California state Democrats unwittingly created a new GOP star last Thursday when they forcefully removed a Republican Vietnamese refugee from the Senate chamber.
That refugee was state Sen. Janet Q. Nguyen, whose family fled communist Vietnam during the early 1980s to escape the country’s harsh post-war conditions.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Nguyen had been trying to speak out on the floor last week against the late Sen. Tom Hayden’s pro-communist Vietnam activism. Hayden, who died in October, had been memorialized in the state Assembly a day earlier, and Nguyen merely wanted to offer a different — and perhaps more realistic — perspective on his legacy.
(Hayden was a prominent anti-war activist throughout the ’60s, making several trips to North Vietnam. In 1974, he made a third trip with his then-wife, anti-war actress Jane Fonda.)
“Members, today I recognize in memory the millions of Vietnamese and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees who died in seeking for freedom and democracy,” she began. “On Tuesday, you had an opportunity to honor Sen. Tom Hayden. With all due respect, I would like to offer another historical perspective …”
She never had a chance to finish her speech, as she was interrupted by presiding Sen. Ricardo Lara (a Democrat, of course), told she was out of order and then forcefully removed after she refused to stop speaking, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.
Bad move, Democrats.
The outrage since the Feb. 23 incident has been deafening. Even California’s traditionally liberal pundits piled on, with local columnist after local columnist blasting state Democrats for this “foolish, embarrassing deed,” as Los Angeles Times commentator George Skelton put it.
“Many of the same politicians, after all, seem to be spending every waking moment trying to protect Latinos who, unlike Nguyen, migrated to this country illegally … But where’s the compassion for a legal immigrant colleague who was living the American dream until Democrats briefly turned it into a nightmare?” he wrote.
Excellent point. Apparently, only certain types of immigrants — namely the illegal type — deserve any sympathy from the left. Typical.
The irony was that the Democrats’ boorish behavior wound up being a godsend for the Vietnamese-born senator. For instance, after the incident she was offered a last-minute speaking invitation to the California GOP convention, where members of the audience were observed wearing “I stand with Janet” stickers, according to the East Bay Times.
Of course, some Democrats have tried to deflect from their behavior by pointing to the way Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the Senate floor last month. There was just one problem: Warren had actually violated a Senate rule, whereas Nguyen had not.
California Senate President Kevin de León has since reportedly taken full responsibility for Nyugen’s controversial ejection, according to the Los Angeles Times, and promised to never allow it to happen again. For the sake of his party — and democracy in California — let’s just hope he meant it.
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