California State Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Santa Ana) was silenced and forcibly removed from the Senate chamber on Thursday, February 23rd, for honoring the victims of communism in her native Vietnam. Her floor speech coincided with the honoring of late State Senator, former husband of actress Jane Fonda, and Viet-Cong apologist Tom Hayden. Her’s her full remarks, titled “An Adjournment in Memory of Fallen Vietnamese And Refugees Seeking Freedom and Democracy“:
I and the children of the former South Vietnam soldiers will never forget the support of former Senator Tom Hayden for the Communist government of Vietnam and the oppression by the Communist Government of Vietnam for the people of Vietnam.
After 40 years, the efforts by people like him have hurt the people of Vietnam and have worked to stop the Vietnamese refugees from coming to the United States, a free country. We will always continue to fight for freedom and human rights for the people of Vietnam.
Members, I recognize today in memory of the million of Vietnamese and the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees who died seeking freedom and democracy. I recognize that on Tuesday you had an opportunity to honor Senator Tom Hayden. With all due respect, I would like to offer another historical perspective.
On Tuesday, instead of participating, I chose to step out of the chamber out of respect to his family, his friends and to you. In contrast to your comments on Tuesday, I want to share what Senator Hayden meant to me and to the over 500,000 Vietnamese Americans who call California their home, as well as to the over 1 million Vietnamese Americans across the United States.
As you may be aware, Tom Hayden chose to work directly with the Communist North Vietnamese Government to oppose the efforts of United States forces in South Vietnam.
Mr. Hayden sided with a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family. Mr. Hayden’s actions are viewed by many as harmful to democratic values and hateful towards those who sought the very freedoms on which this nation is founded.
Were it not for the efforts of the thousands of men and women who served bravely in the United States military and the South Vietnamese military, as well as the efforts of millions of Vietnamese citizens who resisted the communists, I would not be standing here on this Senate floor humbly representing the residents of the 34th District.
In addition to the sacrifices made during war, the efforts of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s allowed many Vietnamese like me to seek refuge in the United States.
In contrast to the great many people who fought to defend freedom and democracy, Mr. Hayden supported a Communist agenda and traveled to North Vietnam during the war.
He believed that those who protested the human-rights violations of the Communists were tools of the CIA. It is known that he believed that the war was a conflict between Imperialism, led by the United States and the “free” people of North Vietnam. Former Senator Hayden was profoundly wrong in his support of the Communist.
Members, to this day, the government of Vietnam continues to violate the basic human rights of its citizens. They systematically continue to oppress freedoms of expression, religion and assembly and incarcerate those who speak out for freedom and democracy.
Thank you for allowing me to make my comments. I proudly stand before you as a Vietnamese-American who appreciates the freedoms that so many around the world do not enjoy.
Here’s a full video of the senator being forcibly removed from the Senate chamber:
Here’s a Twitter recap of the incident:
Nguyen and her family fled communist Vietnam in 1981 and landed in the U.S. as political refugees shortly later. They eventually landed in Garden Grove, a city in Orange County, CA home to many Asian Americans (especially Vietnam). Today, she represents California’s 34th Senate District and is the first Vietnamese-American person to hold such a position. Added bonus: Nguyen is a Republican and has identified as such for a long time. Why? Per an interview in the L.A. Times, she noted: “Republicans always have been anti-communist.” Imagine that?
Nguyen won her State Senate seat in 2015 by a 58-42% vote in a reliably blue district–a race that was viewed as an upset. In 2015, she led the effort to protect the American flag at public universities in California following the incident at UC-Irvine where students voted to ban the flag on campus.
As a fellow child of anti-communists and as a fellow Orange County, CA native, I applaud Senator Nguyen for boldly standing up to her colleagues in the California Senate chamber. Perhaps there is some hope in California? We shall see..