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Freedom of Speech? Say what?

Obviously, one of the greatest perks of living in the United States is having the right to express ourselves freely in any way without persecution. On that note, how do Americans define freedom of speech? Is it one person’s freedom and not someone else’s

Recently, VAALA, or Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association planned an art show featuring over fifty works of art created by many Vietnamese Americans. However, early this week, VAALA shut down their art gallery amidst negative remarks from many of Little Saigon’s Vietnamese Americans. For those of you who are not familiar with this story, some of the artwork that was going to be on displayed featured the current Vietnamese flag and a bust of Ho Chi Minh. Not surprisingly, these images sparked protests this week in Little Saigon.

I have different sentiments towards these images. As a matter of fact, I do not like some of them. These individuals have every right to convey their feelings through their artwork, whether or not we agree with their message. As Vietnamese Americans, we are the lucky ones to have escaped from a dictarial hand that persecuted us for speaking freely, practing our religious beliefs, expressing our political opposition. In this case, are we not doing the same exact thing the Vietnamese government did to us and continues to do to our fellow Vietnamese brothers and sisters in our homeland? We have every right to protest, don’t get me wrong. However, we must realize that with freedom of speech comes acceptance – allowing others to express their sentiments even if we disagree with it.

For Gazans, 2009 ushered in more than four Israeli air strikes. The current on-going conflict in the Middle East has been escalating for the past five or six days. Over three hundred Palestinians have been killed, while thousands have been severely wounded. Unfortunately, most of the wounded are not receiving the urgent medical care they need because it has been very difficult for organizations to bring humanitarian aid into the war-torn region.

When the New Year’s ball dropped in New York and John Lennon’s “Imagine” filled the confetti-littered streets of Time’s Square. The only thing on my mind was the current situation in the Middle East. The photographs of the blood-stained faces of Israeli and Palestinian children that I saw earlier on television was on my mind. I am sure New Year’s resolutions of the majority of people around the world this year included peace. I think everyone could use some peace, right now, especially those Palestinian and Israeli children I saw on television. In my honest opinion, Israel has no right to attack Gaza and Hamas has no right to attack Israel. Further more, I strongly am against the idea of Israel deploying ground troops into the region. No matter what your view(s) are on this conflict, we can all agree on one thing: bloodshed is never, ever the answer to ANY of our problems we may have with one another.

I pray for shalom, salaam, peace in the region. I pray that world leaders make the right decisions with the ultimate goal being: shalom, salaam, peace. I hope all world leaders take into account the hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli children clinging onto their lives.

And all the through the United States, Sarah Palin was donating her dresses while a shirtless President-Elect Obama surfed the Hawaiian waves.

I think this year’s Christmas will  definitely be different from previous ones. Obviously, the economy is playing a huge role on the holidays as the majority of Americans are trying to cut back from buying extravagant items and try other routes of gift-giving. Needless to say, my biggest hope is that all of us can find one way or another to enjoy the holidays to their fullest. This is the time of year where you chug down egg-nog with friends and family, try on that 200th wool sweater grandma knitted for you…you get the idea. Yes, the struggling economy and current war will be on everyones’ minds,  perhaps we all could try and put those issus on the back-burner? Let’s take a break from all of this stress and spend time with our family and friends. Let’s try to get back the holiday spirit we are all desperately seeking and in need of.

One last note: don’t forget to leave the cookies and a cold glass of 2% milk (Santa does not need to gain more weight, unless he wants Jenny Craig to pay a visit) out for Santa.

Holy Cao!

Louisiana elects first Vietnamese-American in US Congress

WASHINGTON (AFP) — An immigration attorney has scored an upset election defeat in the southern state of Louisiana, and in January will become the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress, US media said Sunday.

Anh “Joseph” Cao, 41, a little known Republican immigration lawyer from New Orleans, unseated nine-term veteran lawmaker William Jefferson, a Democrat, in an election runoff Saturday, according to the New Orleans Times Picayne newspaper.

Cao garnered 50 percent of the vote against Jefferson’s 47 percent.

Cao, who fled war-ravaged Saigon as a child and arrived in the United States as an eight-year-old, now will represent Jefferson’s primarily African-American district, mostly Democratic district.

This is a great day for all Vietnamese Americans! I am truly inspired by Congressmen Cao’s preserverence and his constant will to want to achieve change, equality for all human beings. Individuals like President-elect Barack Obama, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and now Congressmen Cao define the meaning of the ‘American dream’. My best wishes go out to Congressmen Cao and his family, friends. The sky is limitless for this guy!

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is receiving their share of stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, and pies.

Unfortunately, this day has been overshadowed by continous fighting between Indian forces and various terrorists in Mumbai, India. My condolences and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families. These attacks do not surprise me as various cities in India have been bomb in the past several years. If I am correct, Mumbai was bombed by another group (SMI, I think) two years ago which left 187 people dead. I cannot imagine this attack does not have a Pakistani connection. I believe it was brought up how the group responsible for these attacks most likely wanted to “raise awareness” of the current situtation in Kashmir. Either way, these attacks will further strain Indian-Pakistani relations, which is disappointing because things were beginning to look up after Zadari was elected to office.

The Mumbai attacks, as well as, the current government problems in Thailand, have made me count my blessings even more. As a U.S. citizen, I live in a society where freedom of speech, religion, etc. are the backbone of our politics and life. All Americans should be thankful for having the priviledge to live in a country where we have the resources and importantly, chances to achieve our dreams, regardless of our situations.

It’s Been Awhile….

It feels like I have not written in months! I apologize for my recent absence, as I have been consumed with school and combatted final exams this past week. Needless to say, hopefully, things will start to slow down a bit for me and I will get a chance to catch my breath!

Last night, I was flipping through the channels and saw on CNN that Hilary Clinton will be named Barack Obama’s Sec. of State after Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what my feelings are on this possible selection, but if it turns out to be Clinton, I hope she will do a stellar job.

A New Era Dawns

obama

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of red states and blue states; we are, and always will be, the United States of America. President Barack Obama’s Victory Speech (November 4th, 2008)

As the final polls closed on the West Coast, Americans were feeling jubilant, energized awaiting Barack Obama’s victory speech, as he had over the 270 electorate votes needed to win. I cannot fathom how excited and happy I am with this beautiful victory.

I hope all Americans take the time to realize this is our time to change our nation for the better. The majority of Americans feel that our goals and ideals have not been met over the past eight years. Now is the time to step up and take action. Change does not happen over night, instead it is through the sweat, tears, and importantly, sacrifices of millions and millions of Americans. The road to the White House has certainly been a long defining journey. We need to try our best to keep our nation walking upright, down the correct path.

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