Dear My Fellow Americans,
Imagine one day you wake up to a post that reads “America prided itself on leading the world in morality and egalitarianism. But the country’s luck may be running out as trust in American journalism has hit a new low.” How would you react?
On June 2, 2021, The New York Times published an article titled 'Spared for Months, Vietnam Faces a Wave of New Infections' and tweeted “Vietnam prided itself on successfully containing the coronavirus. But the country’s luck may be running out as it faces an outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City and the emergence of a new variant.” As you can imagine, this has provoked anger, disbelief, and disappointment in many people around the world when one of the most prestigious American publishers chose “luck,” out of many other word choices, to describe Vietnam’s extensive preparation effort, cooperative sentiment, solidarity, commitment, and resilience in managing the pandemic situation since the early stage.
What does this narrative teach the next generations about the value of hard work? Are we teaching them that praying for “luck” to be on their side is how to achieve success?
Vietnam, situated right below China, with a population of more than 96 million people, nearly a third of America’s, and covers a total area slightly above the size of the state of New Mexico, despite limited resources and seeing an increasing number of cases recently as a result of the new UK-Indian variant, has managed to control the number of deaths at 53 cases to-date, only 0.009% compared to America. So what part of this is attributed to “luck”? And who would even think to make a prediction that a country’s “luck” is running out as if the global pandemic alone is not brutal enough?
Vietnamese people and many others around the world have directly shared their anger and dispute about this unfair narrative. However, it’s been four days and there’s still no action taken and no apology from The New York Times. It might be just an article and a tweet that drive traffic and engagement for a big publisher, but it undermines all the tremendous effort and effectiveness of the Vietnamese government and more than 96 million Vietnamese people in minimizing the spread of the coronavirus, painting a misleading portrayal of a nation that takes pride in unity, discipline, dedication, community care, and commitment since the very beginning of the pandemic, which was also barely highlighted on the mainstream media.
You know how it feels to be oppressed. You know how it feels when your voice isn’t heard. You know how it feels when your story is distorted. You know how it feels when your contribution and hard work are undermined. This is not what American values are about. This is not what America represents. We’ve joined you in advocating for equality. We’ve joined you in amplifying underrepresented voices and marginalized communities. Not only right here in America but also from half the world away in Vietnam. But who will amplify our voices? Or do we actually have a voice at all? Are we heard? Are we seen? What should we do? And for many Vietnamese people who love America like me, how should we feel?
The New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/02/world/asia/vietnam-covid-ho-chi-minh.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur
The New York Times tweet: https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1400029459965747206
'Luck, a thread': https://www.instagram.com/p/CPrRFVmBTUa/
[***UPDATE: Email was also sent to the NYT’s Correction team; however, we still haven’t received any response from the publisher to date]