As a regular commentator on Vietnam, and having written several articles on its Communist government’s Covid-19 response in recent months, I agree fully with (Bill) Hayton. -David Hutt, Asia Times
Of course, he does. David (DH) and Bill (BH) are two peas in a pod when it comes to Viet Nam. They’re not only “peas in a pod” but also members of their own two-member mutual admiration society, if their mutually fawning Tweets are any indication. Here’s how their steamy bromance played out in a recent exchange:
BH: Great article, David!
DH: Thanks, Bill! I’ll return the favor after your next brilliant article is published. What are friends for?
BH & DH: Together, we and other entitled, nationalistic, and white male journalists and experts can change the trending global hashtag from #AsianCentury back to #UKEmpire and #USEmpire! Like the US a la Karl Rove and Baby Bush, we will create our own reality!
More importantly, they both have an ax to grind, do so at every opportunity and with a vengeance. Here’s my “double take” on BH’s contribution to the “repression” debate: short and long versions. I can only assume that his compatriot buddy was inspired to write a “more nuanced” follow-up.
These two are so predictable that they’ve become caricatures of themselves. Whenever I see their names and “Viet Nam” together, I know it’s going to be an anti-Viet Nam hit piece. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what makes them tick and whose water they carry. I offer a well-documented explanation for BH in this article. I don’t think I’ll waste my time doing the same for DH. To use one of my favorite expressions, Life is short. Plus, there are others who have his name on a rhetorical bullseye.
Both media outlets, Asia Times (AT) & Foreign Policy (FP), share blame for publishing this rubbish. If there’s any doubt as to whose ax they’re grinding, just have a look at the other articles on their websites. Whose narrative are they promoting? Let me give you a hint, dear reader. FP: anti-China, anti-Russia, anti-Venezuela; generally pro-USA with the requisite criticism of the current administration. AT: Similar playbook.
A UK-Educated Vietnamese Strikes Back!
Here’s a social media comment from NLM, a Vietnamese national employed by the UN, that demolishes both armchair journalists in question and their articles. He’s clearly got their number. You can almost smell the smoke and feel the heat.
Just read another Western news article that doubles down on the “Vietnam beats COVID-19 because of repression” narrative. It also claims (again), without evidence, that because the Vietnamese government are bad guys, they must have concealed COVID-19 deaths, because of course, how dare a backward country like Vietnam NOT have fatalities while enlightened beacons of civilisation in the West have thousands of them?
This is despite various attempts at verification by a bevy of Western and other international press as well as repeated statements from international experts that confirm the accuracy of the case numbers.
Being curious, I looked up the author to check his expertise on the subject matter. Apparently, he has been writing about Asia for close to two decades, but is mainly based in… Czech Republic and Britain??
Looking further, apparently this is a commonplace phenomenon, especially within the political/”security” journalism sector: typically white (and male) writers in top publications, with tangential reporting experience on the ground in Asia at best, yet writing about Asian countries with an air of certainty, even authority. Yes, there is a sense that those writers, mostly from an Anglo-Saxon background, must be trusted, even more so than “local” journos.
Imagine an Asian journalist writing about Europe while not being based there. Who would listen to them? Who would give them a prominent position in an international news site?
Maybe it’s high time we stop giving a pass to white male journalists who know so little about what they write yet act as if they are arbiters of truth and facts.
My favorite response: Colonialism legacy at its best, mate, with a slight white supremacist touch. Sometimes, it takes integrity to be a real expert. Indeed, a quality that both journalists are clearly lacking. I would add that this critical stance is yet another sign that Viet Nam is coming of age. The days of unbridled respect for all things foreign are coming to an end, thank god. The bloom is definitely fading from the foreign rose, a positive aspect of globalization and another indication of Viet Nam’s ascendancy in the community of nations.
On a side note, I would love to see a debate between these two armchair journalists and NLM and one other Vietnamese who holds the same position. Post it on YouTube and Facebook with Vietnamese subtitles, plus additional commentary in Vietnamese. Truth over lies, objectivity over bias.
As I mentioned to NLM, I’m happy to see so much pushback among young Vietnamese. The times they are a-changin’!
Shalom (שלום), MAA
Postscript: If the spirit moves you, share your feedback with one or both journalists and the outlets that peddled their hit pieces.
davidhutt1990(@)gmail.com – admin(@)asiatimes.com (or via Twitter: @asiatimesonline)
bill.hayton(@)bbc.co.uk (or via Twitter: @bill_hayton) – FP editor-in-chief is jonathan.tepperman(@)foreignpolicy.com (or via Twitter: @ForeignPolicy)
Be nice! 😉