposed to be temporary became something less than temporary. Accordingly it cannot be said that the flag represents any one thing, since from its very inception it represented a wide myriad of things none of which were ever sufficiently in agreement with one another.


To state uncritically that the flag represents freedom and democracy is to obviate the fact that for some who disagreed with communism, democracy was never the objective. We must assume that there has been no corruption of beliefs or divergence from a perfect ideal for those who carried the South Vietnamese standard alongside other white supremacist symbols such as the American flag. We must consider instead that perhaps there are those who – in the temporary condition of 1954 – saw a vision not of a democratic future Vietnam, but a Vietnam who saw only a fascisistic subjugation under white western rule, of which they were the beneficiaries. 

To insist that there was any sort of consensus under a single standard is to engage in an act of ahistorical folly. Moreover, the larger significance of displaying the standard alongside other white supremacist symbols is to underscore a larger decision by organizations within the Vietnamese-American community that has been true for quite a while: a democratic and just America is not conducive to their aims.

A democratic, just, and anti-racist America will not defeat China. A just America will not do anything to fulfill the fever dreams of people whose very existence speaks to an inability to envisage anything without the might of American empire being leveraged to achieve their aims. Only a fascistic America can achieve what they desire. A display of the South Vietnamese flag alongside other white supremacist symbols is simply a codification of what has been true in Vietnamese-American organizations for quite some time: American lives are inconvenient obstacles to community leader’s objectives. 

Is such selfishness hurtful? Indubitably. It hurts to be told that your life, your existence, your perspectives, your rightful rage at the treatment of your fellow citizens is irrelevant. Like Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac to God, your consent was not asked. You must ask yourself if – in your obeisance and devotion to your parents – if such self-sacrifice is justified. If – as the leadership so often insists – that your existence as never fully Vietnamese – justifies your sacrifice upon the pyre to achieve their dreams of reinstating the colonial order of Vietnam – in which they are on top and the “bad Vietnamese” are killed. The only price what needs be paid is their children, their children’s country, their children’s friends, and anybody else who dares to stand in the way of their dreams. 

To say that these people – transparently hypocritical in their statements – are somehow not representative of the flag is to miss the point that under said standard, in the name of “freedom, democracy, and human rights” artillery shells and airstrikes rained down on North Vietnamese and Cambodians whose only familiarity with liberty from such engagements was a liberation from their mortal coils. Whose only reward from such ventures was a generous gift of rage, grief, sorrow, and buried rage. Are they not human too? Or are such claims of humanity inimical to the colonialist pretense that violations of human rights were only committed under Communist banners?

One should not be surprised by the RVN flag’s presence at white supremacist rallies. The conservatives in the community have already made their stance clear that a democratic and just America is not conducive to their aims. And – like the children they have abandoned – if it is not conducive to their aims, it will simply be discarded. If you find that in the presence of a flag that you once believed in and identified with alongside white supremacist standards enrages you and fills you with grief, perhaps you are right to do so. For what is the appropriate response to people who tell you that your life, your existence, and your friends do not matter? Such responses cannot be faulted. However know that in such responses the people who elect to do so do not think of you. To them, you do not even count. There is a single perfect vision of Vietnam in their minds: in which the western empire dominates, and they are afforded a seat at the master’s table. As an impediment to that – no matter what your relation – you are disposable. This has already been true of the Vietnamese-American community in person. That you are only finding out about it now might come to you as a particularly bitter surprise.


I can only offer my deepest condolences, and an entreaty to remember that Vietnamese experience is not encompassed by a single standard or set of ideals. Regardless of what these Vietnamese say, they will never be all of us, nor will they even be most of us. To live – even when abandoned – is its own victory, its own vision of the future. 

Viet Le 

 (Click here for the Vietnamese version written/posted on January 6th)

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