San Jose Councilmen Vent in Letter to President Obama; Honda Staffer Stifles Free Speech

Ted Osius, the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, paid a visit to San Jose’s City Hall earlier this summer, and since that time pretty much all hell has broken loose. In a letter sent to President Obama last week, San Jose councilmen Manh Nguyen and Tam Nguyen (no relation) called out Osius for wearing a communist red flag on his lapel, an affront to many who were forced to flee Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. Osius also apparently refused to be photographed with the South Vietnam Freedom Flag, which is yellow with horizontal red stripes, due to the diplomatic strain it could cause with communist leaders. And to add a scoach more contentiousness, Ngoc Minh Do, a local Vietnamese activist, was told by an event staffer that she needed to remove a lanyard featuring the U.S. and yellow flags, just to make sure there was no photobombing. “The Ambassador’s blatant disregard for the values of Vietnamese-Americans shows his lack of both leadership and courage,” Manh and Tam wrote to Obama. The backlash has since pivoted on who exactly told Do to lose the lanyard. At first many laid blame at the feet of San Jose Councilman Ash Kalra, who helped organize the event, but that turned out to be false. Sources have since confirmed the strident staffer is Jennie Ayap, who works in the office of Congressman Mike Honda. What makes the situation all the more perplexing—or hypocritical—is that Honda and colleague Rep. Zoe Lofgren fired off a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry after the event excoriating Osius’ actions. This could just be another example of Honda not knowing what his staffers are up to—he did, after all, blame his chief of staff for what’s now become a congressional ethics probe—or it could be part of a larger pattern of willful ignorance.

Below are images of the letter Honda and Lofgren sent:




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  1. Obama, the worst and most destructive president of any recent president. He is socialist, racist, and pro Islamic terrorist. It should be no surprise that a member of his administration is a communist sympathizer. And I voted for Obama in his first term. Where is his outrage on the 10 police officers that have been assassinated in the past couple of weeks? What a total pos.

    • There have been 10 persons killed by police just in the bay area alone. People keep saying police are special because they can be harmed on duty but when they do act all surprised and outraged. I served 25 years in the military with numerous deployments and knew it could be dangerous but guess what I knew that when I signed my name on the contract.

      • I have the utmost respect for all those in the military. I also consider those in the military special, just as are police officers. They are both willing to do job, whether in another country, or in our own neighborhoods, that others are not, to keep us safe. Both are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and lay down their life for a complete stranger. Thank you for your service to our county, Florencio. I hope you have found peace in your post military life, Our country needs to do a much better job of taking care of our veterans, as the current situation is not acceptable.

      • Thanks for your service. I am also a veteran. Like many Vets I also became a policeman. As a vet and a policeman I knew the risks and volunteered anyway. Every loss of life in the service of the country or society is an exceptional loss.

        Think about the sentiment behind the notion that if one volunteers for the military or police service in is injured or killed that it is “just part of the game thanks for playing.”

        I wonder how you or your family would react if you had a legitimate claim stemming from your service and you went down to the VA and some pencil pusher dismissed you saying, “You knew the risks when you signed the contract…”

  2. Ted Osius is definitely a sympathizer of VC (Vietnamese communist) government. He dared to announce in Orange County that Vietnam is improved in human right due to the fact there was only one human right activist in jail since he worked as ambassador at Hanoi, VN. That’s so irresponsible that lots of Vietnamese Americans activists got upset with him, because they all know VC govertment now physically beats up the dissidents instead of put them in jail.
    Ted should be fired by Congress due to his bias and poor performance.

  3. Curious.

    “We understand that current U.S. policy may not recognize the yellow flag and prohibits displaying it on federal property.”

    If correct, the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag is banned from 45.3% of California and 84.5% of Nevada.

    Wow! The Vietnamese flag is even more banned than the Confederate flag which is apparently NOT banned on federal property.

    What do the Feds have against Vietnamese?

  4. 1.- Who in the State Department requested the event organizers not to display the freedom and heritage flag of the Vietnamese Americans and to remove Ms. Do’s lanyard?
    2.- Is the act of requesting to remove Ms. Do’s lanyard with RVN flag a violation to the Freedom of Expression that was written in the US Constitution and the 1st Amendment?
    3.- Can such act be considered an emotional attack to the Vietnamese Community?
    4.- Mr. Osius feared of losing his job if photographed with the Vietnamese American symbols. Is this a policy of the State Department? Who will fire him? Based on what documentations?

    • In regards to your second question — Honda himself said that it was “not consistent” with the first amendment to demand the removal of the lanyard in his lanyard. Let’s see if he changes his tune now that it’s been revealed that he was responsible for that act, not the state department. Honda needs to apologize — for what he has his staff do, for covering it up, and for having the audacity to criticize the State Department for something his staff did.

  5. Can’t we all just get along?

    Here’s a model plan to bring the Feds and the Vietnamese community together so that they won’t be divided over such a simple thing as a flag:

    A BLM Free Speech Zone in San Jose where Vietnamese Americans might display the flag of their choice without fear of federal harassment or IRS tax audits.

    Who knows! This could even encourage other people to publicly talk about other things that are offensive to people who are easily offended.

  6. Ash Karla is also resposible because the incident happen in his house. He booked the hall and introduce the ambassador. Yes, Honda’s staff asked Mrs Ngoc Do to remove the symbol but did it in Ash Karlar house ( the hall of chamber city San Jose)

  7. The main point is the disrespectful attitude of Ted Osius toward the Vietnamese Community in California.

    1) Ted’s action showed that he was a very poor diplomat.

    * Coming to a freedom-loving community whose members were fighting, dying to protect their yellow with 3 red stripes flag and refusing to take pictures with the flag was an unprofessional and insensitive act. Moreover, in order to cover up for his action, Ted lied about the possibility of him being laid off by taking photos with the yellow flag (South Vietnam flag). Knowing that Mr. Osius is a gay, which I respect his life style and support his choice, I like to ask Ted how he feels if a high level official called a meeting with gay & lesbian community to ask for help then he refused to take photos with the Gay Lesbian Rainbow flag?

    * Coming to a community that its members had suffered deeply by the totalitarian regime (the communist regime in Vietnam) and wearing the lapel pin with Hanoi’s flag on it was like visiting a Jewish community and wore a swastika lapel pin on his shirt.

    2) So what is Ted’s motivation in this situation?

    There are 3 possibilities:

    * Ted had NO knowledge or understanding whatsoever about the Vietnamese Community in America. Ted had NO or very limited knowledge about Vietnam war to be a successful ambassador in Vietnam, an ambassador who is supposed to work for the United States government or the American people, including 1,000,000 Vietnamese American in the USA, who pay taxes to pay him to do the right job.

    * Ted brown-nosed Hanoi’s regime to get some privileges from the Vietnam communist government.

    * Ted felt in to the trap of a broader conspiracy by the Vietnam communist regime which always tries to undermine the strong freedom-loving Vietnamese community in the United States.

    In short, we the Vietnamese-American citizens are very disappointed about ambassador Ted Osius. . We feel betrayed and disrespected by Mr. Osius. From the proffessional point of view, we feel that Mr. Ted Osius is not capable to represent the United States to deal with the Vietnam communist regime.

    Ly Nhan Ban

  8. It’s complicated…but Vietnam is becoming a helpful ally…so there is some increased sensitivity to the image projected by the U.S. Government…but like Cuban immigrants…a lot of Vietnamese are committed to their sense of South Vietnamese identity…and I believe this should be honored and respected. If it is not federal property, there should be no reason not to allow it’s display as long as it is flown slightly lower than the flag of the United States of America. If there are federal officials involved (like ambassadors) they are kinda under orders not to get caught posing near the flag, but that is a Department of State internal affairs matter, and mistakes happen. I think San Jose is doing a good job of embracing immigrants from many nations and cultures, both refugees and immigrants, and making a great a diverse community with opportunities for all.

  9. Wow, someone in the Obama Administration was wearing a Communist Flag Lapel Pin and a Democrat congressman’s staffer demanded someone remove a lanyard that depicted an American Flag and a ‘Freedom Flag,” because the lanyard might offend… Communists???

    …let me guess, if this absurd event troubles me I must be a racist.

  10. The US established diplomatic relations with Communist Viet Nam 20 years ago. Bill Clinton is the culprit — take it up with him.

    • Whew! I’m so relieved that this is Clinton’s fault because that means I am not a racist.

      Wait a second…. If this is Clinton’s Fault that means that we (Michael Dix and I) are part of a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy that doesn’t play by the Fundamental Rules of Fairness and we engage in the Politics of Personal Destruction!

      I guess it could be worse. If Hillary finds out about this we would be conscripted by default into the War on Women… unless, unless of course we could redeem ourselves by publicly announcing that “For the first time in our [sic] adult lifetime I am proud of my country!”

      Talk about redemption on three fronts parroting Michelle means I’m not a racist, not engaged in the War on Women and Proud of America as she has evolved!

      I’ll have to give this some thought…

  11. The US Ambassador to Vietnam is a diplomatic position, isn’t it ?

    If it is so, the Honorable Ted Osius failed to act diplomatically when he appeared in front of the Vietnamese-American audience.

    Instead of befriending his audience, he successfully upset his audience. What kind of diplomacy is that ?

    It is unbelievable that a high ranked diplomat could not act diplomatically in a diplomatic situation.

    We, the Vietnamese-Americans, who live here legally and have helped paying taxes to build this country for the past 40 years, we DEMAND:
    1/ an apology, and
    2/ a prompt corrective action.

    Are you, Mr. US Ambassador to Vietnam, serving the PEOPLE of this Country OR are you getting paid to serve the Vietnamese communists in Vietnam ?

    When you, Mr. US Ambassador, come to talk to the Taiwanese-American Community, do you ask them to put the Chinese communist flag up and bring the Taiwanese Flag down ? Is that diplomatic ?

    It is like I am coming to your house, and I am asking you to take down the picture of your beloved father because he is dead or because I am allergic to him, and I really cannot have a picture taken with your father’s dead face on it. How do you feel ? How are you going to respond to that request ? Am I still welcome to your home ?

    Well, California State Senator Janet Nguyen failed to respond quickly and appropriately to Mr. US Ambassador’s inappropriate request when he came to her private home in Southern California and disrespectfully demanded her to remove her identity of being here in America which is the Vietnamese-Refugee Flag, BUT, not us !

    NO, not the REAL Vietnamese-refugees, who are now American constituents !
    We just had to show Mr. US Ambassador to Vietnam the door, in a diplomatic way.

    We are living in America, and Mr. US Ambassador to Vietnam is treating us like this. Imagine if you were to travel to Vietnam, and the Vietnamese communists had treated you inhumanly, how confident would you feel the US Embassy and Mr. US Ambassador to Vietnam would help you ?

    Probably NADA, ZERO CONFIDENT !!!
    Because Mr. US Ambassador to Vietnam had said that “he is so afraid of losing his job”, and probably making his Vietnamese communist “bosses” get up-set !

    The picture is clear ! And we, the Vietnamese-Americans, the US Constituents, are ready to help clean up this mess !

    We thank both San Jose City Council-members Manh Nguyen and Tam Nguyen for their prompt response to our community’s request, and to put a demand to President Barrack Obama for corrective action. Thank you,

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