Latino-Vietnamese conflict brewing in Orange County

Now that the Vietnamese community has come to the forefront in Orange County, I think it is time to examine an issue that has been festering since this summer.

Tan Nguyen, the OC GOP candidate who ran against Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, made immigration an issue, then he went too far by mailing a letter to Latino voters telling them they could not vote if they were not citizens. Did Nguyen commit an arbitrary act – or were his actions merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg?

I am told that some of Assemblyman Van Tran’s associates, whom I often refer to jokingly in this blog as “Trannies,” have been heard on Vietnamese radio stations ripping into Latinos. Of course I cannot prove that allegation – but it is fairly damning. It hints at a brewing storm that could well tear apart the people of central Orange County.

On the surface you would think that Vietnamese Americans and Latin Americans would share some commonalities. Both peoples have suffered greatly and have fled their countries of origin to find better opportunities here in the U.S. However, that is where the similarities end. The Vietnamese immigrants were brought here by the U.S. government. They were handed government services and in many cases free college education – and small business loans.

Meanwhile, Latin American immigrants come here illegally for the most part. No red carpet for them – just border patrol officers, dangerous deserts, and Minutemen. Even if they find jobs and settle down to raise families, they do so with the ever-present risk of being caught and deported. And they do the dirty work – whereas most Vietnamese residents gravitate to white collar and government jobs.

You would think that the leaders in each community would try to find ways to bridge the differences between these two peoples. However, the Trannies are fanning the flames of racial hatred – and even an outsider to their clique, Janet Nguyen, mentions “cracking down on illegal aliens” in her campaign mailers.

There are more Latino voters in the 1st Supervisorial District than there are Vietnamese voters. But the latter figure to vote in greater numbers in the upcoming special election than their Latino counterparts. Unless Latino voters wake up and smell the coffee. Will they? They have a Republican and a Democrat Latino candidate to pick from, in Carlos Bustamante and Benny Diaz. Will these candidates motivate them to go to the polls? I don’t think Bustamante will succeed in that regard – but Diaz might.

And what does the future bode? For years experts have predicted that while Latinos will eventually dominate this state by sheer force of numbers, power will eventually coalesce in Asian communities. The reason is obvious. The latter focus on educating their children – that is common to Chinese, Japanese, and now the Vietnamese. Latinos too often fumble that ball.

Part of the problem is the fact that the local school district with the most Latino students, Santa Ana Unified, is an unmitigated disaster. How many Latinos are on its school board? One – John Palacio. The rest of the board members include two white trustees and one Asian.

Take a look at the Garden Grove and Westminster School Boards. They are filled with Vietnamese trustees. What a difference. That is what happens when one community votes and the other one doesn’t. You could even argue that one community cares while the other one is asleep at the wheel.

Some of the fault for this is political. The Democrats dominate Santa Ana – but their leaders are supporting a white candidate for the 1st District, Tom Umberg. They look down at Diaz even though he is an educated professional who cares about his community more than Umberg ever will. I know several Latino Democrats who have already endorsed Umberg. What are they thinking?

On the statewide level, Vietnamese children can look forward to in-state college tuition. I can’t remember if California adopted this for Latino immigrants. Perhaps our readers can speak up about this? Denying Latino high school students equal access to college is popular in my party, but it is damning to the future of the Latino community at large. Education is the only way out of the bottom of the socio-economic pool.

As for the political repercussions of the Vietnamese cold war with O.C. Latinos, take a look at the picture on the left. That is allegedly supervisorial candidate Trung Nguyen’s car. If there is any hope for Latinos to ultimately prevail in central O.C. it is the fact that the Vietnamese community is splitting up – perhaps permanently. Trung apparently feels he is the “Number one Vietnamese.” Tran thinks he is. Janet Nguyen hopes she will be.

The flip side of this equation is that the Latino community is split as well – and too many Latino voters do what their Democrat masters tell them to. I don’t know that they would find warmer waters in the OC GOP – in fact I think my party for the most part is generally not a good place for Latinos. They tolerate us when we do as we our bid – and banish us when we show too much independence.

Look at the OC GOP Caucus in the 69th Assembly District. Its chairman, Tim Whitacre, is most proud of one accomplishment – recalling Nativo Lopez from the SAUSD board. The other caucus members include exactly one Latino – me, although it should be noted that caucus member James Vanderbilt’s is Latino on his mother’s side. I am also told that in the Central Committee elections last year, I was the only Latino Republican countywide to succeed in getting elected. Not good!

Latino voters and community leaders will have to unite in order to prevail in central O.C. Right now they could do so behind Diaz and actually do something that matters – replace Lou Correa with another Latino leader. But Correa apparently won’t even endorse Diaz for fear of his Democrat masters. Nor will Congresswoman Sanchez. How very disappointing.

Latino leaders also need to make sure that our community does not respond to the hate coming from some GOP Vietnamese leaders with equal measure. We need to build bridges – not explode them. But that doesn’t mean we should lie down and just take the vitriol.

Democrat Vietnamese leaders have been silent – but they are starting to wake up. Garden Grove school board trustee Kim Oahn Nguyen-Lam came to prominence this year when she was rejected by the Westminster School Board after they initially hired her as their new superintendent. Phu Nguyen made the headlines when he almost ran for the 1st Supervisorial District. Lan Pham did run – although he is a dark horse at best.

Democrat Vietnamese leaders need to take steps to nullify the actions of their anti-Latino GOP brethren. I think they will – but first they need to stop voting for the Trannie candidates and recruit their own candidates, from their own ranks. That will take guts.

I will do my part here at the Orange Ju
ice by bringing to light every instance of Latino bashing by Vietnamese politicians that I come across. We must shame them into stopping this Xenophobic behavior. It must not be tolerated in this New Year.

You would think that Vietnamese politicians in the O.C. would have learned from the fate of Tan Nguyen. You would be wrong. But there is still time for them to change their ways before this Cold War becomes a full-blown guerra.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.