"Sometimes we have to face the truth about our country, no matter how pleasant it is."
attributed to Jean Kirkpatrick, former Ambassador to the UN
Political Correctness Misrepresents the South Vietnamese Role in the War
Pacific News Service
and Cal Today, News Report,
Pete Micek, Mar 27, 2004
Mayday 1975, held on March 18 at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif., is part of a growing effort to document the first-hand experience of Vietnamese immigrants of the Vietnam War.
De Anza U.S. history instructor Jean Libby required her students to attend the discussion, which featured a former South Vietnamese army general, a student from Vietnam, and Mimi Nguyen, a researcher at the Oakland Museum who says she was fired for speaking out against the lack of Vietnamese voices in an upcoming exhibit on the conflict.
The incident sparked protests from the Vietnamese community throughout California, which numbers more than 500,000.
In response to the incident, Libby planned the town-hall discussion, which took place amid De Anzas Vietnam Conflict Collection -- an expanding library of literature and multi-media materials. It includes valuable perspectives from Vietnamese.
Such collections are invaluable when studying the conflict. Without them children of Vietnamese immigrants, Libby says, are taught a version of the Vietnam War that does not include the viewpoints of their parents, Vietnamese who lived through it. Many Vietnamese immigrants in the United States supported the anti-communist South Vietnamese army.
Americas ally in the conflict, the South Vietnamese army was made to look untrustworthy and incompetent by U.S. groups that opposed the war, said Libby.
Students are reading history books that represent their parents in a negative light, Nguyen said.
During the war, only the most unfavorable angles of the South Vietnamese army, said author Lam Quang Thi, a former South Vietnamese army general, were shown by American media. He said the infamous picture of South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner was made more dramatic by the American press.
Vietnamese history has for a long time been misrepresented in American schools as well as in memoirs and books written by American anti-war authors, said Nam Nguyen, editor of Cali Today, a Vietnamese-language publication in San Jose. The Vietnamese people are living legacies of the conflict and they know more than many American authors."
Mayday 1975 also refers to the pullout of U.S. forces from Vietnam -- and the subsequent American neglect of its former ally, South Vietnam -- Libby said.
Nguyen also said nothing was heard in the U.S. media about the good things happening in North Vietnam during the war. She said there was little coverage of the opposition to the war among North Vietnamese Buddhist monks and other religious groups because the U.S. government discouraged such reports.
Joining Libby in the group supporting Nguyen was Diem Truong, 27, a Vietnamese student at De Anza.
Students need to be exposed to other sources of information besides the mainstream media, Truong said. We need to access the knowledge that immigrants have.
Discussions like the one at De Anza College, Truong said, make immigrants feel more comfortable to voice their concerns.
Former De Anza student Patrick Noia, of San Jose, attended the event at the behest of a former teacher. First-person accounts bring life to history books, he said.
|University politics is very odd. You get
a lot of people gathered together, who, if they
couldnt do this, really couldnt do anything.
They are given to think that because they are both
intelligent and important because they have Ph.D.s and
most people dont. Often, though not always, the
Ph.D does indicate mastery over a subject. But
thats all it indicates, and, unfortunately, many
people with Ph.D.s think it covers a wider area than it
does. They think it empowers their superior insight into
government and foreign policy and race relations and
such. In addition these people are put into an
environment where daily, they judge themselves against a
standard set by eighteen- or twenty-year-old kids who
know little if anything about the subject matter in which
their professors are expert.
Source?: Robert B Parker, Hush Money, Putnam 1999