Vietnamese American Anticommunism
Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Vietnamese Americans have utilized their refugee status as a form of political and cultural thread stitching together a sense of identity and community out of displacement and loss. Among those classified as anti-Communist ethnic minorities by social scientists, Vietnamese in the United States are often compared to Cuban Americans who have been able to collectively align with the Republican Party to leverage representation and power in mainstream politics. With South Vietnam’s collapse and the exodus of Vietnamese refugees from the homeland after the Communist takeover, overseas communities that formed in the wake of the war have been staunchly anti-Communist and vigilantly opposed to the new unified Vietnam under a socialist regime. Given the outcome of the Vietnam War, anticommunism has been the dominant community politics for Vietnamese Americans. This political ideology has often erupted in violence and controversy in the last three decades of the twentieth century. Vietnamese American anticommunism cannot be simply absorbed under the broader umbrella of Cold War McCarthyism that pervaded much of American politics in the 1950s until the fall of the Berlin Wall in the 1989. This form of ethnic politics should be understood as a particular minority discourse fraught with tension and irresolution. Vietnamese American anticommunism ideologically opposes socialism in general, but must be historicized as a discourse emerging from the North Vietnam/South Vietnam civil strife, the evacuation of the South’s urban elites in 1975, the exodus of the boat people from the late 1970s to mid- 1980s, and the reeducation camp experiences of men and women from the former South Vietnam. These particular historical events frame and help to reinvigorate anticommunism as a social movement in the United States.