Janet Nguyen received an apology of sorts from the Democrat-controlled California State Senate after she was silenced and physically removed from the legislative chamber in Sacramento last Thursday after attempting to voice criticism about the late Tom Hayden, an anti-Vietnam War activist.
Nguyen, a Republican who represents the 34th district in the Orange County area, is the first Vietnamese-American state senator in the U.S. and the country’s first Vietnamese-American woman state legislator.
Jane Fonda’s ex-husband, a former California state senator, Hayden passed away in October. According to Sen. Nguyen, she was attempting to provide a different historical perspective about Vietnam than what was presented two days earlier during a senate tribute for Hayden.
Beginning her speech on February 23 in Vietnamese, the senator who was born in Saigon switched to English after which Democrats raised objections as depicted in the video embedded below.
Lawmakers then interrupted Nguyen and cut off her microphone, and security forcibly removed her in an encounter that might perhaps remind some of the final courtroom scene in the Al Pacino movie And Justice for All.
“It was the Senate’s presiding officer of the day, Sen. Ricardo Lara (D), who instructed the sergeants at arms to escort Nguyen from the floor. He later apologized. And Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D) promised an investigation,” PJ Media noted.
Reacting to the incident, Senator de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, said on Monday that “last Thursday was not one of the finest moments of the Senate. Like many of you, I was troubled and unsettled by the actions last week. As the leader of this body, I take full responsibility for what transpired and for making sure it never happens again,” the Sacramento Bee reported.
A bipartisan committee in the state legislature will supposedly investigate what the GOP calls a fundamental violation of freedom of speech.
Sen. Nguyen, 40, and her family became refugee boat people when they fled Vietnam after the communists took control of the entire country as U.S. forces withdrew. They later resettled in California. Approximately 500,000 Vietnamese Americans reside in the Golden State.
— Jazmine Ulloa (@jazmineulloa) February 27, 2017
After de Leon’s remarks, Nguyen told her colleagues that “Thursday’s events were shocking and distressing. But what happened today on the floor reaffirms my faith in America’s deep belief in the democratic process and freedom of speech. I am pleased to know that my colleagues recognize, that regardless of party or differences in opinion, every district voice deserves to be heard on this floor.”
In an op-ed published last Saturday in the Orange County Register, Janet Nguyen wrote, in part, about the legacy of Vietnam as it relates to her family and her constituency.
“…I was born in Vietnam and my father and uncle served in the South Vietnamese Army. My uncle was executed by the communists and my father was sought for a ‘re-education’ camp. As a result, we fled on a 10-meter wooden boat across the South Asia Sea to find freedom and were fortunate to find refuge in the United States, a nation founded on the principles of freedom and democracy. t was in the interest of representing the residents of the 34th district, home to the largest community of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam, that I felt compelled to tell my colleagues what Sen. Hayden’s support of the communist regime meant to the Vietnamese-American community…I am deeply disappointed with the majority party leadership’s actions because they didn’t just silence my voice, they silenced the voices of the more than 930,000 residents I represent…”
— Christine Mai-Duc (@cmaiduc) February 25, 2017
According to the Los Angeles Times, Janet Nguyen has become a folk hero for the GOP as it met in its state convention last weekend. The incident may help Republicans regain a foothold in California.
“Attendees sported ‘I stand with Janet’ stickers. A video describing the plight of Nguyen’s family in South Vietnam and their escape to the United States when she was a child was screened. Nguyen, 40, received a hero’s welcome and a standing ovation before she led the Pledge of Allegiance,” the Times explained about the apparent new California political star Janet Nguyen.
[Featured Image by Rich Pedroncelli/AP Images]