At dinner Tran asked why the Vietnamese community is so pissed off that they cannot have the name “Little Saigon” in San Jose. She did not understand why a guy was willing to go on a hunger strike in protest over a simple name change. I didn’t know either, so I went to ask my parents. The answer was, “Because they are Commies!”
According to my parents, and perhaps most older people in the Vietnamese community, Madison Nguyen is a communist. She was put into office with the help of the Vietnamese people, yet she betrayed them. They believe that she was bought out with communist money. They also have all these conspiracy theories about how the communists are influencing public policies and that the communists are working hard to suppress the Southern Vietnamese people.
Now, to be realistic, I don’t know much about Madison Nguyen, or communist influence. However, in that conversation, it became very clear to me how much my parents, and essentially the entire older generation of Vietnamese immigrants, still passionately HATE communism.
It is hard for the younger Vietnamese people and Americans ( excluding Vietnam Vets ) to understand the pain and sorrow the older generation feel. We usually just brush them off as paranoid and old-fashioned. But the more I listen to my parents, the more I realize that perhaps we will NEVER understand all the suffering they’ve been through. And the minute we try to understand it, we have already failed.
So to answer Tran’s question, the reason why they are so passionate about the name “Little Saigon” is because to them it’s not just a name change. To them, it represents an on going fight against communist influence. They feel that the name “Saigon Business District”, or “Vietnamese Business District” does not fully represent their desire to separate themselves from the communist regime. To them, the name “Little Saigon” is a form of protest against communism, and will send a message to the communists that the South Vietnamese people are still alive and well.