CONSERVATIVE

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When Tram Nguyen, a Democratic state representative from Massachusetts, posted a Facebook đoạn Clip declaring support for the Black Lives Matter movement, she thought the message to lớn her constituents was relatively uncontroversial. Millions of Americans were taking to the streets to lớn prokiểm tra police brutality. And as an elected official, she had khổng lồ take a st& against systemic racism and express her commitment to “fight for eunique for all.”

The video clip, however, enraged a vocal group of conservative Vietnamese Americans outside her district who flocked khổng lồ Nguyen’s page, accusing her of having communist sympathies and aligning with “domestic terrorists.” The comments on her Clip branded her as a traitor, a dishonor to lớn her family.

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“I respect the right for people to lớn disagree with me,” she told me in July in an interview for the Interpreter, a volunteer-run site that translates English-language news into lớn Vietnamese. “I represent a purple district … but I’ve sầu never had this sort of attaông xã thrown against me before.”

Nguyen was not the only victyên of an online Vietnamese American mob this summer. Lê Hoàng Nguyên ổn, an insurance agent in Houston, used his savings to lớn fund a “Blachồng Lives Matter” billboard with the phrase “Stop Racism” in Vietnamese và English. He intended for it lớn be a statement of solidarity, but ended up receiving messages that called for his lynching and boycotts of his business from the pro-Trump Vietnamese community in Houston.

In the months after my conversation with Nguyen (no relation), I began lurking around the online spaces that directed personal attacks against her, scouring Vietnamese-language local Facebook groups, political news pages, & YouTube channels. I kept coming across a disturbing trend: Many Vietnamese Americans — particularly first-generation, older immigrants with low English proficiency — had become more radically conservative sầu, or were exposed lớn và sympathetic with these pro-Trump views.

From my reporting on immigrant Asian communities, I found that some Vietnamese immigrants who might not understand the nuances of racism in America felt threatened by the social unrest and looting in cities. A few even became counterprotesters at local Blaông chồng Lives Matter rallies. This occurred in tandem with the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes spurred on by Covid-19, which was branded as the “Trung Quốc virus” by President Trump.

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All of this might feel counterintuitive sầu for a minority group. But out of the six ethnic groups in the 2020 Asian American Voter Survey conducted this summer, Vietnamese Americans were the only enclave to lớn express more tư vấn for Trump (48 percent) than Biden (36 percent). They were also more likely to lớn vote Republican for House và Senate candidates, while overall support aước ao Asian Americans trends more Democratic. (The phrase “Asian American” is itself a vague descriptor; it cobbles together a wide variety of ethnic groups who happen khổng lồ hail from the same region but hold varying economic & political histories.)

But many first-generation Vietnamese were already conservative lớn begin with. Having left behind a communist-led country, they may be averse lớn liberal politics, deeply religious, & invested in the idea of the American dream. Guided by a tide of Vietnamese- và English-language misinformation, however, these radical right-wing views are now quietly held by a not-so-insignificant minority — and are often left to lớn younger, more progressive family members to challenge and dismantle.

In năm 2016, Trump won 32 percent of the Vietnamese American vote, according to exit polling by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. This was a sharp drop, compared to lớn support for Romney (54 percent) and McCain (67 percent) in years past, but even in năm 2016, more Vietnamese American voters favored Trump than any other Asian ethnic group — và it has only risen since.

Vietnamese support for Donald Trump & the Republican Party has taken on a zealous, nearly fanatical edge in the lead-up to lớn the 20trăng tròn election. Vietnamese Americans have staged events in states lượt thích Virginia, Texas, California, and Floridomain authority, where there are already established cultural hubs.

For example, a Houston-based choir published a YouTube đoạn phim dedicating a tuy nhiên for Trump’s reelection, featuring middle-aged Vietnamese singers dressed in MAGA gear. During Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings, “Vietnamese for Trump” organizers from different cities came together for a rally outside the Supreme Court, where attendees donned áo lâu năm (traditional Vietnamese garb) with sewed-on patterns of the American & South Vietnamese flags. In early October, hundreds of Vietnamese Republicans in Orange County — some wearing South Vietnamese military outfits — participated in a drive-by demonstration, flying Trump 2020 flags.

This Trump mania is certainly not reflective sầu of every Vietnamese voter. Some longtime Republicans who dislike Trump are siding with Biden for the election, and young liberals are ramping up Democratic efforts through the Vietnamese Americans for Biden chiến dịch. But the jump in tư vấn from 2016 is notable.