Elder Vietnamese Prep Organized Response to “Terror in Little Saigon” Docu/OC Weekly Cover

Even when people are angry at us, they'll mistake us for the Register.

Yesterday night, a group of roughly three or four dozen mostly elderly Vietnamese-American community members held a meeting to discuss Terror in Little Saigon, the PBS Frontline/ProPublica documentary and story by A.C. Thompson currently riling some feathers in Little Saigon. Hosted by Garden Grove City Councilmember Phat Bui at Thu Vien Viet Nam community space in Garden Grove, on docket for discussion for the two-hour meeting was the effects of work on the Vietnamese-American community's image and what sorts of organized community response should happen (a letter-writing campaign? phone calls? full protests?).


Of primary concern were what younger generations and outsiders would think of Orange County's largest ethnic enclave.

“I saw someone on the West Garden Grove Facebook group post a few days before the documentary aired, 'Wow, I didn't know this was happening in our own backyard',” Bui told the crowd in Vietnamese. A general concerned murmur spread across the room.

“Our children are already drifting away,” one older man said a few minutes later. “Many of them already don't speak Vietnamese, and those who do don't speak it well. What will happen when they see this? Will they be ashamed?”

The majority of the room agreed with him, vocalizing their support in one of the few fully united moments of the meeting.

The rest of the meeting was community debate on topics with varying degrees to support, during which the Weekly and the Register were confused for each other two or three times. A sampling of what came up:

  • The importance of word order in “Terror in Little Saigon”
  • An art criticism of much of the (very beautiful) story art commissioned by ProPublica
  • An even longer discussion of the OC Weekly's cover art
  • The concept behind Change.org
  • Whether consulting producer Tony Nguyen was a communist sympathizer

For the most part, it was a fairly standard post-outrage, first-generation Vietnamese-American community meeting, ending in acknowledgement that it would take a lot of time and discussion to reach a consensus, that everyone should attend a meeting in Westminster on Saturday (Starts at 1 p.m. at the Rose Center. Runs until about 3:30), and that everyone should try to sign the Change.org petition written by Tammy Tran (Currently sitting at nearly 1,500 signatures).

There was one thing that surprised me, though. During the discussion portion of the meeting, a younger, 1.5 generation doctor stood up to speak, starting in Vietnamese but lapsing into Viet-lish a handful of times.

“Growing up, I was taught that if someone did something bad to you that was wrong, it wouldn't be productive to argue and fight,” he said, still wearing his blue scrubs. “Instead, you should do as much as you can to show how good you are.”

“We could maybe post things about what Little Saigon is actually like and do good work, so people can see how nice the community is.”

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Email: clam@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @charlesnam. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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