CA Republican State Senator Silenced
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A rallying cry has stirred up after Republican State Senator Janet Nguyen was asked to leave the floor hearing this past Thursday when she refused to quiet her speech criticizing former Senator Tom Hayden.
Sen Nguyen was born in South Vietnam, and fled with her family when the government collapsed in 1975. She spoke on the issue during a Senate floor hearing honoring those who have died. Hayden was a leader in the Anti-Vietnam war in the 1960s. While presenting her speech against Hayden, Nguyen was asked several times to silence herself, under the premise that her speech was presented at a time deemed inappropriate. However, Nguyen persisted, continuing her speech after her microphone was turned off, until several sergeants-at-arms were asked to remove her from the hearing, CBS reports.
Hayden died in late October. Just two days earlier, the Senate took time to honor Hayden for his work in the anti-war movement, and his service in the California State Legislature. Sen. Nguyen’s press release stated that she waited two days before presenting her thoughts, first in Vietnamese and then in English, in order to provide a differing perspective to the late senator according to her webpage.
In her speech, she stated that “Mr. Hayden sided with a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family... Mr. Hayden’s actions are viewed by many as harmful to democratic values and hateful towards those who sought the very freedoms on which this nation is founded.”
She also said, "I have every right to speak on behalf of the 500,000.” Janet Nguyen is the California State Senator for Garden Grove, California, a portion of Orange County known for its incredibly diverse population—including a substantial percentage of constituents who identify as being of Asian descent. In her statement, Nguyen was specifically referencing her over 500,000 Vietnamese-American Constituents located in the portion of her district known as “Little Saigon.”
From this debacle, there has been a lot of backlash placed on Sen. Kevin de Leon, the Senate Majority Leader. Senate Minority Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) even stated that, "I very seldom get enraged, and I am deeply enraged at this moment" according to US News. De Leon has since apologized for removing Nguyen from the floor hearing, and an investigation has begun on the incident. Many Republicans have rushed to support Sen. Nguyen, referencing the scandal that ensued with Sen. Elizabeth Warren when she was asked to leave the Senate Confirmation hearing on Jeff Sessions, even using the hashtag #shepersisted. The consequences of this have been monumental, showing not only the growing power of individual senators, but also the increase in power of a minority party, both in state and national governments through the use of mainstream media.
"I'm very sad because the very people who elected me to represent them and be their voice on the Senate floor, I wasn't allowed to speak on their behalf," Nguyen stated after interviewing with the Los Angeles Times. The entirety of Senator Nguyen's speech is available on her official State Senate Website in both English and Vietnamese.