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or, The Politics of Parades, or, a Parable for Primary Season

Here on the shores of San Francisco Bay, we have a HUGE East Asian population. Is this news to anyone? San Francisco's Chinatown is a long-established community; Vietnamese refugees congregated in San Jose; new immigrants from all over Asia have flocked to Silicon Valley jobs.

So - the Lunar New Year starts today! This is an event big enough that even us anglos can't ignore it. Both major newspapers have special sections SF SJ; both major cities have parades. And both parades have interesting political issues. As a marching band musician for over 30 years, parades are dear to my heart. Over the break -- in step! Left, right.....

The Tet parade in San Jose is this Sunday. I might be marching,  one of my bands has been invited. NOT attending will be the mayor and the only Vietnamese-American city council member. Why? Because of a nasty fight  between factions of the Vietnamese community.

In San Jose, one of the biggest local news items of the past few months has been the argument over officially naming a Vietnamese district, which some would like to call "Little Saigon". Non-Vietnamese are less happy with this suggestion; City Councilwoman Madison Nguyen - the first Vietnamese-American elected official in San Jose - suggested "Saigon Business District". This compromise has not been accepted by the "Little Saigon" partisans - who coincidentally are led by friends of the councilwoman's opponent in the last election. They also organize the parade, so she hasn't been invited. The mayor attended the parade in past years but is wisely staying away this time.

In San Francisco, the Chinese New Year parade will be in two weeks. One very large Chinese-American group that is NOT invited is Falun Gong. They have a large following in the Bay Area, and a large group and marching band that perform in the July 4th parade with me. But their big marching band isn't welcome in the San Francisco parade, because the Chinese business community that organizes the parade doesn't want to offend Beijing by accepting Falun Gong.  

Has anyone missed my point relating this to our current mudflinging? Any outsider would think that these groups have MUCH more in common than they have dividing them. I hope  that someday they'll remember that and so will Democrats.

Originally posted to esquimaux on Thu Feb 07, 2008 at 07:17 PM PST.

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