Leave it to MSNBC’s sanctimonious former Republican and host Joe Scarborough to lecture a Vietnamese refugee on what the fall of Saigon was or was not like.
Scarborough took to Twitter to respond to an essay published by The New York Times on Sunday titled, “Our Saigon.” The piece was written by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. Nguyen was in the former capital of South Vietnam when the North Vietnam Army rolled in on April 30, 1975 — the city is now called Ho Chi Minh City. Only 4-years-old at the time, he remembers little.
The chaotic evacuation of Saigon was captured in the iconic photo showing evacuees being led to a helicopter pad on the roof of the U.S. Embassy. A scene that prompted recent comparisons to the fall of Afghanistan.
Yet, Scarborough’s task in carrying President Joe Biden’s water was to dissuade such comparisons, even if it meant insulting Nguyen in the process.
“Please don’t embarrass yourself by comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam or the events of the past week to Saigon in 1975. Dear Lord,” the MSNBC host dutifully tweeted.
Please don’t embarrass yourself by comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam or the events of the past week to Saigon in 1975. Dear Lord. pic.twitter.com/MvSQojhzwF
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 22, 2021
Nguyen would push back, replying that he wasn’t embarrassed “because what I say is that the situations are different, except for the moral urgency in helping civilians and refugees. Either you misread or didn’t read in your haste to score a point.”
Predictably, once confronted, Scarborough’s tone changed dramatically, as he opted for appeasement.
“My apologies. My words were not directed toward you or your moving, persuasive article,” he replied. “It was directed at the NYTimes editors who chose to stamp the words ‘Our Saigon’ on the single image dominating the front of the Sunday Review. Your piece on page 4 is a must read.”
My apologies. My words were not directed toward you or your moving, persuasive article. It was directed at the NYTimes editors who chose to stamp the words “Our Saigon” on the single image dominating the front of the Sunday Review. Your piece on page 4 is a must read. https://t.co/vNu0inIkQJ
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 23, 2021
In sharing his op-ed online, Nguyen tweeted: “I have been deeply moved by what is happening to the people of Afghanistan. It reminds me so much of what happened to my family. What is common in both cases is the moral urgency for the US to help as many Afghans as possible.”
Nguyen was effectively advocating for the U.S. to take in as many Afghan refugees as possible. He wrote:
“Images of bodies falling, of people running desperately, are now with us again, from Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. Comparisons to Vietnam began early in America’s misadventure in Afghanistan: It was classic mission creep, a quagmire, another forever war. The pessimism was warranted. Two decades, billions of dollars and tens of thousands of deaths later, Taliban forces are now in Kabul, having secured control of the country with dizzying speed. As much as some American leaders resist it, the analogy presents itself again, with the fall of Saigon and resulting catastrophe foreshadowing the possible fate of tens of thousands of Afghans.
True, the Taliban are not the People’s Army of Vietnam, and the American evacuation of Saigon, chaotic as it was, was better planned than the American endgame for Kabul. But the Saigon analogy is important because the urgency and the human disaster are similar as is the role that the United States and other nations must play to shape those fates of Afghans.
As for comparing Kabul to Saigon, here are a couple of photos that were popular on social media:
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Kabul is Biden’s Saigon. pic.twitter.com/ofGC3CrleI
— Ian Miles Cheong @ stillgray.substack.com (@stillgray) August 15, 2021
PHOTO 2: US diplomat evacuate US from embassy via helicopter as the PAVN & Viet Cong capture of Saigon, Vietnam (1975) pic.twitter.com/YamWmzjOay
— Stefan Simanowitz (@StefSimanowitz) August 15, 2021
If there’s a positive in any of this it may be that social media users held Scarborough accountable for his audacity.
Here’s a sampling of the results from Twitter. Caution — Adult Language:
Good job Joe. Fucking idiot. pic.twitter.com/UmWydcTDA7
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) August 23, 2021
Why are you attacking a man who literally fled Saigon?
— Ian Miles Cheong @ stillgray.substack.com (@stillgray) August 23, 2021
It has been worse, you’re right.
— Nick Pappas (@NickAPappas) August 23, 2021
Did you really just tweet that a Vietnamese refugee to the USA, whose family fled Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, is unqualified in some way to draw comparisons with the events we have seen unfold in Afghanistan?
— Angie C 🔶 🇳🇿🏴🇫🇷🇪🇺 (@kiwi_angie) August 22, 2021
the same people who compare Jan 6 to real insurrections.
— Mickey (@MickTheQuick90) August 22, 2021
Says the guy who spent the last 6 months comparing January 6th to 9/11 and the Civil War, and the last President to Hitler. Maybe sit this one out, Joe. https://t.co/P0LO8QY1QF
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) August 23, 2021
Nguyen was born in Vietnam in 1971 and his family fled the country to the U.S. in 1975 after the fall of Saigon, but I’m sure Scarborough knows more about the details than the author does. https://t.co/yzDM5Fakq8
— Doug Powers (@ThePowersThatBe) August 23, 2021
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