This article misrepresents facts and deeply offends the Vietnamese-American community on several counts. Mr. Wheeler claims, for example, that many of us “still feel animosity toward their homeland.”

That statement is 100% wrong. We Vietnamese-Americans feel no animosity toward our homeland. To the contrary, we love our native country deeply. What we abhor is the Communist dictatorship that rules our homeland and its people.

Yes, we do often voice our deep unhappiness with that dictatorship, its suppression of all human rights, including freedom of religion, and its jailing of anyone in Vietnam who dares to speak out against the regime.

In that way, we here in the United States are exercising precious rights forcibly denied to our brothers and sisters in Vietnam, and we will not be silenced, certainly not by a critic who fails to understand the difference between a nation and a government.

Mr. Wheeler criticizes the love we have for the red and yellow flag that Vietnam adopted in 1948 right after we won our independence from France. For us, that flag, not the Communist flag, is a symbol of the freedom and democracy for which millions of Vietnamese died to protect.

We hate the bloody Communist flag; for us it is detested like a swastika. Recognizing our strong patriotic feelings, several states, cities, and counties have indeed adopted the non-Communist flag as our “heritage flag.” Mr. Wheeler deems us “misguided,” but we are not alone. Perhaps he noticed that, in welcoming Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai to Washington, the Bush administration did not hang any Communist flag at the White House or on Pennsylvania avenue.

Mr. Wheeler urges Vietnamese-Americans to overcome the bitterness of the past and to reach out a hand of reconciliation with the Hanoi government. But it takes two to reconciliate. Hanoi has refused to heed the cogent advice of a leading human rights activist, Dr. Nguyen Dan Que. “Before making reconciliation with the Vietnamese community abroad,” Dr. Que wrote, “the Vietnamese government should reconcile with the 80 millions inside the country, first of all by abolishing article 4 of the Vietnamese constitution that gives the Communist Party
monopoly power over the people, by accepting a multi-party sysem, and by organizing free and fair elections.”

For ideas like that Dr. Que has already spent twenty one years in Communist prisons, and he is still under house arrest in Saigon. Pardon us, but the flag of that sort of government we cannot accept.

Quan Nguyen, M.D.

Chairman, International Committee to Support
The Non Violent Movement For Human Rights in Vietnam
4217 Evergreen Lane, Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: ( 703) 354-3825
Cell phone: ( 703) 403-3219.

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