Thursday, December 21, 2006

Are You A Communist Sympathizer?

As with a lot of folks in this political town, I volunteer my time and services to non-profit organizations. One position deals intimately with the Vietnamese American community. Upon disclosure that I would head to Vietnam to pursue some business interests, there was quite a blowback, with the main concern being whether my personal, for-profit activites overseas would reflect poorly upon the organization.

In not so many words, the concern was whether working in Vietnam makes me some sort of Communist sympathizer. A uniquely Viet Kieu issue, to be sure, and definitely a generational issue.

Older folks were more adamant in their concerns, or at least their concern that other people in the community would object to my overseas activities. The generational gap is not defined so much by age, as by when one became a Viet Kieu.

Those who settled here recently, if a decade plus can be considered recent, such as immigrants from the HO (Humanitarian Operation) program, have little concern with the politics of the past. This sector of the community, who had lived longer under Communist rule than their earlier VK brethren, are more concerned with bilateral friendship and economic progress.

The Domino Theory generation wants nothing to do with modern day Vietnam on a macro-, organizational level. But they have no qualms in fueling the remittance stream or occupying those jumbo jet seats over the Tet holiday. Irony is lost on the old.