- Category: Op-Ed ( Op-Ed )
- Published on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 12:56
The name Phu Nguyen is not common in the pool of candidates running for assembly. But then again, Phu Nguyen is not a common candidate.
A Democrat running for the 68th Assembly District -- which includes Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Westminster, Anaheim and Stanton — Phu has a long-standing relationship with Orange County and has embraced its growing diverse population. While himself a devout Catholic, Phu values the plurality of faiths that exist within Orange County. On New Year’s Day of this year, members of the Islamic Education Center of Orange County spotted a burning Qur’an in the parking lot.
This marked the second incident of Qur’an burning on the premises in one month and a continuation of a string of acts of vandalism and hate mail in the Costa Mesa area. Since I was a volunteer on Phu’s core team I alerted him of the incident. Phu met with the leaders of the mosque and the community to express his support and denounced the act of hate. He assured them that he was a candidate who would be not only tolerant, but accepting of different religions -- a voice against injustice and prejudice.
After all, his family escaped communist Vietnam, a country that oppresses all religions and in fact, according to Amnesty International, has a despicable record on human rights and freedom
Refugees from Vietnam, Phu’s family spent a month stranded at sea before arriving in Orange County with little more than two dollars in hand. This experience defined his parents’ worldview and made them determined to see Phu and his sisters succeed in their new homeland.
They worked to provide their children with the chance to attend local Catholic schools and instilled in Phu a strong work ethic. He eventually came to graduate from California State University Fullerton with a degree in Political Science.
Phu then went on to earn a Gandhi Fellowship in the Master’s program in Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego, where he graduated from the interdisciplinary program in International Relations, Conflict Resolution and Ethics.
After completing his academic career, Phu became vice president of Saigon Central Post, Inc, a company that specializes in remittances for the local Vietnamese community. The company started with one storefront and soon grew into a chain spanning fifteen states. He continues to work for this successful company today.
Although Phu Nguyen is a savvy businessman, his true passion lies with the community, which becomes apparent with his history of service.
Soon after college, Phu was elected to the presidency of the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California (UVSA) — an umbrella organization for students from local high schools, colleges, and universities. As president, Phu also chaired the annual Tet Festival, an event hosted by the UVSA.
With Phu in command, the annual three-day event became the most prominent Vietnamese New Year’s celebration in the United States. Phu also saw to it that the festival became profitable, implementing measures that grew revenues from $30,000 to nearly $300,000 per year.
These profits were then reinvested into the community in the form of a grant program that awards grants to local charities and faith-based groups. Phu was instrumental in establishing this program, which has donated close to a million dollars over the past decade.
With his natural leadership abilities, sharp business acumen, compassion for the community and pluralistic worldview, Phu Nguyen represents an uncommon combination in the political world.
Hard-working and dedicated to his principles, Phu will take these values to Sacramento and ensure that the views of the 68th district and its diverse communities will be strongly represented in the state assembly.
As a member of the community I urge my fellow brothers and sisters to support Phu at the upcoming election in November.
— Alkamalee Jabbar serves on the Anaheim Heritage and Cultural Commission. Christopher Hickey contributed to this guest column.
- Category: Op-Ed ( Op-Ed )
- Published on Tuesday, 28 December 2010 12:55
AN INTERFAITH VIEW
Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania is the latest to take heat from the Israel Lobby, mainly because he attended a meeting with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). So the cultural vigilantes of the Lobby put together a slick TV ad that tries to tie him to terrorism. Never mind the fact that Sestak did what he thought was right—he didn’t obey the dictates of the Israel Lobby, so he has to be punished.
The neo-cons who are promoting this latest experiment in libel are pretty open about what they’re doing, and why. “We’re the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community,” exults neo-con godfather William Kristol. So here’s the crazy part—we’re not supposed to acknowledge that there’s an Israel Lobby, even though its main players talk openly about their activities! No, as Abraham Foxman pointed out in his book “The Deadliest Lies,” the existence of an Israel Lobby is a scurrilous falsehood made up by anti-Semites.
Got that? There’s no Lobby, but you’d better do what the Lobby says.
To help readers with this Orwellian dilemma, I offer these “12 Commandments of the Israel Lobby,” to be read if possible to the theme song of “The Twilight Zone.”
1. The Israel Lobby does not exist. In those cases where it does exist, its conclusions cannot be questioned.
2. All criticisms of Israel are false. They are invented by anti-Semites, self-hating Jews, and terrorists. Also by crypto-Nazis, apostates and liars.
3. All critics of Israel must be punished by extracting a public apology. Some offenders may be required to apologize more than once.
4. Those who criticize Israel and do not apologize must be endlessly harassed, and fired from their jobs if possible. In academia they must be denied tenure.
5. Any Arab or Muslim that criticizes Israel is a terrorist, and deserves to die.
6. To praise anybody who ever criticized Israel is the same thing as criticizing Israel. Just as all things Israeli are good, anybody that criticizes Israel is bad.
7. In any conflict involving Israelis and Palestinians, the Israelis are always the victims. If an Israeli hurts a Palestinian, the Israeli is still the victim because the Palestinian is trying to make the Israeli feel bad.
8. Israel/Palestine is never debated. That implies another side to the issue, and there is only one side. Therefore debate is suppressed or disrupted.
9. The United Nations, the World Court, the various UN agencies, every human rights organization and Non-Governmental Organization in the world that isn’t approved by the NGO Monitor [an Israeli screening operation] is anti-Semitic. That is because these organizations are likely to criticize Israel’s human rights record—and as any fool knows, that means they’re anti-Semitic.
10. The interests of the US are exactly the same as the interests of Israel. If they aren’t, the interests of Israel take precedence.
11. Any war that the US is likely to be involved in must be evaluated from the point of view of its helpfulness to the current government of Israel.
12. Anybody who threatens to make sense while criticizing Israel must be immediately shouted down. If shouting doesn’t work, screaming and crying are recommended. As a last resort, one must declare that criticisms of Israel are making one feel “unsafe.”
I support the call from Palestinian civil society for international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli apartheid, to end the longest and most brutal military occupation of our time. But there’s another reason, also. The Israel Lobby has become a thought police spending millions of dollars to stop anybody who wants a candid discussion of American interests in the Middle East. In short, we must defeat the Israel Lobby to restore free speech and freedom of association to our nation.
IFN columnist Lawrence Swaim is the executive director of the Interfaith Freedom Foundation. He taught for eight years at Pacific Union College, and his academic specialities are American studies and American literature. His column addresses current affairs from an American Christian and interfaith perspective.