PQC: Sorry folks! I have to come back. I don’t want to let this stinky old Vietnam issue slipping into 2018. I just want to kill it right now at the end of this year and done with it for good, for we have a lot of more important things ahead to deal with in 2018. All the best, enjoy life and share things with anyone you could find,folks! Looking forward to see you in 2018!
History: Official documents, words from the horse mouth, and the reality on the ground
“History would be a wonderful thing – if it were only true.”― Leo Tolstoi
Since I decided to devote my time in this blog to share with people around the world my view on world issues and on humanity. I am always reluctant to write about my former tribe a.k.a Vietnam. But in this rare case I have to say something .
The so-called document “The General and Me,” was brought to my attention by a journalist’s website Robert Scheer whose articles together with Chris Hedge’s, I follow and read with great interest and respect. As I read and watch both Tiana Alexandra-Silliphant’s interview by Robert Scheer and the “document” itself, I smelled some fish and rat in it. A kind of poison. Seriously.
However, before saying anything I must say that I believe the Author, Tiana Alexandra-Silliphant is sincere in her research. I do admire her devotion and respect her view in accordance with her findings. But her works, as far as historical facts are concerned, is flawed in many aspects.
Her work is flawed firstly and profoundly because of her very own sense of patriotism, which blinded her intellectual capacity and restricted her analysis. She just took words from the horses mouths as facts. She tried to enter her “ancestors’ past” with emotion and sentiment rather than cautious observation and careful investigation.
Language and Political culture of the Vietnamese Tribe
Tiana Alexandra-Silliphant showed that she did not understand the social-political culture of Vietnam. For example, the way she understood and explained the noun “Bác” (elder uncle) in “Bac Ho” “is half or superficially correct. This is understandable since her Vietnamese is just a little above average and her lack of understanding the political culture of the Vietnam War itself. The word “Bác” used to attached with and address to Ho chi Minh is unique in a metaphysical reverence and respect way that has never been used for anyone in Vietnam history except for Ho chi Minh himself . In the same way in the South, the propaganda machine , in a very weird “competition” against the North, created a unique supreme title for the dictator Ngo Dinh Diem with the word “Cụ” (a very respected old person) . This word normally used to address to a much older person with utmost respect. Though this “Cụ” attempt was not as successful as “Bác” in the North.
“Cụ” in Vietnamese language is used to address to or refer to person, who can be both male or female, who can be a father, mother, or a grand father or grand mother, or any very old person. Many Vietnamese with “aristocratic” background often refer their father, mother as “Cụ”. Please note that these words when used to refer Ho and Diem must be capitalized! (Cụ Diệm, Bác Hồ). “Cụ” and “Bác” can also be used to address between closed friends like the word “Ông or Thầy”. I guess it just like in English, or perhaps in any language, that a same addressing word can be used in different situations and circumstances with different connotations.
No one, no matter how much he or she older than Ho chi Minh must address Ho Chi Minh as “Bác”..Some even addressed him as “Cụ”, which means with more respect! Whereas Ho chi Minh could, and did address to one of the most revered national hero, the “people ancestor” Tran Hung Dao who lived nearly 700 years before Ho in a poem that Ho composed during his visit Tran Hung Dao shrine. He did not only address his ancestor Tran Hung Dao as “bác” but also address himself as “Tôi” in a most disrespect and imprudent way for a Vietnamese to address to a historical national hero, of course according to “Vietnamese culture and traditions”. This “incident” is also unique in the history of Vietnam. All because the regime, the communist party created a “supreme title” to create a unique supreme position for Ho.
(side note: for me I am ok with that. I find neither wrong nor disrespect in this poem. I am an ex-Viet tribal member- I am a citizen of this planet. I don’t care about this silly traditional thing at all-Please, don’t bother to have it translated. One could never get the “cultural sense” of this poem unless one is a “devote” Viet tribal member, a pious backward believer of the State)
Viếng đền Kiếp Bạc
Cũng cờ, cũng kiếm, cũng anh hùng,
Tôi Bác chung nhau nghiệp kiếm cung.
Bác phá quân Nguyên, thanh kiếm bạc,
Tôi trừ giặc Pháp, ngọn cờ hồng.
Bác đưa một xứ qua nô lệ,
Tôi dẫn năm châu tới đại đồng.
Bác có anh linh, cười một tiếng,
Mừng tôi cách mạng đã thành công.
It’s a complex and complicated issue of culture and political culture of the Viet tribe. I don’t want to dwell much on this issue. My point is I just want my readers to understand that the Vietnam War issues are so complex and complicated that it is easily to misinterpreted even by the well educated “Vietnamese propers”, much more for this Viet–American women . The Author is just an average American-Viet (not Viet-American as one would think) tribal member with her full sense of paradoxical patriotism (both for her Viet and for her USA. Amazing! I don’t know how she can manage this kind of dual patriotism). Once you tried to dig into a complex history with patriotism, you will dig your own hole and trap yourself in it.
At any rate, the more important issues are those assumptions that the Author and many other Western scholars based their arguments about the Vietnam War.
Vietnam, A democracy… by words and by documents
Do I, or rather do you believe that some country, or America or any country is a true democracy just because someone or some certain political documents said so? Is China a democracy just because its leaders claim so, and its “Constitution” has all the human rights and civil rights written in it?
Do you believe that America was a free country, and all of its people were free and equal in a democratic society after 1774 just because the Declaration says “all men were created equal”? Or even today, do you believe all American citizens have equal vote just because there is a written legal documents stipulating the right to vote etc..?
Or in order to know if those claims are true, you would rather observe, investigate the facts on the ground. You must investigate by observing the reality of the society and find the proof of such civil rights and human rights being truly respected. You will have to find out if the citizens of the society do truly enjoy those rights in practice.
I read quite a few books, articles written by scholars, journalists who claim that the North Vietnam under Ho chi Minh and the Communists was a democratic state, and that the system does protect human rights and civil rights because the Constitution of the North Vietnam does have such rights spelled out clearly! Of course they did verbatim quote Ho chi minh’s words and Vietnam’s Constitution.
They claimed that Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist, not a communist because his alias, non-de-guere was patriotic (nguyễn ái quốc), that he dressed in Vietnamese traditional costume and talked a lot about patriotism, Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese ancestors.. etc.. That’s their proof and evidences that Ho was a nationalist! But no one made an effort to identify Ho Chi Minh and his political convictions , his true soul by analyzing his policies that were implemented on the nation and its people.
What did Ho Chi Minh, regardless of whatever he said, do during his reign as paramount, supreme, and revered leader? What were the actual policies Ho and his gang implemented on the society and its people? Freedom of speech? Freedom of movement? Freedom of press? Property rights? Freedom of trade, economic? Or the fact is Ho implemented communist polices as every communist system would do.
Those wishful thinking and silly assumptions
There is another trivial historical “incident” that many authors and scholars have lamented about. That is, there are some correspondences between Ho and Truman before 1954 in which Ho asked the USA -Truman- to be its ally.
-What if the USA did take Ho “offers” and became Ho supporting ally? Would Vietnam have been a capitalist nation? Or even just a better society than it was? Would Ho have become a democrat? Would the Vietnam War have been avoided?
Historical evidences have proven that being a USA ally or being supported by the US-led West does not mean being a democratic or even just a better society. On the contrary, the US led West has always installed and supported dictatorship of all shape and stripes. Democracy, to the USA is not a cherished, respected value but a weapon!
Do you remember Ngo Dinh Diem and his family’ regime? What did the USA actually support in the South Vietnam, in South Korea, in the Latin Americas? Remember the communist Romania (yeah! Nicolae Ceaușescu was the dearest communist friend of the West, the only one who was killed during the Soviet block dismantlement). Did the USA support any democracy in Africa? Egypt perhaps? Or in Middle East. Please don’t even dare to mention the Jewish terrorist State! Don’t ever forget the current most important ally of the US-led West, the Arab Saudi which is the most oppressive theocratic monarchy, an absolute dictatorship. I want to forget all the rest. Too many to name here. In one word, the US-Led West has never helped to build or supported a true democracy, a true civil society. Not a single one. The USA has never been a true democracy itself anyway. Look at how the USA government has treated its own people with money selections system (not election) and money system of justice!
The Vietnam War could have been avoided if…
Yet, one still can argue that the alliance of the USA and Ho Chi Minh could have made the Vietnam War avoided.
More than anyone, the other Vietnamese true “nationalist” factions would never accept Ho, for they correctly and rightly knew that Ho was a communist first and foremost. Ho Chi Minh, at best, could have been an Asian Nicolae Ceaușescu of the USA in South East Asia. Ho had purged many of nationalists during and after the anti-French struggle. The blood and ideological feud between them was so deep that could never be reconciled even today. Do not forget the fact that after 30-April-1975, the communist regime tricked tens, if not hundreds of thousands of former regime’s civil servants and officers into death at the so-called “re-education camps”. The communists never wanted true reconciliation. So the civil war still could not be avoided.
I do suspect and argue in part that this “reality” did play a big role that influenced the USA decision not to support Ho after 1945. Even if the nationalists could go along with Ho, the true democrats, many of who had been brutally purged by Ho, would fight Ho’s dictatorship as we have seen in those dictatorship of different kinds that the USA supported and installed being fought against and overthrown around the world.
Giap: A Patriot and a Hero?
Talking about Giap a center of the document. As a high ranking communist party member, a much loved and respected general, but he himself was a coward. He did not fight the French for the people. He fought the French for the Party. The fact that he kept silent during the brutal and bloody infamous land reform 1953-1956 in which many of his comrades, who were compatriots, and their family who had participated wholeheartedly in the anti-French movement, especially in the Dien Bien Phu battle- were murdered under HochiMinh communist policies has proved this point. He was talented, gifted as military leader, there is no doubt about this, but he fought for the Party not for the people. He did not fight for the country and for the people when they need him most during the so-called land reform. The two published magazines Nhan Van and Giai Pham of which many of his heroic compatriots were purged and murdered just because they wanted true freedoms, a decent life for their people, and dared to say truth to power, to Ho Chi Minh himself. During the late 1990s and until his death, there have been several democracy movements arising and being suppressed. Giap still kept silent in order to protect his “princeling children”‘s newly found “capitalist enterprise”. He knew how to protect his own skin and his family interests. It’s OK and normal. I don’t blame him for that. But don’t ever call this kind of person a hero or great person.
Was Giap ever a people rights champion? Did Giap ever speak truth to power in defense of the people, or at least of his own close comrades ? Did Giap ever fight to defend freedom of speech, freedom of thoughts, freedom of press? Did Giap ever raise his voice in defense of those were wrongly and unjustly prosecuted? Did Giap ever try anything meaningful to a civil society except executing wars. Giap was nothing comparing to General Smedley Butler, who was a true hero and great person not because of his military skills and victories, but his humanity, his love for truth, and for peace. That is S. Butler greatest service to America and American people, and to the whole humanity at large. Giap had none! . (By the way, this your truly knew and was directly involved with those democracy movements inside Vietnam.-see footnote at the bottom )
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority. John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887
Last but not least: to whom it may concern
Those anti-imperialists, progressives in the West must bear in mind this hard fact and truth, that is, the true strength of the people is the love for liberty and human rights, not the love for nationalism or patriotism. That is, the true strength of a true free people is to fight their own governments, not foreigners, to win human rights, civil rights so that a society of values to be established for all people. Such strength has brought the Western world to this far. On the contrary, in reality, nationalism and patriotism are existential threats to a progressive, humane and civil society.
This so-called documentary, to me, is just a waste of time and valuable energy of such talented person on such a silly journey for such a coward which certainly will be used as cheap patriotism propaganda. Patriotism and nationalism are destructive forces to humanity. Her half baked Viet-patriotism has blinded this talented woman. It’s a pity!
Patriotism is a survival from barbarous times which must not only be evoked and educated but which must be eradicated by all means – by preaching, persuasion, contempt and ridicule.
Patriotism in its simplest, clearest, and most indubitable meaning is nothing but an instrument for the attainment of the government’s ambitious and mercenary aims, and a renunciation of human dignity, common sense, and conscience by the governed, and a slavish submission to those who hold power. That is what is really preached wherever patriotism is championed. Patriotism is slavery.
To abolish war it is necessary to abolish patriotism, and to abolish patriotism it is necessary first to understand that it is an evil. Tell people that patriotism is bad and most will reply, ‘Yes, bad patriotism is bad, but mine is good patriotism.’
Unlike Bruce Lee, I did not do this myself with great regret, and now I would advise Tiana Alexandra-Silliphant and the like that “please, do turn your back to your own people in order to lead them into the common humanity. Do not ever try to make “any people” great again! Humanity has been suffering more than enough because of such destructive silliness called “national greatness”. Don’t even try to make humankind great either. This planet and countless of other species have been suffering from that mankind stupid arrogance. Let’s just make humankind good with the mindfulness about ourselves and others’ suffering. We don’t need to be great and should not be great. We do only need to be good human beings”
Director Tiana Alexandra-Silliphant Wants to Make Vietnam Great Again (Audio)
Tiana Alexandra-Silliphant has an underlying mission in her art: to shed light on complex Vietnamese history and challenge Vietnamese stereotypes. Her latest film, “The General and Me,” does just that, by exploring her decades-long relationship with Gen. Giap, the leader of the North Vietnamese Army and adviser to Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War.
“The fallacy is that Gen. Giap didn’t care how many millions of Vietnamese died, he just wanted to win,” she continues. “And that is so, so untrue.”
Alexandra-Silliphant also shares details of her childhood as a Vietnamese refugee in Virginia, explaining that she had to learn to defend herself—a decision that ultimately connected her with martial arts expert Bruce Lee.
“Bruce said, ‘Don’t turn your back on your people,’ ” she says of Lee’s influence on her decision to return to Vietnam.
Amnesty International believes that Dr Pham Hong Son, arrested for the peaceful ….. Tran Tu Son (from the United States), Nguyen Kha Pham Thanh Chuong,.
International reactionary forces continue to push for the realization of the …. found Khue was providing information to Nguyen Kha, Pham Thanh Chuong.