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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Little Saigon

What ethnic subset has as much clout as expatriate Cubans in Miami? Seems like the Vietnamese in San Jose -- 100,000 of them -- would like to get there. There's a big fight over whether the Vietnamese business district should be called the Saigon Business District or Little Saigon:

San Jose's Vietnamese community long has yearned for official recognition of their contributions to the city. Arriving as refugees after South Vietnam fell to communist forces in 1975 and its capital, Saigon, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnamese immigrants helped rebuild run-down areas of town.

It was the heart-felt attachment to the name Saigon - along with suspicions that the council didn't give other alternatives a fair hearing - that led hundreds to picket City Hall, even on New Year's Day.

I also have an attachment to the name Saigon, though I visited it only once for a week during my year in Vietnam. I was sad to see the name replaced with Ho Cho Minh City. (At least we have still have a Saigon in Fort Wayne.) Many parts of it are quite beautiful, with a French colonial atmosphere.

It's fascinating to see what stirs passionate debate in some cities. This partcicular drama features City Council member Madison Nguyen, the first Vietnamese elected to office in California, who championed the "Saigon Business District" name and persuaded other council members to go along, only to incur the wrath of all the Vietnamese who preferred Little Saigon.


Larry Morris
Tue, 02/12/2008 - 3:08pm

Just goes to show you, you can't ever please everyone, ...

Bob G.
Thu, 02/14/2008 - 11:15am

...Just don't tell all the Italians in all the "Little Italys" across the nation.

We don't want to cheese THEM off, right?