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May 05, 2005

Kim Phuc Today

The Bruderhof people, who are so crazy they actually follow the teachings of Jesus, have posted a UNESCO interview with Kim Phuc, the screaming girl in the famous Vietnam picture. She is now 42 and lives in Toronto with her husband and children. As is obvious, she is still horribly scarred.

However, she's achieved a remarkable mental transformation and forgiven the people who did this to her. According to the interview introduction, she told an audience of American veterans that if she met the pilot who dropped the napalm on her, she would say to him "we cannot change history, but at least we can try and do our best to promote peace." As it happened, one of the men who coordinated the attack on her province was in the audience, and she embraced him.

I hope she can also forgive the extremely unpleasant actions of the Vietnamese government, which wanted to exploit her suffering:

In 1982, I went through another very difficult ordeal. I had been admitted to Saigon medical school. Unfortunately, one day the government realized that I was the little girl in the picture and they came to get me to work with them, to use me as a symbol, and I didn't want to. "Let me study," I asked them, "I don't want to do anything else." So they automatically kept me out of school. It was awful. I didn't understand: why me? Why could my friends continue their studies and not me? I felt as though I had always been a victim. At 19, I no longer had any hope and wanted to die.

I've said it before and will say it again: all governments everywhere are the scum of the earth.

Phuc is now a goodwill ambassador with UNESCO. She also works with a foundation named for her and writes about her experiences, as in this column: "I Am That Girl."

Posted at May 5, 2005 02:29 PM | TrackBack

Amazing article. Heartwrenching yet inspirational.

People pretty much share the same basic needs and wants everywhere in the world. It's the Governments that f**k it up.

Posted by: jillian at May 5, 2005 07:55 PM

Is anarchy any better then?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at May 5, 2005 08:48 PM

Let me put it this way: the only thing abolishing government accomplishes is an more equitable distribution to the right of acting on one's worst impulses. Everyone becomes the scum of the Earth once that is accomplished.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at May 5, 2005 09:10 PM

It's still individuals that need change...never entire bodies of people.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at May 5, 2005 10:22 PM

I think the Disney cartoon "The Brave Little Tailor" is an excellent depiction of government: a brutal, powerful beast that wrecks things even through its unconscious acts, when it isn't being deliberately violent. However, if it is tied down by many, many small ropes, it can be wrangled into a useful form, and its power can be harnessed to drive windmills and trains and ferris-wheels and other such good stuff. Provided the ropes hold.

Posted by: saurabh at May 5, 2005 11:26 PM

Don't forget, this beast is a symbiotic entity, made up of thousands and thousands of human beings...what are we going to do about them when they could be our relatives or our friends? And I am not just talking about the high officials, look at the minor bureaucrats, the police, the fire department etc..if we have relatives and friends there, we must see that they are part of the government too, like it or not.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at May 6, 2005 12:23 AM

She may have forgiven Americans, but she hasn't chosen to live in America, has she?

Posted by: Alexis S at May 6, 2005 11:24 AM

In the meantime, has anyone read about Loung Ung, the Cambodian woman from the ruling class who was made to serve in a labor camp?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at May 8, 2005 10:59 PM

Kim Phuc is free to forgive her tormentors and is probably well advised to do so. But we should not. Murderous liars such as Johnson and Nixon did this to her in all our names and under our banner, defiling both in the process. And the debasing of all things American continues today and will do so for decades to come, continually eroding away at the American balance sheet with regard to its relative contributions to and crimes against the world. Virtually everything for which one can be proud in America is in her past, most of it done by great people now dead and gone. The America of today is a blight on the world as it foments war, pollutes environments, obstructs progress (population control, AIDS prevention, alternative energy development), squanders resources, subverts science and truth, foments religious intolerance and much more. The America I can be proud of promoted individual freedoms, democracy, human rights and personal development. Today's America is antithetical to all of these. Hate America first? No, I loved America first. But that was based on past accomplishments. Today, I am ashamed of what my nation does in my name and with dollars I contribute. The hideous scar on the back of this unfortunate Vietnamese woman, a victim of America's killing industry, is really a scar on the souls of all of us who passively accept the monstrosities perpetrated in our names.

Posted by: S A Segall at May 11, 2005 09:35 AM

'The Bruderhof people, who are so crazy they actually follow the teachings of Jesus', I don't think I understand this comment. I am not christian myself (I am a Baha'i) but isn't this comment contridicating the content of this article. Kim Phuc from what I understand from this article promotes goodwill and peace amongst people. However if you write a comment intolerant of another persons faith such as the one above..what sort of peace and goodwill are you promoting?

Posted by: m.lart at July 26, 2005 02:34 AM