Orange County Democratic party leader resigns after post praising Ho Chi Minh –

Jeff LeTourneau resigned Thursday from leadership roles with the Democratic Party of Orange County after facing sharp criticism for sharing a Facebook post that praised Ho Chi Minh, the late communist leader of Vietnam.

The longtime progressive activist initially said he wouldn’t step down, arguing that expressing an unpopular political opinion wasn’t grounds for removal from office. He declined to comment Thursday on why he changed his mind, saying only that a settlement agreement required him to defer all questions to the party spokeswoman.

Other party leaders said LeTourneau agreed to step down after the group held a heated, five-hour discussion Wednesday night.

Critics say when LeTourneau shared a pro-Minh message he opened old wounds for Vietnamese refugees and undid years of hard work by the Democratic Party to win over local Vietnamese American voters. They added that the move gave Republicans ammunition to paint all Democrats as communists, with online commenters saying things like, “Are you surprised? The left openly stands for communism and all the failed states that stupidly tried it.”

LeTourneau’s supporters say the reaction feels like a return to Cold War-era McCarthyism, with more progressive party members punished for expressing their views.

The controversy started Sunday when LeTourneau shared a Facebook post that discussed how Minh was a political force even though he was small in stature, never married or had kids. “Ho Chi Minh may be considered some sort of pariah or socially awkward. Instead, Ho Chi Minh liberated an entire poor, colonized nation from 2 of the most powerful imperial military forces in the world (the US and France) and won full independence for the people of Vietnam.”

When LeTourneau started hearing negative feedback about the post, he quickly removed it. On Monday night he issued an apology.

But Republican candidates seized the opportunity to start using the controversy against their Democratic opponents in tight races.

Many DPOC leaders said they didn’t feel LeTourneau’s apology went far enough in undoing the damage he’d caused. If he wouldn’t resign, some said they would push to have him removed.

“My family and I are victims of Ho Chi Minh’s ruthless legacy to suppress opposition, as are all of the Vietnamese residing in Orange County,” Annie Wright, the first Vietnamese American to hold a top leadership position with the DPOC, said Tuesday. “For an officer of the Party to praise such a despot is incredibly hurtful and disrespectful to the Vietnamese community.”

The party met Wednesday night to discuss the issue in a closed door meeting. Thursday morning, they announced LeTourneau’s resignation.

“In the past days, the trauma that Ho Chi Minh’s dictatorship wrought on Vietnamese members of our community has been made abundantly clear to me,” LeTourneau said in a statement from the party. “To the almost 35,000 Vietnamese members of the Democratic Party in Orange County, and to all Vietnamese members in our community, I apologize for sharing the post. I hope that my resignation from leadership positions in the Democratic Party would be a first step in healing and reconciliation for our communities.”

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