VAALA stands for Vietnamese-American Arts & Letters Association. This is a nonprofit organization founded with the intention of promoting Vietnamese-American artists, writers and film makers. The original driving force behind VAALA was the largest Vietnamese-American newspaper in southern California, Nguoi Viet. Le Dinh Y Sa, the executive director, is a champion of VAALA and has spent tiredless efforts promoting its causes.
Recently, touting its current exhibit as one of the hottest events in Santa Ana, VAALA announced the opening of " FOB II: Art Speaks ". The main attraction of the exhibit is a provocative photograph of a bust of the Great Uncle Ho Chi Minh, the founder of the French Communist Party as well as Indochina Communist Party and one of the most influential people in the 20th century (according to Time Magazine), positions next to a young woman gazing nostagically while wearing a blood red tank top with prominent Yellow Star on her chest (for those who don't not know, the tank top is designed to resemble the official flag of the communist party).
In a lenghthy justification of the exhibit, VAALA had translated into Vietnamese commentaries written specifically for VAALA from Lan Duong, assistant professor of women's studies at UC Riverside and Mariam Lam, assistant professor of comparative literature at UC Riverside. They both are Vietnamese by heritage.
The week long exhibit so far is not a big attraction with hardly anybody shows up for viewing. The main Vietnamese-American media in southern California for now choose not to cover it.
But the organizers will get the attention that they had sought with some of the anti-communist groups in Wesminster and Garden Grove planning a small demonstration this Saturday.
It is well known within the community that Hao Nhien, the popular blogger, is the husband of Le Dinh Y Sa.
Hao Nhien was let go from Nguoi Viet Daily News along with two other colleagues as part of a management shake-up. The new ownership, basically, Do ngoc Yen's daughter and her new husband (an engineer from San Jose) and other major shareholders finally had enough with the two consecutive faux pas that costed Nguoi Viet millions of dollars as well as its reputation. The first was the printing of a New Year poem praising the current communist regime, the second of a lesser sin was the now infamous picture of the foot spa decorated with the graphic of the Freedom Flag.
The irony here of course is Y Sa is the daughter of the late Le dinh Dieu, one of the original co-founders of Nguoi Viet Newspaper along with Do ngoc Yen. The well respected Le dinh Dieu was an author/writer and spent a short period in the communist concentration camp for his anti-communist view.
Many people in southern California are now either jaded or sick and tired of communist red baiting and labeling. After all, the most pro-communist public figure of them all, as being labeled by the State Assemblyman Van Tran, is County Supervisor Janet Nguyen. If LSI recalled properly, she trounced the anti-communist flag waving "The Van Gang" of Trung Nguyen, Dina Nguyen and Hoa Tran at the poll all in one year.
It is interesting to see how the legacy of a war 2 generations removed somewhat still haunts even the youngest generation that hardly knows their own history or speak their mother tongue properly. The freedom of speech and expression of one's view is the corner stone of this great nation of immigrants. However, to exploit such privileges with the intention of provoking hurtful memories of a community that has to rise from despair and total destruction by the most evil force in the 20th century is incomprehensible.