The Myth of the Vietnamese Communist Liberation

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryThis year marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. military withdrawal from South Vietnam. Two years later, the North Vietnamese Army, along with the Communist Vietcong guerrillas, smashed their way through South Vietnam and captured the country’s capital Saigon. Of course, the Vietnamese Communists claimed that they had “liberated” South Vietnam and the Vietnamese people from American domination. Sadly enough, there are many American academics and historians who seem to believe in the same thing. In the view of some of these armchair historians, the U.S. government should not have gotten involved in the conflict between the two Vietnams, and should have just let elections be held between the two. These academics believe that the Vietnamese Communists would have won these elections and South Vietnam would have been peacefully united with North Vietnam.

Well, this would most likely not have happened. Two important segments of the Vietnamese population, the Vietnamese Roman Catholics and the followers of Cao Dai, did not like the Vietnamese Communists, and both resisted any Communist takeover of South Vietnam. In fact, most of the Vietnamese Catholics came from North Vietnam. As part of the Geneva Accords signed in 1954, all Vietnamese who wanted to go to either North or South Vietnam could go. Over one million Vietnamese Catholics fled the Communists and resettled in South Vietnam, the same was true for the followers of Cao Dai—a Vietnamese religion that is a mix of Buddhism, Christianity and the Confucian ethic. Both of these religious groups had been brutally persecuted by the Communists, and they most certainly would not have wanted a unified Vietnam under Communist rule.

In fact, most still did not. Most of these people joined the South Vietnamese armed forces and worked within the South Vietnamese government to try and prevent a Communist takeover from 1965 to 1975. These two religious groups, and many other South Vietnamese, fought tooth and nail against a Communist takeover of South Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese Catholics and followers of Cao Dai fled Vietnam after the Communist takeover in 1975. They became part of the mass escape known as the “boat people.” Most of these refugees would settle in the United States. Many Catholics and Cao Dai followers were either executed or put into labor camps by the Communists after the war. But it should be made clear that a more “peaceful” take over of South Vietnam back in 1954 would NOT have meant a more peaceful and prosperous country. We now know that the Communists would have persecuted and slaughtered the Catholics and Cao Dai followers because the Communists saw them as a threat. I guess in still too many ways the victors write the history.

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