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As this column makes clear, governments at all levels abuse the public, trample human rights, and waste taxpayers’ money on a massive scale. Sometimes government abuses its own and the public at the same time. Witness the recent smackdown on free speech at the California capitol.
On February 21, the state Senate held a memorial for the late senator Tom Hayden the New Left radical who died back on October 23, 2016. Senate Democrats hailed him in hagiographical style as a “visionary,” a “maverick,” an “independent thinker” and a devotee of “peace, and equity.” Sen. Janet Nguyen, who came to the USA as a Vietnamese refugee, had a different take, but she held off because members of Hayden’s family were present. Two days later, Nguyen rose to offer a different perspective.
“Today I recognize in memory the millions of Vietnamese and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees who died in seeking for freedom and democracy,” she said. At that point, Sen. Ricardo Lara told her to stop, then shut down the immigrant senator’s microphone. Nguyen kept speaking and refused an order to take a seat. Lara then commanded the Sergeant at Arms to remove Janet Nguyen from the senate floor. Accounts of her removal described Hayden as an “anti-war” activist, inaccurate because he was opposed only to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam conflict. Hayden championed the Stalinist Vietnamese regime that drove so many to flee, including Janet Nguyen, born in Ho Chi Minh City in 1976.
Comfy politicians such as Lara and senate majority leader Bill Monning, who took a lead role against Janet Nguyen, never experienced totalitarian rule. On the other hand, they seem to share totalitarians’ distaste for free speech. When an immigrant woman dared speak the truth to power, they turned off her microphone and tossed her by force from the room. Senate bosses also cut off the feed from the California Channel, so viewers statewide would not hear an immigrant woman speak the truth to power. This is a familiar tactic to keep the people in the dark.
As we noted, before the 2012 election, Senate boss Darrell Steinberg cut off the California Channel video on a hearing covering four ballot measures on taxes and spending. “I pride myself on being open and transparent,” he explained. Steinberg is now major of Sacramento.