America’s Dark Epiphany: We Are All South Vietnamese Now

The GOP and conservative establishment proved themselves as worthless as the venal, do-nothing rulers in Saigon, who let the Communists win.

A member of the CIA helps evacuees up a ladder onto an Air America helicopter on the roof of 22 Gia Long Street April 29, 1975, shortly before Saigon fell to advancing North Vietnamese troops.

By John Zmirak Published on January 7, 2021

My political journey began in Spring 1975. Just ten years old, I’d watched with mounting horror as the Communist forces of North Vietnam conquered the South. Meanwhile our vindictive, post-Watergate Congress refused further aid. On April 30, the invaders overran Saigon. I will never forget the spectacle of US helicopters pulling out of our embassy. Or the rooftops crowded with desperate American allies clutching at the landing gear. In subsequent months, the “Boat People” fleeing Communist cruelty started washing up on our shores. I couldn’t shake my sense of helpless, directionless shame. I felt our country had profoundly dishonored itself.

And Winter 2020 has brought me back to that same place. Washington, D.C., this dark Epiphany Day brought me right back to Saigon. I’ll explain, but first a few necessary reflections on the violence.

Shooting Trump Protesters: Good. Shooting Violent Suspects: Bad.

We don’t know yet if the instigators of the violence at the US Capitol were rogue Trump supporters unhinged by the theft of our democracy. Or Antifa members in costume. Or maybe a blend of both, with gullible overwrought patriots following a false flag waved by canny infiltrators. The pro-Communist riots in West Germany, 1967-8, were started by a police shooting of a demonstrator. That cop later turned out to be an East German Stasi spy sent to stir up trouble. Put nothing past the radical Left. Nothing. 

The left, the useless GOP Establishment, and Christian NeverTrump squishes, will use this lamentable violence to try to silence election challenges for decades to come.

What’s more, if leftists are culprits, we will likely never find out. Even if proof emerges, the same networks that wouldn’t report on Hunter Biden’s laptop won’t report on this. And now you can add turncoat Fox News to that list. People who share such proof on social media will be blocked, suspended, or banned (as President Trump himself was suspended for 12 hours from Twitter). So the truth might remain forever a rumor, one way or the other, disbelieved by half the country. The collapse of a common narrative is just one side-effect of media overwhelmingly picking sides. Then sneering with Pilate, “Truth? What is Truth?”

The left, the useless GOP Establishment, and Christian NeverTrump squishes, will use this lamentable violence to try to silence election challenges. They’ll wave off all proof of Democrat vote fraud for decades to come — assuming we still have contested elections after this one — with the phrase, “That’s what got people killed at the Capitol!” Was it really justified for Secret Service to shoot unarmed USAF veteran Ashli Babbit for not heeding their orders? (Watch this interview with an eyewitness, his hand still red with Babbit’s blood.)

The Democrats Burned Cities for Less

As I recall, Democrats burned down whole cities to protest much less dubious police shootings, of armed suspects who resisted arrest. 

Funny that talk of racism or excessive police use of force wasn’t silenced after the Antifa/Black Lives Matter riots of spring 2020. Just as the leaders, and repeat offenders, in those riots were never prosecuted by Democrats. But citizens defending themselves such as Kyle Rittenhouse and Jake Gardner were. That’s Anarcho-Tyranny for you, though: One set of rules for the mobs that support the ruling Party, another for those who oppose it. The brownshirts get off with slaps on the wrist, and their victims go to prison.

Wait for the Pharisees and Sadducees to Weigh In

We’ll hear endless, breathless blather about the “divisive” and “destructive” effects of President Trump and others questioning blatantly rigged elections. The proper response? Remind folks that Jesus Himself came to “bring a sword.” There is no room for unity or comity with those who would steal our elections. They’re stealing power, period, using fraud and force to grab the State’s monopoly of violence. That’s because they mean violence toward us, our families, and our freedoms.

Theft is wrong, fraud is wrong, and tyranny is wrong. Those too blasé or afraid to support impartial investigations should at least have the decency to keep silent. But they know that their own Sloth is sinful, born of a love of comfort or fear of conflict. So they project the guilt onto us, and lash out at us to silence the accusation they feel when they look in the mirror.

I hope no Republican or Christian who helped grease the wheels for the Steal ever gets a solid night’s impenitent sleep again.

On the Brink of a One-Party State, Delivered by Theft

The Providential rarely coincides with the comfortable. God didn’t speak to Abram to tell him to stay right where he was, and carry on his awesomeness in Ur. God didn’t tell Jonah to bloom where he was planted. And He didn’t tell the Israelites to make little winsome gestures toward political reform in Egypt. He moves when He wants us to move, which is rarely when we want to. We don’t want to face the comprehensive, catastrophic nature of the Democrats’ dishonest wins this year.

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But we’re going to have to. We stand on the brink of a one-party state, with the Democrats poised to make fundamental and irreversible structural changes. They might never lose power again, or hold any honest elections. We might soon face a packed Supreme Court that will shred the Bill of Rights, including our First and Second Amendment protections. You might not be interested in tyranny, but tyranny is interested in you.

Are We in Saigon, 1975?

I think it’s Providential, then, for my own path, that I just happened to be reading a powerful work of history. It’s Max Hastings’ fair-minded Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-75. I recommend it highly. Unlike too many such books, it anchors the narrative in the lives and fates of the Vietnamese people first. It shows America as a naïve, well-meaning but arrogant and heavy-handed Leviathan. Hastings conclusively proves, to my mind, that the US never actually had the power to change that nation’s fate. Short of using nuclear weapons to obliterate millions, we couldn’t stop the Communists from finally taking power. So maybe my shame in 1975 was a little misplaced. We stumbled away from a nightmare which we only had the power to prolong, and make even worse.

Unlike most war critics, Hastings doesn’t sugarcoat the brutality of the Communists in that country, or the poverty their crackpot collectivism prolonged or caused. But he does explain, in rich and repulsive detail, why the Communists prevailed. He shows how a small but fervent band of fanatics could impose a foreign, totalitarian system on millions of their fellow citizens — despite a massive effort by the US to protect the innocent. The people of South Vietnam were betrayed, all right. But Americans weren’t the main culprits.

No, the people of South Vietnam never had a chance. They were betrayed by their own leaders, as Americans have been in 2020 by our own judges, state legislators, and the leadership of the Republican party. The parallels between the Establishment GOP, in fact, and the South Vietnamese leaders, are actually chilling.

The South Vietnamese GOP Leadership

The elites in South Vietnam, as Hastings shows, lived at vast distance from the people they claimed to govern. In other words, they held their governing base in contempt, as GOP leaders felt about Donald Trump and his supporters. South Vietnam’s leaders often squandered the money the US gave them, pocketing much of it. Their generals stayed far away from the front lines of battle, and chose commanding officers based not on their competence, but cronyism. Just so too many in the GOP have kept far away from our efforts to demand an honest election. The Republican National Committee, on the crucial day January 6, were at a beachside “leadership retreat” at Florida’s five-star Amelia Island. I hope their margaritas were good.

The rabid, radical left prevailed in Vietnam for the same reasons they’re prevailing here. The Communists in Vietnam on both sides of the border were ideologically disciplined, intolerant, and ruthless. So the US left has shown itself since 2016, from the street thugs of Antifa all the way to the vapid talking heads on CNN, and the cadres who censor Facebook.

Meanwhile, many of those who claim to be the opposition, the defenders of freedom, can be bought off or scared off. What happened to all those Republican governors, secretaries of state, and state legislators whose job it was to ensure an honest vote? They failed in their duties to our Constitution and our country, as surely as did those generals who jetted out of Saigon in 1975 with suitcases full of cash. 


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”

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