By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 20, 2007
Updated September 6, 2007
Thieu grew up in Vietnam. He was a professional teacher of literature and history. After the communists took over all of Vietnam in 1975, Thieu fell in love and married a woman who worked for the communist government.
Today, at the age of 55, Thieu came to the United States; sponsored by his 84 year old Mother.
Mother will become a U.S. citizen tomorrow. Thieu will be on hand to witness this grand event along with his three brothers and three sisters.
One of Thieu’s sisters is Diep, who came here from Vietnam only 15 months ago at the age of 65. She is working toward her citizenship and learning to drive. (see story on Diep at the end of this essay)
Thieu left behind in Vietnam his wife of almost thirty years. She thought she could not change her ways away from the communist system.
Thieu also left behind two daughters aged 26 and 22. They both speak English, have good jobs, and read the Washington Times and Post on the internet.
When I asked Thieu about internet restrictions, he only said, “Smart ones can get around that in Vietnam. Not like China that has the famous ‘internet wall.’”
Blogging is huge. Guys like you with good information blogs are like rock stars!” Thieu told me.
Thieu obviously knew what he was talking about.
When I visited with Thieu I was with my own Mother-in-law of about his mother’s age. He said, “These are both Mothers that visited sons in communist re-education prisons after 1975 [when the communists took over]. Sometimes for seven, eight or more years.”
Since Thieu is an educated man who spoke to me about the communists in China, I asked him to compare Vietnam to China.
He said, “The Chinese people do not know what they do not know. China has no history or tradition with democracy. The people, many of them, have learned to live as sheep. We in Vietnam lived with the French for many decades, maybe 100 years. And we had a democratic tradition and experience with democracy and western religions. In South Vietnam, there is still longing for democracy. Many of the communists in Vietnam tell you how grand their system is; yet they no longer believe in the words spoken by the party. They have learned to know better.”
I thought this was a very meaningful statement coming from the husband of a communist functionary.
I asked Thieu to think a moment and then tell me the worst aspect of communism.
Thieu did think, but only for a moment, and then said, “Communist governments always lie.”
I was stunned. I told Thieu that I had written about this very thing many times, and most recently for The Washington Times on August 8, 2007.
Thieu asked, “How did you know such a thing?”
I told him I lived for a time in China, I considered myself a “China watcher,” and still had many friends who communicated with me from China.
He asked what I knew about Vietnam; but my bride interrupted before I could answer.“The Church asked us to teach English as a Second Language (ESL)” said my wife to the startled newcomer, “to the newcomers from Vietnam this year.”
I asked Thieu if Vietnam would still be a communist nation at the end of our lifetimes. Maybe 50 years from now (I am an optimist).
Thieu said, “Even before 1975, the people in communist North Vietnam were told that South Vietnam was poor and uneducated. The communists said first the French enslaved the South Vietnamese and then the ‘White Devils’ [Americans] did the same thing. But as communists came from North Vietnam to Saigon, they found a happy contented, educated and prosperous people. But in the first few years of communist rule, all of South Vietnam collapsed into poverty and near starvation. People were forced from Saigon and into the fields to do farm labor — to make food.”
Thieu finished this line of thought with, “Every communist knew they had been lied to. The stories about South Vietnam were wrong and the communist system was the one that didn’t function well.”
Thieu said he would immediately seek work and he invited us to come to his Mom’s citizenship ceremony tomorrow.
More importantly, Thieu asked us to come to his U.S. citizenship ceremony: whenever that should occur.
China: You Won’t Get The Truth
My Day With Diep: Seeing America Through Immigrant Eyes
Vietnam After the Fall of Saigon: 1975 Until Present
The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part II)