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The violent mob that laid siege to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 carried symbols expressing the aim of their insurrectionist marketing campaign to derail Joe Biden’s electoral certification.
Alongside American flags, anti-Semitic banners and Accomplice battle flags flew the yellow-and-red striped flag of the previous South Vietnam. This confounded many onlookers. One reddit person puzzled why the largely white “anarchist mob” had “coopted” South Vietnamese iconography.
The truth is, the rioters flying the South Vietnamese flag had been extra doubtless Vietnamese American supporters of Donald Trump.
Election surveys discover that Vietnamese Individuals had been the one Asian American group by which a majority voted for Trump final 12 months. They’re interested in Trump’s hard-line stance towards China, anti-communist rhetoric and self-avowed dedication to defending America towards all enemies, overseas and home, in line with journalists and researchers.
The South Vietnamese flag remembers Vietnam’s personal “failed” democracy – and the individuals’s wrestle to avoid wasting their nation.
A nationalist flag
After Vietnam gained independence from French colonial rule in 1954, the nation break up into two, sparking a civil battle. The U.S. helped set up and again South Vietnam, a pro-Western democratic republic that fought communist North Vietnam. American floor troops formally joined the battle to defend the south in 1965.
In 1975, opposition forces overtook the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon. Crashing by way of the gates of the primary palace, they seized the constructing and raised the flag of the revolutionary northern authorities.
The autumn of Saigon was the turning level of the Vietnam Struggle, which brought on over 1 million North Vietnamese deaths, army and civilian, and a quarter-million South Vietnamese casualties. The battle killed practically 50,000 American troops and displaced about half one million individuals.
Many Vietnamese refugees sought asylum in the USA. As we speak, they invoke the continuing cultural worth of this “fallen” regime by flying the South Vietnam flag at Lunar New 12 months parades and musical live shows.
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The flag displays neighborhood solidarity, however it additionally has a extra fraught symbolic which means.
As I wrote in my 2018 guide “Returns of Struggle: South Vietnam and the Worth of Refugee Reminiscence,” some Vietnamese Individuals view their fallen homeland as an extension of the American push for freedom and democracy worldwide. I’ve interviewed Vietnamese American troopers who concern American freedom is failing and fervently consider in the USA’ exercise in locations like Iraq and Afghanistan.
For them, flying the South Vietnam flag is a present of nationalism – a militarized patriotism that’s concurrently South Vietnamese and American.
Altering political loyalties
I’ve additionally noticed how Trump employs outdated anti-communist ways that attraction to some conservatives on this neighborhood.
Final 12 months, he tweeted for his followers to “liberate” the nation by drive from COVID-19 lockdowns. Hours earlier than the Capitol rebellion, he urged supporters to “combat like hell” to defend his administration.
A handful of Vietnamese Individuals heeded that decision, taking part in native “cease the steal” rallies in California. Individuals on the Capitol’s armed takeover have solely begun to be recognized, however media shops captured what seem like Vietnamese Individuals holding up the South Vietnamese flag.
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These protesters doubtless believed the USA wanted to be saved from socialists – which is what Republicans falsely paint Biden to be – as their white counterparts claimed to consider. Totally different from their white counterparts, they had been impressed to subvert democracy by the reminiscence and politics of the autumn of Saigon.
Vietnamese fealty to the Republican Get together could also be waning. Social scientists discover youthful Vietnamese Individuals lean extra progressive. Born after 1975, they by no means fought communism nor fled it as refugees. Like their mother and father, although, these Vietnamese Individuals dwell in a rustic at battle with itself.
Lengthy T. Bui doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.