Glossary

 

ARVN

Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam.

In Vietnam: After a military coup in the Republic of Vietnam, they were indistinguishable from the government. For this reason, we often use the term as shorthand for the rulers of the Saigon regime.

In Canada: a number of loosely affiliated organizations that represent ARVN political interests today. Some of their behaviours today suggest that they consider themselves a a government-in-exile.

Former ARVN are readily identifiable in Canada because they always appear with their national flag -- the yellow flag with three red stripes. Many refer to these people as "the yellow flag".

Quân lực Việt Nam Cộng hòa. QLVNCH.

boat people

On this web site we use the term with a very specific meaning: the refugees who were admitted to Canada from Southeast Asia in cooperation with a well-defined international UNHCR program that ran from 1979 to 1996. These are the people who were welcomed to Canada in part through the private sponsorship programs. Note that not all actually left their home country by boat and not all came from Vietnam.

In our strict use of the term it is not possible for a person to choose to self-identify as a boat person. You were either in the Canada-UNHCR program or you weren't. The people who left Vietnam in 1975 by US military transport were not boat people.

chauvinistic

"An irrational belief in the superiority or dominance of one's own group or people" On this web site, it is how we describe the western idea that the Vietnam war was fought to stop communism from spreading instead of to defeat colonialism.

Thuộc về long yêu nước.

communist

In the language of the Vietnamese in Canada, a "communist" is anyone who is not a supporter of the Saigon regime. We often put the word in quotations because this is not the normal definition.

This reflects the western-chauvinistic view of the conflicts in Vietnam, once espoused by the Americans and still espoused by the former ruling elite of Saigon and the government of Canada. It is intended to marginalize the target who, in Canada at least, is not likely to hold any communist political beliefs..

Journey to Freedom Day is essentially an expression of hatred of "communists" by this definition.

diversity

When we use this term in relation to Canada's Vietnamese community we are, first of all, pointing out that the community does not conform to the stereotype which has it that most or all are "victims of the fall of Saigon", that is, ethnic kinh from the South with ties to the former French colonial regime.

When Canada admitted 160,000 people from Vietnam after 1979, they came from all over Vietnam, many were ethnic Chinese, and they had a variety of political views on the Republic of Vietnam. In fact, most of the stereotypical people went to the US, not Canada.

dog whistle

A statement, usually made by a politician, that different audiences interpret in different ways. For example, a politician who says "the ARVN speaks for the Vietnamese Canadian community" would be heard by some as stating a chauvinistic misconception and by others as giving an order to observe a new political reality.

Tủ có chứa ẩn ý.

false equivalence fallacy

"two things with an anecdotal similarity are treated as equal, but the claim of equivalence doesn't bear out because the similarity is based on oversimplification or ignorance of relevant additional factors".

We use this in reference to the claim that the fall of Saigon and the boat people crisis can be referred to as a single event. The equivalency allows us to pick characteristics out of either event and pretend that they apply to both events.

False analogy - when we draw a conclusion from the false equivalence, such as an homage to Saigon can also serve as an homage to the boat people.

Sai lầm tương đương sai

See Fallacies explained

false dilemma fallacy

A fallacy where a situation is claimed to be an either/or situation when in fact there are more options. As used on this web site, it refers to the idea that a Vietnamese person who does not support the Saigon regime must be a communist.

Also called a false dichotomy. Ngụy biện đen trắng. Ngụy biện rẽ đôi.

See Fallacies explained

historical negationism

Historical negationism is the falsification or distortion of the historical record to serve partisan or ideological purposes in the present.

In Canada, the aim of such work is (a) to change the origin story of Canada's Vietnamese community to legitimize and rehabilitate the Saigon military regime and (b) to marginalize all Vietnamese Canadians who do not identify as nationals of the Saigon regime.

This is sometimes incorrectly called "historical revisionism". Both terms refer to the revision of history, but for different purposes.

See Historical negationism.

identity

As we generally use the term on this web site we mean "the qualities of a group that make them different from others". This would include things such as ethnicity, place of origin, cultural or religious beliefs, political beliefs, and similar group characteristics.

Journey to Freedom Day

The designation given to April 30 by the Government of Canada in bill S-219.

This is the sanitized name chosen for what was formerly known as Black April Day by the former ARVN military. Bill S-219 was renamed after the parliamentary debate had already begun. The body of the bill acknowledges the connection to Black April Day.

McCarthyism

Paranoia about an internal communist threat. The name comes from the "red scare" that occurred in the US in the 1940's and the 1950's that led to the US's unwise decision to get involved in Vietnam.

The movement served the Saigon regime well and so the former Saigon leaders are encouraging the movement to develop again in Canada. They found a receptive target in the Harper government.

Chủ nghĩa McCarthy. Sự hoang tưởng về một mối đe dọa cộng sản nội bộ

NLF

National Liberation Front. An umbrella organization formed in South Vietnam to coordinate the groups fighting the Saigon regime. Among the founding members were both communist and non-communist people. The NLF and their associate organizations were colloquially known as the "Viet Cong", a derogatory term that was meant to label them as communists. The NLF's main military wing was called the People's Liberation Armed Forces.

The NLF was eventually absorbed by the communists, a fact that is now used to support the fallacy that they were always communists.

non-partisan

We use this term as shorthand for the position Canada took on the Vietnam war. It is shorthand for a more complex relationship, but Canada did not fight for any of the combatants in the war and did not sense a moral obligation to help at the fall of Saigon. See Canada and Vietnam 1945-1973

origin story

"A backstory, or background narrative, that informs the identity and motivations of a group of people."

The Canadian Vietnamese community has two competing backstories. That conflict is a definition of what this web site is about.

PAVN

Peoples Army of Vietnam -- the military of North Vietnam.

Quân Đội Nhân Dân Việt Nam. QDNDVN.

refugee

We use the term "refugee" to mean someone who came to Canada as part of a well-defined refugee program of the Canadian government. Such programs are normally carried out in cooperation with UNHCR.

By this definition, no refugees were admitted to Canada from Vietnam before 1979.

In common usage, any person can choose to self-identify as a "refugee" based on their own personal experience. A small number of the Vietnamese in Canada do it as a political statement. We do not accept that as valid in this historical narrative.

There is a UN treaty that defines the term in a strict legal sense. In that sense, few of the people who came from Vietnam would qualify as refugees because most were not screened against that legal definition. UNHCR programs do not always follow the strict UN definition, and Canadian law does not require the UN definition to be followed.

Republic of Vietnam

Republic of Vietnam is the formal name for South Vietnam. This American-backed successor to the French-imposed State of Vietnam existed only from 1955 to 1975. The regime was a "military junta" from 1963-1967. Under US pressure it adopted a constitution in 1967, but the same general remained in charge until moments before the regime collapsed in 1975.

On this web site we generally follow the common convention of referring to it by the name of its capital city, Saigon.

Việt Nam Cộng hòa (VNCH)

revised history

We use this as a shorthand reference to all the work that the government has done to convince Canadians that the boat people arrived in 1975 because of the fall of Saigon.

The aim of that work is (a) to change the origin story of Canada's Vietnamese community to legitimize and rehabilitate the Saigon military regime and (b) to marginalize all Vietnamese Canadians who do not identify as nationals of the Saigon regime.

The proper label for this activity is "historical negationism". Both terms refer to the revision of history, but for different purposes.

Saigon

We often use the name of the capital city as a shorthand reference to the government and military of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). This is a common English convention, not unique to this web site.

We generally use "Saigon" for "Republic of Vietnam" because few Canadians would know what the Republic of Vietnam is.

Saigon regime

An informal name for The Republic of Vietnam or South Vietnam. This American-backed successor to the French-imposed State of Vietnam existed only from 1955 to 1975.

The regime was a "military junta" from 1963-1967. Under US pressure it adopted a constitution in 1967, but the same general remained in charge until moments before the regime collapsed in 1975.

third force

People who, during the Vietnam war, rejected both the communists and the Saigon regime. These would be people who were hoping for self-determination and democracy for Vietnam.

The term was popularized by the Graham Greene novel "The Quiet American", but the third force portrayed therein in was just a caricature. In practice the idea of a third force was at least imagined, if not organized, by a large number of people in Vietnam.

Toronto Cenotaph

A memorial to Canada's war dead from the two world wars and the Korean war. Other groups have tried to used it for their own memorials, but that has been controversial and Toronto has intermittently prohibited such uses.

Canada was not a combatant in the Vietnam war and so has no war dead from that one. When the ARVN uses it as a memorial, they are using it in the controversial sense, for their own war dead.

Tuong Niem Ngay Quoc Han

"National memorial day of hatred". This frequently appears on banners at Journey to Freedom Day events.

UNHCR

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Vietnamese Canadian

As we generally use the term on this web site, a Canadian who came, or whose ancestors came, from anywhere in Vietnam. As we use this term, it does not define a person's ethnicity. Vietnamese Canadians are a multi-ethnic group, incorporating among other things a large number of ethnic Chinese (Hoa).

We prefer the more precise term "Canadian of Vietnamese origin" (Người Canada Gốc Việt).

Vietnam war

Many interpretations of the Vietnam war have arisen over the years primarily to serve particular political agendas. Although historians, the Vietnamese, and past Canadian governments have all settled on one authentic interpretation, the Canadian Government after 2008 started to see it to be politically expedient to revisit the issue. That made it necessary for the government to also revisit the issue of Vietnamese refugees in Canada.

Kháng chiến chống Mỹ

yellow flag

The yellow flag with three red stripes - the national flag of the defunct Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). In Vietnamese (cờ vàng) the term is also used to refer to the people who obsessively identify themselves with the yellow flag, generally the former military and government of the Republic.

The yellow flag is NOT "the flag of Vietnamese Canadians" and not the flag of Vietnam.