Law­maker’s claim of two Viet­nams just plain wrong

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Ciara O’Rourke

Good morn­ing, Viet­nams. In a speech on the floor of the U.S. House on July 15, Rep. Sheila Jack­son Lee, D-Hous­ton, raised eye­brows when she com­pared the war in Afghanistan with the Viet­nam War.

“I stand here ask­ing us to do what we did not do in Viet­nam, (which) was to rec­og­nize the valiant and out­stand­ing ser­vice of our men and women, and to un­der­stand vic­tory had been achieved,” she said dur­ing the spe­cial or­der speech, which House mem­bers can give on any topic at the end of a day’s leg­isla­tive work.

“To­day, we have two Viet­nams, side by side, North and South, ex­chang­ing and work­ing,” she said. “We may not agree with all that North Viet­nam is do­ing, but they are liv­ing in peace. I would look for a bet­ter hu­man rights record for North Viet­nam, but they are liv­ing side by side.”

Con­ser­va­tive pun­dits and blog­gers are still lam­poon­ing the con­gress­woman, and Jack­son Lee, who earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Yale Uni­ver­sity and is a mem­ber of the House for­eign af­fairs com­mit­tee, backpedaled.

Con­tin­ued from B

“If there was any rea­son to raise a point of con­cern, it was prob­a­bly be­cause I mis­spoke and did not add the phrase, af­ter my dis­cus­sion of North and South Viet­nam, that ‘the nation was united as one,’” she said in a state­ment is­sued the fol­low­ing day.

“How­ever, my point is still ac­cu­rate, and that is that the war be­tween North and South Viet­nam is sim­i­lar to Afghanistan, in that those fight­ing against each other were Viet- namese and now the coun­try lives as one Viet­nam. How­ever, it is South Viet­nam that was con­sumed by North Viet­nam and gov­erned by the poli­cies of North Viet­nam.”

The in­ci­dent is al­ready infa- mous on Jack­son Lee’s en­try in the on­line en­cy­clo­pe­dia Wikipedia, un­der a sec­tion ti­tled “gaffes.” Also noted: In 1997, Jack­son Lee asked a NASA sci­en­tist whether the Mars Pathfinder had pho­tographed the flag that Neil Arm­strong had planted on the moon.

Quick his­tory les­son, com­pli­ments of the CIA World Fact­book: Un­der the 1954 Geneva Ac­cords, Viet­nam was di­vided into the Com­mu­nist North and anti-Com­mu­nist South. The United States’ mil­i­tary pres­ence in South Viet­nam grew dur­ing the 1960s in an at­tempt to bol­ster that govern­ment, but armed forces with­drew in fol­low­ing a cease-fire agree­ment in 1973. Two years later, North Viet­nam con­quered the south, re­unit­ing the two coun­tries un­der Com­mu­nist rule.

To­day, the So­cial­ist Re­pub­lic of Viet­nam is home to both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Jack­son Lee was three decades too late in her ref­er­ence to two Viet­nams. There’s just one now, and just one way to rate her state­ment: False.

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