Newsprint: Vietnamese Americans take action against redbaiting

In NEWSPRINT on May 23, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Though the Vietnam War ended in the 1970s, even today, being accused as a communist or a communist sympathizer is still enough to start up a controversy with protests and rallies. Individuals who have been targeted in the past generally tried to merely tolerate the accusations.

But now, after years of accusations, some Vietnamese Americans are retaliating by suing their accusers for slander and harassment.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, those turning to the courts are hoping that their stance against this will help decrease the frequency of redbaiting, especially in Little Saigon, the country’s largest, steadfast anti-communist Vietnamese community.

The practice of redbaiting is called chup mu in Vietnamese, which literally means to put a communist hat on a person.

Individuals who are suing their attackers include Kim Oanh Nguyen-Lam, the nation’s first Vietnamese-American public school superintendent, and the owners of Nguoi Viet Daily News, the largest newspaper in Little Saigon.

One successful lawsuit is that of Tuan Joseph Pham, a former South Vietnamese soldier, who filed against seven protestors. The suit made its way to the state Supreme Court and Pham was awarded $353,000 in damages.

Pham states that the lawsuit seems to have made a difference in St. Paul.

However, Timothy Thieng Chi Ngo, vice president of the Vietnamese American Community of Southern California, states his ambiguity as to whether or not the lawsuits will actually stop the practice because many see themselves as protectors of the Vietnamese community against communists.

– by Huong Pham


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