Vietnamese communists had their first big PR coup during the Tet offensive of 1968, when CBS’ Walter Cronkite ignored the decisive U.S. military victory and told America the war was unwinnable. Three and a half decades later, here comes CBS again, allowing an entertainment show to participate in a bit of old-fashioned communist propaganda.
The March 17 episode of “The Amazing Race” featured its usual routine; teams travelling to different countries and completing tasks in a race to reach the finish line. These tasks typically involve learning about another culture. However, in last night’s episode, when contestants traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam, and had to memorize a Communist song, it moved from squishy multiculturalism to offensive agitprop.
The segment started out with a group of Vietnamese teenagers and children on stage, waving the Communist flag and singing . CBS provided the charming lyrics on the bottom of the screen:
“Vietnam Communist Party is glorious.
Long live freedom and independence of our Nation,
Our land does not forget the truth in your name.
Vietnam, we are going to the century of light.
Socialism is growing more beautiful with time.
Follow the party’s step. Be loyal. Be pure.
Although the path has been muddy with rain and dusty with sun,
Vietnam, spring has come (repeat chorus).
Glory to our young generation.”
The camera meanwhile pans up to a large portrait hanging behind the stage of late North Vietnamese communist dictator and mass-murderer Ho Chi Minh.
Contestants were then required to memorize the lyrics and find the lyrics written on propaganda posters outside.
Unfortunately this singing wasn’t the only tactless task. Later in the episode, the teams were required to go to the B-52 Memorial in Hanoi. This memorial is really just a wreckage site, which gloriously displays a shot down American bomber plane. One wonders if it was shot down using the prop from another of the communists’ big propaganda moments, when Jane Fonda posed grinning on an NVA anti-aircraft gun.
Nearly 60,000 Americans died fighting the Soviet- and Chinese-backed North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were massacred in Southeast Asia in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal. For CBS to return to the scene and incorporate anti-American propaganda into a game is insensitive and disrespectful to all Americans who honor the lives lost in the Vietnam War.