By Corinne Murdock
During the House floor debate over the budget last week, State Representative Daniel Hernandez (D-Tucson) claimed that white nationalism poses a bigger threat than communism. In just over a century of its existence, the death toll of communism has reached over 100 million. State Representative Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott Valley), a survivor of Vietnam’s communist regime, fired back that Hernandez’s remarks ignored that death toll.
Hernandez made the claim that communism was a minimal threat when he rose to speak in opposition to the K-12 budget bill on Friday. The bill included the requirement that schools teach how political ideologies such as communism and totalitarianism conflict with America’s founding principles of freedom and democracy.
“So, we keep hearing about ‘the threat of communism, it is a great threat, it is such a bad thing.’ You know what’s a bigger threat?” said Hernandez. “White nationalism. The insurrection that happened on January 6. Those are bigger threats to our nation.”
Only one of five deaths that occurred on January 6 can be attributed to the rioters. The woman killed, Rosanne Boyland, was trampled to death by the mob. Another one of the deaths came from a Capitol Hill police officer that shot and killed a woman named Ashley Babbitt. Three of the other deaths occurred naturally; the remaining death was the result of a drug overdose.
“So, yes, let’s talk about communism,” continued Hernandez. “But let’s also talk about making sure that we are not letting people get away with the kinds of things that were happening on January 6, and teaching our kids that it’s okay to try and overthrow a democratically-elected government – with that, I vote nay.”
Cheers and clapping could be heard in the background as Hernandez ended his speech.
Nguyen fired back that Hernandez was taking the issue of communism lightly – mocking the experiences of him and other asylees, even, by suggesting that white nationalism was the bigger threat.
Nguyen sought political asylum at 12 years old from the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) in April 1975 – a week before the Fall of Saigon.
“I’m not a big talker,” said Nguyen. “And, you know, I stood back there and I listened to everybody, and I just got irritated so I came over here and pressed the white button. Is it okay if I say ‘white button?’”
Nguyen paused when his quip inspired laughter. He continued.
“You know, I just recently heard somebody say that […] communism is not the enemy, but white nationalism [is]. So, let me tell you something about white nationalism. White nationalism didn’t drown 250,000 Vietnamese in the South China sea. The communists did. White nationalism did not execute 86,000 South Vietnamese at the Fall of Saigon. Communists did. White nationalism did not put me here. Communism did. So don’t take it lightly. Don’t mock me. Don’t mock what I go through in life. It’s rough. I lost most of my cousins, my family members due to communism. If we don’t stand up to teach communism to our children, we’ll lose this country. So sir, don’t mock me.”
Corinne Murdock is a contributing reporter for AZ Free News. In her free time, she works on her books and podcasts. Follow her on Twitter, @CorinneMurdock or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org