The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

George W Bush: Returning Commies to Their Point of Origin Since 2004

One T.T. Nhu, UC Berkeley professor and San Jose Mercury News columnist, is on her way out the country, reports former Merc coworker Scott Herhold. Another self-loathing American on her way to the land of cuisine, wine, poetry, art, and shooting up civilians in the Ivory Coast, right? Well, not exactly:

T.T. Nhu really didn't want to talk to me. The former Mercury News columnist and spokeswoman for Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown protested that she wasn't a public figure. She insisted that her decision was private, that she wasn't sure she wanted her exit interview to be an angry blast against the U.S.A.

Then, without holding back, she gave me the CliffsNotes version of why she is leaving America and returning to Hanoi because of the re-election of George W. Bush.

Hanoi? A place still run by communists? A city where Nhu's cherished outspokenness might affront someone? Well, yes. The notion of America as beacon to the world drives her close to despair. And Nhu thinks a life in Hanoi can be a happy one.

``My animosity to America has been growing,'' she told me. ``America is such an incredible bully. It's doing the same things in Iraq that it did in Vietnam. America always comes down on the wrong side of things.


``It's bullying coupled with the vast ignorance of its people, who are anesthetized by television,'' she said. ``It's all about Halliburton, it's all about oil, it's all about Israel. . . . People miss the subtleties, the nuances. All they can see is freedom on the march.''

I wish I could report that Herhold was outraged by Nhu's self-identification with vile, brutal dictators. (Or by the fatuousness of someone who could within thirty seconds say that "it's all about Halliburton, it's all about Israel" and then upbraid Americans for not seeing subtleties.)

But this is the Mercury News, so Herhold reports on her typical leftoid hypocrises without pause:

Born in Vietnam but raised partly in Europe, fluent in French, English, Spanish and Vietnamese, the 57-year-old naturalized American citizen was among the most cosmopolitan people on our staff. She was a walking Michelin Guide of ethnic restaurants: French, Thai, Afghan. She was engaged in a variety of political and charitable causes, including ``Operation Baby Lift,'' an effort to bring Vietnamese babies to America for adoption.

In her writing, she found ways to subtly undercut the certainties of American popular culture. Two weeks before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she wrote a sympathetic piece about a young woman who wore hijab -- the full Muslim covering -- to her classes at the University of California-Berkeley.

The potential contradictions of her life didn't faze her. Although she was a committed leftist who traveled to Cuba, she lived an affluent life in the Berkeley hills. While she was deeply concerned about the plight of the less fortunate, she told friends giddily that she planned to wear an elaborate ao dai -- the traditional Vietnamese dress -- to the Oscars for the documentary she consulted on, ``Daughter from Danang.''

Pro-Saddam, pro-Castro, pro-subjugation of women: Quite the liberal.

Hanoi? Though it strikes most of us as far-fetched, Nhu has her reasons. She explains that her well-to-do family split into two wings after the Vietnam War: One wing came to America and prospered in San Jose. Another wing stayed in Hanoi.

It's among those people that she plans to settle. Her husband, a lawyer, has long done business with Vietnamese. ``I'll be able to find a nice place to live, somebody who can cook my meals for me,'' she explained. ``Vietnamese are wonderful, they're a noisy and scrappy people. I'm home and I'm happy. Goodbye, America.''

The only reason that Nhu can return to Vietnam without risk of being sent to a reeducation camp, or shot, is because Vietnam has abandoned Communism and is now much more like America.

But did you ever hear of a grateful Commie? Me neither.

Patriotic Americans might reply, ``Well, good riddance.'' But these are difficult times. In the Bay Area, many of us agree with much of Nhu's critique, if not her tone.

So have we come to America, love it or leave it? It's a silly dichotomy, I think. I didn't want Bush to win. I detest the Iraq war. I'm sorry someone as politically and charitably engaged as Nhu finds she doesn't want to live here. Her departure is a loss.

Yet for most of us, I'm not sure that the question of loving or leaving is really on the table. Much of that is inertia. But when I think about it myself, the notion of responsibility -- and yes, thanks -- for what I've been given helps keeps me in place. In a sense, America is too important to desert. If we don't change what we find objectionable, who will?

Like hell Nhu's departure is a loss. Let's repeat the cliche, and all of it: Good riddance to bad rubbish.



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