Little Saigon debacle over… for now…

San Jose City Hall

According to this morning’s edition of the San Jose Mercury News, San Jose’s City Hall is now at peace after the “Little Saigon” fiasco. With that resolved, it also brings Ly Tong’s fasting to an end.

What happened? Apparently Vice Mayor Cortese’s earlier recommendation of private funding for signs along the area was heeded by councilman Sam Liccardo, along with Mayor Chuck Reed (Yay Dave! — I live in his district). What doesn’t appear to be clear from the article was whether Councilwoman Madison Nguyen was involved in drafting the proposal.

For now, it appears the city will be distancing itself from the issue.

The approach makes sense — why this was not done before things got out of control is a bit curious. Gauging various stories on the issue, most link the issue’s escalation to a lack of leadership by Mayor Chuck Reed. Whether that’s true or not is not for me to say… but something went wrong.

The path that the supporters of “Little Saigon” took is still a bit puzzling to me. The only thing I can think of is the emotions representative of a people who were displaced from their homes due to Communism led them to this path. There were those who strongly opposed any formal discussion of renaming this section of Silicon Valley real estate, while there were also those who were willing to pursue some recognition and preservation of their culture in a country they now call their home. I think this might be key to the whole thing. Yes… despite what naysayers may think, this is their home, just as the Italians, Irish, Chinese, Japanese and a countless number of immigrants made the good old U S of A their home. I think it’s probably fair to say that the same criticisms of the Vietnamese community can be equally extended to every immigrant group in American history.

Was this necessarily the right path? While it all seems a bit extreme, only time and history will tell. Also, despite the seeming polarization of the community, not to mention anyone who had something to say about the issue, I think we should consider what this means for everyone, not just the Vietnamese community.

What does this all mean? Well, thanks to some great professors I had in college many moons ago, and my involvement in my own community, I learned that mono-cultures breed fear and intolerance towards anyone that doesn’t blend in. In food speak, the reality is that our country is not a melting pot (I like to say fondue), it’s really a nice stew, where almost every ingredient is still recognizable. While not as refined as a fondue, each ingredient in it’s lumpy goodness is bathed in a thick gravy that suspends each ingredient uniquely, but in a single recipe to create a stew. That’s pretty much America – each culture is still uniquely identified but each is American.

What have we learned from this? In the end, probably nothing as politics goes.

However, as citizens, I think it’s easy to forget that we create the communities we live in… not some bureaucrat that said the right things to get voted into office. Maybe we should all create a little passion of our own to build the communities and the homes we want…

As my wife told me a long time ago, home is where we live, love and play… and that could be anywhere.

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