3/21/16

My two cents on the Vietnam War

Photo by Philip Jones Griffiths
Creative Commons
After watching Áo lụa Hà Đông (The White Silk Dress), not only was I sad but I was pissed. Really, really pissed. Because, honestly, the Vietnam War wasn’t really about Việt Nam at all. It was about America’s want/need to get rid of communism. To stop it from spreading before it hit (if ever) America. Imagine it this way, communism was like spilled milk. In order to prevent it from spreading any further, America cleaned it up (or at least put a “wall” around it) by going to war in Southeast Asia and threatened the Soviet Union. That caused about one to two million Southeast* Asians to leave their country behind. And plenty dead. The closest thing to this in today’s times is the Syrian refugee crisis, with approximately nine million refugees.
It also angers me that when the Vietnam War is mentioned, it’s almost exclusively told from an American (aka white) perspective. This also saddens me because it seems like more people want to read about “"realistic" accounts of the war in the boonies that focus on repulsive realities like soldiers stepping on shit-smeared punji sticks, suffering from crotch rot, or keeling over from dehydration.” (Nick Turse, “Tomgram: Nick Turse, A Rape in Wartime”) than the real truth about what happened. How the war was really about suffering, death, sadness, heartbreak, and secrets that the U.S. government was trying to hide that involved killing many innocent Southern Vietnamese civilians.**
The whole point of teaching history is to prevent certain events from ever happening again. If those parts are hidden, then they’re most likely to be repeated, over and over again. That’s why it makes me happy, when Vietnamese people make movies, write books, and sing countless of songs about the Vietnamese War, (despite how sad most of it is) because we’re taking control of our own narratives and telling people another side that’s very rarely shown. A side that’s about missing people, seeing your home get destroyed, seeing people die right in front of you, trying to survive, trying to live in a new country, bullying, etc. In the hopes that maybe history won’t be repeated again. However, Americans also need to tell the truth about what has happened, if we want to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again.

And now the weather:
I Was A Boat Person: Vietnamese Refugees Look Back

*The reason why I say Southeast and not Vietnam was because the Vietnamese War also affected the surrounding countries like Laos and Cambodia. But the main focus is still on Việt Nam. Fun fact, apparently 21 countries were involved in the war. 
**Note: I still have yet to read Nick Turse's book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, so I am a bit dubious about its truth and how valid his sources are. However, I don't doubt the fact that a lot of Vietnamese people were killed either by the Americans, either of the Vietnamese armies, trying to escape the war-torn country in a boat/plane/another method, etc.
~ Stacy N.

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