Thursday, March 30, 2006

"The Crucified" by Khalil Gibran

Today, and on this same day of each year, man is startled from his deep slumber and stands before the phantoms of the Ages, looking with tearful eyes toward Mount Calvary to witness Jesus the Nazarene nailed on the Cross. But when the day is over and eventide comes, he returns and kneels to pray before the idols erected upon every hilltop, every prairie, and every barter of wheat.
Today, the Christian souls ride on the wing of memories and fly to Jerusalem. There they will stand in throngs, beating upon their bosoms, and staring at him, crowned with a wreath of thorns, stretching his arms before heaven, and looking from behind the veil of Death into the depths of Life.
But when the curtain of night drops over the stage of the day and the brief drama is concluded, the Christians will go back in groups and lie down in the shadow of oblivion between quilts of ignorance and slothfulness.
On this one day of each year, the philosophers leave their dark caves, and the thinkers their cold cells, and the poets their imaginary arbors, and all stand reverently upon that silent mountain, listening to the voice of a young man saying of his killers, "Oh Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."
But as dark silence chokes the voices of the light, the philosophers and the thinkers and the poets return to their narrow crevices and shroud their souls with meaningless pages of parchment.
The women who busy themselves in the splendor of Life will bestir themselves today from their cushions to see the sorrowful woman standing before the Cross like a tender sapling before the raging tempest; and when they approach near to her, they will hear a deep moaning and a painful grief.
The young men and women who are racing with the torrent of modern civilization will halt today for a moment, and look backward to see the young Magdalene washing with her tears the blood stains from the feet of a Holy Man suspended between heaven and earth; and when their shallow eyes weary of the scene they will depart and soon laugh.
On this day of each year, Humanity wakes with the awakening of Spring, and stands crying below the suffering Nazarene; then she closes her eyes and surrenders herself to a deep slumber. But Spring will remain awake, smiling and progressing until merged into Summer, dressed in scented golden raiment. Humanity is a mourner who enjoys lamenting the memories and heroes of the Ages. If Humanity were possessed of understanding, there would be rejoicing over their glory. Humanity is like a child standing in glee by a wounded beast. Humanity laughs before the strengthening torrent which carries into oblivion the dry branches of the trees, and sweeps away with determination all things not fastened to strength.
Humanity looks upon Jesus the Nazarene as a poor-born who suffered misery and humiliation with all the weak. And he is pitied, for Humanity believes he was crucified painfully. And all that Humanity offers to him is crying and wailing and lamentation. For centuries Humanity has been worshiping weakness in the person of the Savior.
The Nazarene was not weak! He was strong and is strong! But people refuse to heed the true meaning of strength.
Jesus never lived a life of fear, nor did he die complaining. He lived as a leader; he was crucified as a crusader; he died with a strength that frightened his killers and tormentors.
Jesus was not a bird with broken wings. He was a raging tempest who broke all crooked wings. He feared not his persecutors nor his enemies. Free and brave and daring he was. He defied all despots and oppressors. He saw the contagious pustules and amputated them. He muted Evil and he crushed Falsehood and he choked Treachery.
Jesus came not from the heart of the circle of Light to destroy the homes and build upon their ruins the convents and monasteries. He did not persuade the strong man to become a monk or a priest, but he came to send forth upon this earth a new spirit, with power to crumble the foundation of any monarchy built upon human bones and skulls. He came to demolish the majestic palaces, constructed on the graves of the weak, and crush the idols, erected upon the bodies of the poor. Jesus was not sent here to teach the people to build magnificent churches and temples amidst the cold wretched huts and dismal hovels. He came to make the human heart a temple, and the soul an altar, and the mind a priest.
These were the missions of Jesus the Nazarene, and these are the teachings for which he was crucified. And if Humanity were wise, she would stand today and sing in strength the song of conquest and the hymn of triumph.
Oh, Crucified Jesus, who art looking sorrowfully from Mount Calvary at the sad procession of the Ages, and hearing the clamor of the dark nations, and understanding the dreams of Eternity: Thou art, on the Cross, more glorious and dignified than one thousand kings upon one thousand thrones in one thousand empires.
Thou art, in the agony of death, more powerful than one thousand generals in one thousand wars.With thy sorrows, thou art more joyous than Spring with its flowers.
With thy suffering, thou art more bravely silent than the crying of angels of heaven. Before thy lashers, thou art more resolute than the mountain of rock.
Thy wreath of thorns is more brilliant and sublime than the crown of Bahram. The nails piercing thy hands are more beautiful than the scepter of Jupiter.
The spatters of blood upon thy feet are more resplendent than the necklace of Ishtar.
Forgive the weak who lament thee today, for they do not know how to lament themselves.
Forgive them, for they do not know that thou hast conquered death with death, and bestowed life upon the dead.
Forgive them, for they do not know that thy strength still awaits them.
Forgive them, for they do not know that every day is thy day.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Solution To Illegal Immigration Is Legal Immigration

First of all, there are no undocumented aliens. Undocumented aliens are Japanese (or any nationality) tourists who came to the US and lost their visa at Disney World. Let call them what it is - illegal aliens. And it is a travesty that they are illegal aliens and not legal aliens. The current issue we have concerning illegal immigrants did not not appear out of the blue. The massive numbers of illegal immigrants did not cross the border yesterday, they came in the period of many years. And like it or not, they came because there is a demand for unskill jobs due to our unprecedent economic growth.
But the demand for labor was predictable and should have been anticipated. Therefore the current problem is mainly the fault of Congress and the President - not only this one but previous ones as well - going back at least 10 years. They should have anticipated the labor demand in our economy and adjust their immigration policy accordingly. They should have granted more working visas or came up with a guest worker program that meet our labor need. That means we could have had the same number of immigrants - but legal instead of illegal. We could have picked and chose the best of them base on skill, language, and education - as well as the lack of criminal record. We could have had a much more diverse immigrant population - representing the world at large instead of one single ethnic group. We could have had an immigrant population who are waving the Old Glory instead of a foreign color.
I think the current problem is more complex than people realize and requires several approachs. Building a fence alone does not solve the labor need. Amnesty will not end the incoming flow of illegal immgrants. The problem requires a multi-prongs solution beginning with tightening control of the border. Let make illegal tresspassing into the US a felony with some prison times. Next we have to deal with the illegal immgrants that are here and it is a complex solution. Deporting all of them at once is not a feasible and practical solution. There are too many of them; and who would do the work if they are gone? People who favor deportation will change their mind quickly when there are no fruits in the supermarkets. The practical solution would be slowly deporting people at the sametime rapidly increase the number of authorized employment visa - equal to the rate of people we deport. Let also distribute those visas equally across the globe so that we can have a more diverse population and increase the chance of assimilation. We can also lowering the labor demand by implementing free trade policy. Many of the jobs that illegal immigrants are performing would disappear if we have a sensible trade policy. Let start with ending the agriculture subsidy. It is much better to import fruit from Mexico than importing illegal aliens.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Genocide Deniers

I found this interesting piece over Oliver Kamn. Oliver Kamn fisked Chomsky (and the Guardian) over his position in relation to the genocide in Bosnia. We all know about Chomsky infamous comment on the Cambodia Killing Field. Apparently he is taking a similar position with the genocide in Bosnia. And similar to the Killing Field comment, Chomsky said something outrageous and later denied ever saying it or claim that it was taken out of context. Noam Chomsky granted an interview to The Guardian last October and the interviewer supposedly asked some tought indirect questions about the masacre at Srebrenica.
Q: Do you regret supporting those who say the Srebrenica massacre was exaggerated?
A: My only regret is that I didn't do it strongly enough.
It is true that the above question- in exact wording- was never asked; and Chomsky never gave the answer - in exact wording. Therefore Chomsky is entitled to an apology and a correction from The Guardian on this specific fact. But Chomsky did indirectly support the position that Srebrenicia was not a masacre and there was no genocide in Bosnia. And as a public intellectual, he must be held responsible.
Oliver gave the evidence of Chomsky position in his piece and I strongly recommend readers to read the whole thing. It is long and laborious but worthy of your time. The summary of Oliver's article is that Chomsky by supporting Diana Johnstone's position is himself a genocide denier.
I will not address Chomsky sin which is merely an echo of Oliver Kamn's position. However I wish to address the original position of Dianna Johnstone which Chomsky supports. Dianna Johnston wrote "Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions" which basically denies that there was a genocidal campaign in the Former Yugoslavia and it is minor in comparision to crimes commited by the US internationally. Of course, wacko leftist accusing the US of war crimes is not noteworthy in itself so I will not address that particular argument.
But I have been to Bosnia and am intimately familiar with that civil war. And I think it is important to debunk the Johnstone argument - not for the sake of the US but for the sake of the victims of that genocide. Oliver Kamn did a nice job summarizing Johnstone's thesis and in this post I will refute her argument. I am doing it in the names of the murdered, the raped, and the survivors. Oliver Kamn:
To summarise, this is what Johnstone argues: that there is “a difficulty in knowing the truth about Srebrenica”. This is partly because “uncertainty has persisted concerning the actual number of people killed, the circumstances and motives involved and the political significance of the real or assumed killing that took place.” Johnstone urges, therefore, that “a number of factors should be taken into account”.
These are:

1. The safe areas (including Srebrenica) were not demilitarised, but “served as Muslim military bases … safe bases from which to attack the Serbs”, and UN-protected food shipments were “suspected - correctly” by the Serbs of acting as a front for the shipment of weapons. The UN announcement of the demilitarisation of Srebrenica was “deceptive”.
2. The Muslim forces in Srebrenica were led by one Naser Oric who “had carried out murderous raids against nearby Serb villages”. Oric’s Muslim fighters beheaded the bodies of Serbs, reminding Serbs of the Ottoman occupation.
3. The Bosnian Muslim government pulled Oric’s men out of the enclave “deliberately leaving the enclave undefended”. This alleged fact “has aroused strong suspicion of a calculated sacrifice”. In addition, a former member of the Bosnian parliament has “insisted that many more Srebrenicans had survived than were acknowledged”.
4. The US used the “inevitable failure” of the UN safe area concept as a way of getting NATO to supplant the United Nations. “The UNPROFOR mission was a planned failure … used to discredit the whole tradition of neutral diplomacy” and colluded in by “Washington’s choice as Secretary General, Kofi Annan…”
5. “The number of Muslims killed or missing after the fall of Srebrenica is uncertain and more effort has been made to inflate the figures than to identify and count the real victims”. The original 8,000 figure was made up of 3,000 reported detainees and 5,000 who fled, of whom, according to one newspaper report, 3-4,000 had now turned up. Six years later “ICTY forensic teams had exhumed 2,361 bodies in the region and identified fewer than 50 … some of the bodies were certainly of Serbs as well as of Muslims”. Johnstone concludes that there is “no clear way to account for the fate of all the Muslim men reported missing in Srebrenica”, not least because some of the prisoners “were released in exchanges” or “even dispersed abroad”.
6. “The original accusation against the Bosnian Serbs was politically motivated.” Johnstone writes that “The accusation of a ‘Srebrenica massacre’ [note, these are Johnstone’s quotation marks] was used by the Clinton administration” to distract attention from Croat activities in the Krajina region, and on to “Serb misdeeds”. A presentation by Madeleine Albright of satellite photographs showing possibly massacre burial sites “successfully diverted attention” at the UN from the Croatian offensive against the Serbs. The photos themselves are problematic because “If … the massacres took place on the scale alleged, why were no photos displayed showing the massacres?”

7. “Insofar as Muslims were actually executed [note the use of the quasi-judicial word ‘executed’ rather than ‘murdered’ or even ‘killed’ here] following the fall of Srebrenica, such crimes bear all the signs of spontaneous acts of revenge rather than a project of ‘genocide’”. This is the context in which Johnstone claims that the separation of men of military age from women and children makes one thing obvious, “one does not commit ‘genocide’ by sparing women and children”. Johnstone claims that the separation actually happened “partly because the Serbs could exchange” Serb and Muslim POWs and partly because the Serbs were looking for Oric’s notorious killers. The rapid fall of the enclave “presented the Serbs with an opportunity to exact revenge”. Furthermore “some observers” think that the whole thing “was a ‘trap’ for the Serbs who stupidly fell into it.” In fact “one man who wanted to keep Bosnian Serb forces away from Srebrenica was Slobodan Milosevic”. He may have anticipated that “the accusation of ‘genocide’ in Srebrenica was used to construct the presumption that Milosevic was plotting to commit genocide in Kosovo.”
On point one and two, it has some kernels of truth but much more factual errors. There are still Muslim (Bosniaks) fighters within Srebrenicia proper - to include Naser Oric and his men - but the number is insignificant because the bulk of Bosniak fighters were defending Sarajevo. Srebrenicia location is deep within Serb controlled territory. I includes a map to familiar readers with the locations in this article. The greenline is the current border that divide Bosnia into The Federation and Republika Sprska. It was also the front line around the time of the fall of Srebrenica. The red lines are the main roads.
By the time of the seige of Srebrenica, the combined Serbian Army (JNA) and the Bosnian Serbs (VRS) forces already took Zvonik, a Muslim majority town north of Srebrenica and emptied it of all Muslims. Many of the refugee fled to Srebrenica, increased it population by at least five times. The JNA-VRS forces pushed further south and completely surrounded Srebrenica. Srebrenica was completely isolated and if one looks at the map, it is very far from the front line to be a viable base for launching attacks against the Serbs. Supplying in the city is virtually impossible without going through Serbs controlled checkpoint. The only way to avoid the checkpoints was on foot through the mountain. Having been there, I can tell you that the mountain in Bosnia is tough terrain to tranverse - one has to be in very good shape and if one carry light load. Johnstone's idea that the city was a forward base is absurd.
There is no denial that Naser Oric is a war criminal. I have personally met Naser Oric when I was a peacekeeper in Bosnia (2000) and my impression of him was negative. He is a typical criminal scumbag that profit from war. He was a sleazy night club owner in Tuzla at the time. When he was indicted, we came close to capturing him but he managed to evade.
But I wonder what Johnstone point in mentioning Naser Oric. Naser Oric role in the Srebrenica event was a negative one but irrelevant to the later masacre. Naser and his men, during the seige, went outside the city to forage for food and supply. In the process, they indiscriminately killed Serbs who live in the outskirt of the city. Robbery was his main motive. And as the Serbs were closing in the city, Naser and his men left in helicopter. Is Johnstone implying that Naser action justify the masacre later on by Serbs? According Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, who is no friend of Naser Oric, submitted a document to the UN that Naser Oric killed 371 Serbs during his raids (from 1993 - 1995). War crime no doubt; and he is being tried for it. But that fact bear no relevancy on the later masacre unless if Johnstone argue that it was spontaneous revenge - unqualified as premeditated and planned masacre.
Which she did in this article at the International Action Center (a far left center found by Ramsey Clark), which seems to be the summarized version of her book:
When the Bosnian Serb forces captured the town on July 11, 2005, civilians were clamoring to leave the enclave, understandably enough, since there was virtually no normal economic life there. Much has been made of the fact that Serb forces separated the population, providing buses for women, children and the infirm to take them to Tuzla, while detaining the men. In light of all that preceded, the reason for this separation is obvious: the Bosnian Serbs were looking for the perpetrators of raids on Serb villages, in order to take revenge.

However, only a relatively small number of Muslim men were detained at that point, and some of them are known to have survived and eventually been released in exchange for Serb prisoners. When the Serb forces entered the town from the south, thousands of Muslim soldiers, in disarray because of the absence of commanding officers, fled northwards, through wild wooded hills toward Tuzla. It is clear enough that they fled because they feared exactly what everyone aware of the situation dreaded: that Serb soldiers would take vengeance on the men they considered guilty of murdering Serb civilians and prisoners.
First of all, the revenge explanation does hold water. There was other masacres long before Srebrenica. There is a hotel in Zvornik that we nicknames "Airbone Hotel." When the Serbs took Zvornik, they took Muslims to a hotel on the Drina (the river that divides Bosnia and Serbia), killed them and threw their bodies into river - hence the nickname. There were so many bodies that the hydroelectric damn downstream was clogged. The refugees at Srebrenica include many survivors of Zvornik.
Johnstone assertion that Muslims men fled north toward Tuzla is absurd. It would normally took us most of the day to travel from Tuzla to Srebrenica in humvee using the main road. It would be almost impossible to travel from Srebrenica to Tuzla on foot while avoiding the main road. The numerous mountains in between make it physically impossible.
Johnstone had also never visited the mass grave in Bosnia. I went to many of them and they turned my stomach. So far more than 5,000 remains were recovered in and around Srebrenica and new ones are being found. It is a higher rate of recover than most masacres in the past suggesting the number maybe much higher than 8,000 originally estimated.
Throughout her book, Johnstone deliberately avoids mentioning the rapes that occured after the fall of Srebrenica. Beside seperating the men and young boy to be massacred, the Serbs raped many women and young girls as a form of intimidation.
Beside the factual errors on the Srebrenica Masacre, Johnstone has nothing to add to the topic other than crazy conspiracy theory. The fact that Croats and Bosniaks also commited war crimes is not disputed by anyone. It does not change the fact that the Serbs were the most prolific killers in the war because they were most well equiped. It further does not change that Srebrenica Masacre in 1995 was the worst masacre in Europe since World War Two. Dianna Johnstone book has less to do with Bosnia than with America. If the US did not intervened in that conflict, Johnstone would have no problem acknowleding the masacre. I am used to the nutty Leftist bashing the US. We can take the abuse. But it sadden me to see victims of genocide being denied of their stories in the process.

Manolo Is Not A Postmodernist

As a frequent visitor to Manolo's Shoe Blog, my instinct told me that Manolo is a not postmodernist. A man with such refined sense of style cannot possibly be a dreary postmodernist. Normblog profile of the great fashion guru confirms my belief.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That beauty is the subjective, artificial construct. Indeed, it is not. Beauty and the appreciation of beauty they are part of the very essence of the human soul, and are indeed eternal verities.
Manolo, he is super fantastic!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Even Black Market Is Better Than Government

The common argument among government intervention advocates is that without government regulation and intervention, a free market would lead to chaos, people would exploit one another. Here is a personal story that will debunk that myth.

I remember the period in Communist Vietnam from the late 70s through early 80s and the economic condition back then. It was a time I cannot forget because of the food shortage and other shortage of essential goods.

The Communist Forces took over the South in April 1975 and soon after completely nationalized the economy – even small and pop business was illegal. And within a year of it, consumer goods disappeared from the market. I remember standing in line with my mother for half a day to shop at Cooperative stores and by the time we get to the store, there was nothing worth buying. And in the rare occasions when there are something to buy, it is substandard and inferior products. And when I say substandard, I mean standard of a third world country – which is almost no standard.

One maybe able to tolerate not having toothpaste or soaps, but the worst experience is not having food. The collectivization of agriculture result in the worst food shortage experienced since World War Two. Those were the years of food shortage. The food shortage was experience exclusively in urban area. It happened because of two reasons. The first problem was distribution, food was gathered at central locations; and because of government bureaucracy, and they rotted in centralized warehouses. Second, there was little economic incentive for farmers to product more rice that they need for themselves. So farmers would grow just enough for their family. Congee (rice soup), to increase the volume of food, was the common meal. And it was barely enough to fill one stomach. I remember going to bed hungry. The situation was so bad that on many occasions we had to eat cattle feeds as substitution for rice.*

As a natural reaction to the economic situation, the black market emerged. At first, it was simply people battering goods and services. A fisherman would give a fish to a barber in exchange for a haircut. Since farmers were not allowed to sell their agricultural goods. However they could exchange it for other things. Illiterate people would give my mother chicken in exchange for reading lesson. This form of battering would later evolved into the black market, as complex as any market.

During the war, my mother was an elementary school teacher. My father was a music professor and a city councilman. It did not matter to the victorious Communist that my father was a member of the opposition party. He was considered to be a member of the former regime. He was arrested, jailed for a couple of years and was forced out of the job (he would be arrested again later but it is another story). The salary of an elementary teacher was not enough to feed my family so my mother quit. She and my father entered the black market as fabric merchants.

At first they knew nothing about commerce but they learned quickly and adapted. Having witnessed my parent business and other businesses that evolved out the black market, I have a great appreciation for the agility and power of the market. As the black market evolved, the economic condition improved rapidly – especially my own economic condition. Whatever one could not buy at the government cooperatives, one could get it in the black market. It became the primary market in the South but it was nonetheless illegal – more so for the merchants than the consumers.

One would assume that in a market that is not regulated (it is an illegal market), there would be much exploitation and cheating. But that was not the cases. There were cheatings, but far and few in between. A merchant’s business depends on his or her reputation. Those who cheat do not survive in the market very long. Honesty is a selling point. Commercial transaction is illegal, money and good did not change hand at the same time. Consumer would pay merchant first. At the time of payment, there was no merchandise in sight. Merchant would go get the items and give to the consumer later. Trust was paramount to the transaction. All sort of items (good as well as services) were available in the black market to includes controlled items such as pharmaceuticals.

Despite the fact that we suppose to receive universal healthcare, there was no care or medicine. Doctors could not live on government salary so they quit. Those doctors that stayed on at the hospital are unqualified. They became doctors because they were loyal members of the Communist Party, not because they were competent healers. People learned to avoid government hospital and government doctors. One was more likely to get sicker, not better from the treatment. Competent doctors practiced medicine from their house, without license or government sanction. People always knew who the good doctors were. The bad ones worked for the government.

Essential medicine was also purchased at the black market. I was a sick child and often required medical care and medicine - medicine that would require regulation, control, and prescription in this country. I never experienced any adverse effect from the medicine purchased from the black market. They always worked, and I always gotten better from taking them. In fact, they saved my lives several occasions.

It was the black market that ended the starvation – starvation caused by government action. It was the black market that cured people and gave them a decent quality of life. It was the black market that sustained the entire country economy.

Liberal economic concepts such as invisible hand or spontaneous order are not abstract concepts. They are real and observable – and they are wonderful. They show the superiority of free market over government intervention. And even unregulated black market is proven to be superior to government.

========
*According to the Economist, in 2005, Vietnam was the second largest exporters of rice. Yet in the 70s and 80s, it could not feed it citizens. It is not coincident that the increase in production of rice began after the economic liberalization of the 90s.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Iraq - 2004 and now

All the talking heads who tell people how bad the situation in Iraq is was not in Iraq in 2004. When I was in Iraq in 2004 thing was really bad. Early that year we lost physical control of al-Fallujah, then a string of cities and towns in al-Anbar province fell into the hand of terrorists. From ar-Ramadi to the border with Syria, we had no physical control. Terrorists had complete freedom of movement from Baghdad to Syria. They controlled most of al-Anbar province. In al-Qa'im near the border, there was a sign in English: "Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Qa'im."
Al-Anbar was not the only lost province. The fall of al-Fallujah had a domino effect. It inspired terrorists everywhere to duplicate Zarqawi success. As-Samarra in Salah ad Din province fell; followed by Tal Afar in Niwana province. Baquba (in Diyala province), thirty minutes from my base camp, al-Zarqawi attempted to take the city. The fight for the city last a week, two soldiers from my unit died on the first day of the battle, known unofficially as the Battle for Baquba. It took several days of heavy fighting and three 500 pounds bombs to disloged Zarqawi fighters from the city. We almost lost the city. Iraqi workers who are employed in my base did not show up for work for more than a week because there was fighting everywhere.
Muqtada Sadr took advantage of the situation and started his insugency. First al-Najaf fell; then it was Karbala, then al-Kut. In al-Kut, there was a small U.S. force there. The base fell. People arrived at my base camp with the clothes on their back. Throughout the South, Mahdi Army of Muqtada Sadr roamed freely.
2004 was a desperate year. It was the year of the Twin Insurgency. To call the US presence in Iraq an occupation was grossly exagerated. We barely controlled half of the country. The other half was firmly in the control of terrorists. They ruled their areas like mini-states. They even had Sharia court. People are worry about a future Islamic Caliphate in the Sunni Triangle. There was an Islamic Caliphate in Iraq in 2004 with Zarqawi as its head of state and al-Fallujah as its capital.
But that Caliphate is no more. Now, all the cities and towns I mentioned are fully in the control of the US or Iraqi government. There are still violences and Iraq is not out of danger yet. But thing had improved signficantly since then. Iraq has an democratically elected government. It has an Armed Forces.
If someone tell you that thing has gotten worse in Iraq, ask him where he was in 2004. Wherever he was, he was certainly not in Iraq.

Monday, March 13, 2006

"Journey From The Fall"

An independent film that I will see. There are a whole lot of movies made about the Vietnam War and the effect of the war. But there are few, if none, made from the perspective of a Vietnamese. Unless that Vietnamese happens to be a Communist "freedom fighter" who triumphed over the "Imperialist America."
Few undestand that horrible price paid by many of us in the South, particularly my parent generation who had to live under Communist tyranny. "Journey From The Fall" is the first movie attempting to fill that gap.
Fresh from its screening at the Sundance Film Festival, JOURNEY FROM THE FALL is the first major American film to dramatize the traumatic aftermath of the Vietnam War from a Vietnamese perspective. Unlike Hollywood films with a one-sided focus on the American psyche, Ham Tran’s impressive feature-length debut delves into the stories of those left behind after the fall of Saigon.
Despite his allegiance to the toppled South Vietnamese government, Long Nguyen decides to remain in Vietnam. Arrested and imprisoned in a Communist re-education camp, he urges his family to make the treacherous escape by boat without him. They embark on the arduous ocean voyage, braving sickness, starvation and pirates in the hope of reaching the U.S. and freedom. Back in Vietnam, Long suffers years of solitary confinement and hard labor, and finally despairs that his family has perished. But news of their successful resettlement in America inspires him to make one last desperate attempt to join them.
This gorgeous, gripping epic skillfully interweaves the little-known horrors of the re-education camps with a visceral account of the trials and triumphs of the refugee experience. With superb performances and luminous cinematography, it tells an intensely moving story with dignity and astonishing lyricism. Filmed in the lush terrain of Southeast Asia by Guillermo Rosas (BEFORE NIGHT FALLS) and the sun-baked streets of California by Julie Kirkwood, JOURNEY FROM THE FALL is a tribute to the perseverance and hope of the Vietnamese people, and a testament to the beauty and power of filmmaking.
I will not be able to see it until it comes out in DVD, but if you are in San Franciso (March 16 -23), Berkeley (March 17 - 25), and San Jose (March 24 - 26), go see the movie. Here is the site you can order tickets.