Last night, hundreds of Vietnamese Americans beset Irvine City Hall to voice their distaste at Larry Agran's suggestion that the city of Irvine start a friendship city relationship with Nha Trang, Vietnam. They filled the seats and the parking lot, overflowing around the building as anti-communist Vietnamese Americans in Orange County have done since Vietnamese Americans have been in Orange County.
By the end of the night (really, before the meeting even began), Agran relented, and pulled the Vietnamese city the vote. He still lost his vote to befriend two other cities, one in China and one in Pakistan, 2-3 along party lines.
And so, Larry, a simple question: WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!
I was born in the United States, and Vietnamese Americans of my generation might be slightly less anti-communist than our elders, but this Orange County political fact is still as true now as it was in 1975: if you propose anything friendly with Vietnam or its communist government, you're going to have a bad time. Repeat: A BAD TIME.
Flying the communist Vietnam flag doesn't even fly in the Pacific Northwest, where the Vietnamese American population is smaller and less organized. Even there, being called a communist is akin to being called a pedophile. There's no way a friendly city relationship could ever work in Orange County--not in my parent's generation, not in my generation, and probably not for a couple more generations.
Agran, who's supposed one of the smartest politicians in Orange County (according to his sycophants), of all people should realize this. Was he asleep during the Westminster anti-Ho Chi Minh protests of 1999? Or when San Jose City Councilwoman Madison Nguyen faced a recall campaign only because she favored the name "Saigon Business District" over "Little Saigon" for a chunk of San Jose?
Has Agran even stepped inside of Little Saigon and seen the flags that hang from nearly every light pole? Does he not remember what happened to UC Irvine grad and current Garden Grove Unified School District board member Bao Nguyen when he tried to protest against John McCain's use of the term "gook?" What did he even think was going to happen with his move: everyone get together for pho and sinh to?
I'd be tempted to call Agran a communist sympathizer after this stunt and the fact that he made his name by inviting a baseball team from Sandinista Nicaragua back in the 1980s, but I know how ruthlessly he plays politics in Irvine.
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I understand that immigrant populations is supposed to be one of the Democratic Party's strong suits, but not making eyes at communist Vietnam is such a basic tenant of Orange County politics that I feel like understanding the Vietnamese American community is prioritized somewhere between not running away from DREAMers and spelling things correctly.
Bad move, Larry. Bad move.