Stop this band, stop this show, Viet Cong has got to go.” That is what protestors chanted in unison at a protest on Friday Oct. 16, outside the popular music venue Neumos, located just north of the Seattle University campus.
The protest was created by members of the local Southeast Asian community who found the band name Viet Cong culturally insensitive and racist. The protest began with the creation of a Facebook event and came to fruition outside the doors of Neumos last Friday night. The goal of the protest was to cancel the show and implore the band’s members to change the name of their group.
Viet Cong is a Canadian punk band whose name has sparked controversy as their popularity has grown. Last March, a Viet Cong show near Oberlin College was canceled because of the offensive nature of the band’s title. After months of deliberation, the band decided to change their name.
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Cancel Viet Cong!
People gathered at the Neumos Theater in Capitol Hill to protest the theater, which promotes social justice of all kinds, booking a band with the name "Viet Cong." The band name is insensitive to many of Vietnamese ancestry, and those who have personal tragedies and trauma connected with the name.
Viet Cong Traumatic
Almost all members of the Vietnamese-American community has a traumatic personal connection to this name. Family, friends or even themselves personally were subject to the harsh and violent Viet Cong regime.
Protestors rallied at Seattle Central College, then marched down Broadway towards the Neumos Theater
Protestors Wave Yellow and Red Flags
Many of the protestors wove a red and yellow flag, different from the current Vietnam National Flag. This particular flag was used when American-backed South Vietnam was fighting North Vietnam and the Viet Cong regime.
Young to Old
Protestors ranged from young to old and colored to white, each bringing their own experience of racism or prejudice with them
Photos by Kyle Kotani • The Spectator
On Sept. 19, Viet Cong released a long-awaited statement that explained the decision to change their name.
“We are a band [that] wants to make music and play our music for our fans. We are not here to cause pain or remind people of atrocities of the past,” the statement said.
It went on to explain that the band plans to change their name as soon as they find one that they all agree upon, however, the statement was released last month and the band has yet to
change its name.
The Facebook event for the Viet Cong protest stated that the intention of the protest was not to provoke censorship, but rather to, “Hold Viet Cong accountable in their plans to change their name.”
Many of the protestors emphasized the fact that the band name Viet Cong is appropriative of a part of history that does not belong to the members of the band. In addition, the band’s name has the ability to spark traumatic memories.
Nancy Tran is a Vietnamese-American and junior at Seattle University.
“It’s a big part of our history and it affected a lot of lives,”Tran said.
Tran explained that the band’s name is disrespectful and that reminders of the Vietnam War are looked upon with disdain.
Sean Lu is a Vietnamese-American and Seattle U senior. Lu also felt that the name Viet Cong was distasteful and that the band chose their name without forethought.
“I’m pretty sure [Viet Cong] didn’t mean to insult anyone in any way, shape or form. But it’s the ignorance; they’re not educated about what happened,” Lu said.
Tran and Lu attended the protest in the hopes that they could help educate people about cultural appropriation and urge the band to change their name quickly.
Other protestors outside Neumos held signs that read, “Not your history. Not your name. Change it now!,” “Respect history” and many others. Protesters stood outside the club chanting and eventually evoked a response from the band’s drummer, Mike Wallace. Wallace explained that the show would go on.
“We’re happy to change the name, but it does require a little bit of time for us,” Wallace said to the crowd.
The crowd continued to protest until shortly before Viet Cong took the stage.
While the show at Neumos was not canceled, some protest attendees are still hopeful that they helped to educate a larger audience about the harmful effects words can have on a community. Viet Cong still has plans to change their name, though there is no confirmed date for when that will happen.
More protests against Viet Cong are scheduled along their North American tour. On Oct. 20, demonstrators were prepared to demonstrate outside of Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge, The editor may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org