This article, which appeared in one of my Viet Nam-related Google Alerts, jumped off my screen. It was bittersweet news, a loss for Viet Nam and a gain for the USA. As an artist, Mai Khoi will have to find new sources of inspiration and material. I have no doubt she will adapt but the fact of the matter is that she will be living in exile, self-imposed or otherwise.
I’ve followed her career over the years and something that I noticed – with regret and disappointment – is that she allied herself with the US, one of the world’s greatest human rights violators. I would have preferred that she maintain her independence and integrity and kept the US government, including President Barack Obama, at arm’s length. That was her choice and it certainly didn’t help her cause. Obama’s advice was “Just be patient”, which Mai Khoi later used as the title of a song mocking Obama. Lesson learned, I guess.
Like any country, Viet Nam needs patriots, people who love and are devoted to their country, and therefore want to improve it. True patriots seek a closer alignment between a country’s ideals and its reality. If Mai Khoi remains true to her ideals, God knows she’ll find plenty of grist for her artistic mill in her adopted country, including Pittsburgh and the state in which it’s located.
Shalom (שלום), MAA
Postscript: I have a lot to say about IIE’s Artist Protection Fund but need more than a blog post to say it.