Democratic politician Bee Nguyen is the U.S. state of Georgia's first Vietnamese-American state representative, after she won a special runoff election in 2017.
After winning again in the 2020 general election for the Georgia House of Representatives, Nguyen chose to wear an áo dài — a popular national costume of Vietnam — to her swearing-in ceremony.
Wore áo dài because of those who flew South Vietnamese flag
Nguyen, 39, shared a photo on Twitter of her taking the oath while wearing a blue áo dài.
In her tweet, Nguyen wrote that she made the decision to wear the áo dài after seeing the South Vietnamese flag flown during the storming of the U.S. Capitol the week prior.
According to a 2020 survey of Asian American voters, about 48 per cent of Vietnamese Americans said that they would vote for Donald Trump, an increase from 2016.
NBC News reported that this right-leaning trend has to do with the Republican party's language surrounding communism and hard stance against China.
Many of those who carried the yellow-and-red-striped and now-defunct flag of South Vietnam were Trump supporters who have used the flag as a symbol to express opposition to communism and a nostalgia for their lost home, reported NBC News.
However, NBC News added, for other Vietnamese Americans, they saw the South Vietnamese flag as a symbol of unity and democracy, and felt that its presence at the Capitol riots went directly against what they feel it stands for.
Nguyen expressed these sentiments in her tweet, writing that seeing the South Vietnamese flag being flown during the attempted coup on the Capitol brought her "deep anger" and "shame".
Thus, she wrote, she decided to wear her áo dài to take the oath of office, because the people who flew the South Vietnamese flag at the Capitol "don’t get to speak for me".
When I saw the South Vietnamese flag flown during last week’s attempted coup, I felt deep anger & shame. I decided to wear my Viet áo dài to take the oath of office — because they don’t get to speak for me. While my family couldn’t be here, I’m grateful for my beloved colleagues. pic.twitter.com/uW3haIOR9r— Bee Nguyen 🐝 (@BeeForGeorgia) January 11, 2021
Parents were refugees
According to Nguyen's website, her parents were refugees to the U.S. from Vietnam. Her father was imprisoned for three years during the war, and her parents resettled in Iowa after the war, reported NBC News.
Nguyen made headlines in Dec. 2020 when she publicly debunked claims by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign staffer and election data analyst, about potential voter fraud in Georgia.
Braynard claimed that he had managed to identify 4,926 people who cast absentee or early ballots in Georgia, but who were registered to vote in another state.
Nguyen pointed out that there were a number of names that were duplicated on the list.
She also shared that out of the first 10 names on the list, she was able to find eight property tax records that showed that the residents did in fact live in at their homes in Georgia.
In addition, she was able to contact several individuals by phone to verify that that they still resided in Georgia and had only voted in Georgia.
The Washington Post reported that Nguyen said, in an interview after the hearing:
"If you are going to take the names of voters in the state of Georgia and publish their first, middle and last name, their home address, and accuse them of committing a felony, at the very minimum there should have been an attempt to contact these voters.
There was no such attempt."
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Top photos by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images and via Twitter / Bee Nguyen.