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The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

March 29, 2006

Written by C.N.

Post-War Tensions Among Vietnamese Americans

In many ways, the legacy of the Viet Nam War still haunts the Vietnamese American community. As a result of their political refugee experiences, many Vietnamese remain strongly anti-communist and as a result, react fiercely at any hint that a fellow Vietnamese may potentially harbor any form of sympathy for communism. An intra-community squabble in St. Paul, MN illustrates this clearly:

Tuan Pham says he has been smeared and his business ruined because of intense feeling in the Vietnamese immigrant community about the country’s flag — and whether he dishonored it. To Tuan Pham, it was a simple act of respect for a visiting dignitary.

But for some of his fellow Vietnamese immigrants, Tuan Pham’s role in briefly lowering the flag of South Vietnam from atop the St. Paul Vietnam Center was a shameful deed. For months, protesters rallied outside his small shop on University Avenue.

Ultimately, Tuan Pham and his wife, Mai Vu, sued more than 50 people for defamation, claiming they tarnished his name, labeled him a communist and ruined his business, which has since closed. The case, going to trial this week in Ramsey County, shows that emotions over a war that ended more than three decades ago still simmer within the city’s Vietnamese community.

Unfortunately, this incident only goes to show that narrow-mindedness and ignorance can originate from many different types of groups. Even though I do not know the exact details of this case, I get the distinct feeling that the Vietnamese who protested against Mr. Pham and caused his business to fail are nothing more than bullies.

Like a classic bully who doesn’t get his way and then takes his frustrations out on other people, the defendants in this lawsuit apparently are still upset about what happened to them in the Viet Nam War and even though it was more than 30 years ago, still cannot deal with their resentment and hostility in a constructive way.

Instead, they constantly look for the slightest little potential provocation and then fly off into an angry rage against a convenient scapegoat, oblivious to the consequences of their actions. Except in this case, Mr. Pham is holding them accountable for their reckless actions, as he absolutely should.

It’s one thing to express our opinions and protest but living in the U.S. should teach anyone that with freedom of expression comes responsibility. If you express yourself irresponsibly, recklessly, and irresponsibly, you should be held accountable. Whether they defendants like it or not, that’s the American way.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Post-War Tensions Among Vietnamese Americans" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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