Việt Nam & Hồ Chí Minh (Wilfred Burchett) [2011]

Burchetts bok befäster bilden av en äkta folkets ledare. En man med intellekt, men med enkelt språk och enkelt sätt – vänd mot folket. Även hans historia – hur han arbetat som betjänt, diskare och snöskottare (i Paris – Nguyễn Ái Quốc: Nguyen The Patriot, London, Moskva…) för att kunna tjänstgöra för sitt land (hur han avbröt Versailles-konferensen 1919 med sina åtta kravpunkter för ‘Indokina’)- har starkt folklig prägel. Disciplinen, den dagliga (läsa, träna, skriva) – jämte den organisatoriska (att våga hålla igen den väpnade kampen mot fransmännen tills japanerna hade fått övertaget över dem) – bekräftas och berör.

It is no accident that captured resistance fighters are almost invariably portrayed semi-nude, up to their middles in mud or roped together neck-to-neck, being marched off by grinning G.I. supermen. Vietnamese must be made to feel that they are racial inferiors with no right to national identity. For public consumption they are ”gooks,” ”slopes” and ”dinks;” a My Lai becomes a Pinkville its [sic] massacred inhabitants ”oriental human beings” in official reports.

Ho Chi Minh epitomizes all this [the Vietnamese people’s history of struggle and anticolonialism]. And just as there was something of every Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh so there is something of Ho Chi Minh in almost every present-day Vietnamese, so strong is his imprint on the Vietnamese nation.

President Ho… had the ability to make one feel at ease from the first moment and to present the most complex questions in a few clear words and gestures. In subsequent meetings with this great personality it is just those qualities of warmth, simplicity and the clarity of expression which comes only with exceptional intelligence and complete grasp of the subject which made the deepest impression.

[Sonen George B om faderns ”brott” – att rapportera från Hiroshima, Kina, Viet Nam, m.m. – vägrades inträde till sitt hemland.]

At the height of the Cold War and McCarthyist hysteria in the US and Australia these were obviously serious crimes punishable with exile and vilification. I should add that when my father married my mother in Bulgaria in 1949 he was denounced by the Bulgarian authorities as a British spy and declared persona non grata. My mum lost her job at the information ministry and was expelled from the Bulgarian communist party. They were only reunited two years later in Korea. That was at the height of Stalinist paranoia and show trials in Eastern Europe. Let me note here that my mother’s ”punishment” for marrying the western correspondent of a leading bourgeois paper, the London Times at that time, only lasted two years. My father’s punishment for speaking his mind on matters of war and peace lasted 17 years and was extended to the whole family. He wasn’t even allowed to visit his dying father nor to attend his funeral.


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