This article by Joel Brinkley really upset me today. Whatever I wanted to say to this professor of journalism at Stanford University with a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times was already said by Mike of Along the Mekong.
Having lived in this part of Vietnam for a few years, I can’t help it — what he wrote was offensive. Most of what he said were half-truths and came from someone who has not really lived in Vietnam to know the absolute truth.
Just my rebuttal on some of his points based on my experience living in Saigon only:
“You don’t have to spend much time in Vietnam before you notice something unusual. You hear no birds singing, see no squirrels scrambling up trees or rats scurrying among the garbage. No dogs out for a walk.
In fact, you see almost no wild or domesticated animals at all. Where’d they all go? You might be surprised to know: Most have been eaten.”
Every morning when I bring my son to the bus stop, my son notices the birds swooping overhead and playing by our park. Of course there are no squirrels because those are not endemic to Vietnam and as much as I don’t want to say, we have rats near the garbage. Oh and dogs? Excuse me but during our evening walks we have to fight for our space because lots of people who live here are walking their dogs too!
What sweeping generalization on domesticated animals being eaten!
“Many anthropologists and historians attribute the difference to the state’s origins. Vietnam was born of China, while India heavily influenced the other countries — two nations with drastically different personalities, even today.
Well, certainly that played a part. But I would argue that because Vietnamese have regularly eaten meat through the ages, adding significant protein to their diet, that also helps explain the state’s aggressive tendencies — and the sharp contrast with its neighbors.”
What meat diet? If you’ve lived here or even stayed a few days here in Vietnam, you’d know that most Vietnamese live on VEGETABLES! And eating meat causes aggressive tendencies? Har har har.
“Right now, the favored dish is dog. In fact, dog meat is particularly prized. It’s considered a specialty because it is said to contain more protein than other meats. For Vietnamese, tradition has it that whenever you have bad luck you should eat dog meat to change your fate. But you shouldn’t eat it at the start of the lunar month, or the reverse will happen. You’ll actually bring on bad luck.”
“In fact, still today, driving down the highway it’s not unusual to see a flatbed truck hauling dogs curled up in little stacked cages, six cages high, eight deep, off to market — similar to the way chickens are transported to slaughterhouses in the west.”
Sorry but this isn’t solely Vietnamese. This is pretty Asian. And no, there are groups and people like me who abhors this kind of treatment to dogs. I’ve lived here for a few years and still have yet to see a flatbed truck hauling dogs curled with little stacked cages.
True Vietnam is not yet “there” but seriously just because you write well doesn’t mean you’re telling the truth about this country.
Boo to Brinkley’s article!