"Communism for kids"

HärärNordvietnamWhen I grew up the Vietnam war was raging. This was the first televised war. In Sweden, there was a strong anti-war and pro-NLF opinion, read more here (opens in a new window). The slogan was: "USA out of Vietnam". You should organize, mobilize and fund collections. My parents seemed to have missed that memo. I think it's safe to say that they had traditional values. They were not committed to this left-wing movement. And besides, probably too busy supporting and raising three kids. My parents didn't live a rich social life with invitations and dinners. On the contrary, these occassions were rare. However, one visit is etched on my mind. A couple paid us a visit. The guests brought some gifts. The couple gave me the book on the right (translation: Here is North Vietnam!). The album cover stood out. A barrel of a rifle on the back signaling resistance and guerilla warfare. This book wasn't just any book. This was communism for kids. The 39 pages long easy-to-read picture book didn't deal with complicated things like the adaptation of Marxism–Leninism to Vietnamese conditions. Instead, the message was simple. The US president says the American soldiers are there to defend the people of Vietnam. Nowadays, not many people in Sweden believe that. The Vietnamese should decide in Vietnam, they say. Many people understand that the Vietnamese are right when they say that. That is why more and more people are saying: USA out of Vietnam. Here are some snapshots from the content: Ho Chi Minh (Uncle Ho) was loved by his people just like a family member (to underline this: a large portrait hanging on the wall in a Vietnamese home). A woman working at a lathe with her rifle (easily accessible) hanging on the wall behind. Cluster bomb-wounded children in a hospital. Three men posing with machine guns under a NFL-flag with admiring villagers in the background. Don't get me wrong. The Vietnam war was wrong and led to death, destruction and terrible suffering. My objections are about the unreflected personality cult and penchant for weapons. 

My father wasn't amused. On the contrary. The atmosphere got a bit awkward. When the couple had left my father mumbled something in his inimitable accent about "coming to our home and giving my son political propaganda". The guests clearly didn't know my father or his background. Bringing propaganda to the son of a refugee with first-hand experience of communism isn't a very good idea if you want to build relations. As far as I can remember, I never saw the couple again. The book is gone. I think it "got lost" when we moved away to a new place. However, it has become somewhat of a cult book. The second hand price is 250 SEK (almost $30), which is high for a used children's book singing the praises of Uncle Ho. Political propaganda comes in many shapes and forms. Music is one of them. At least, in the hands and service of the Swedish communist party KPML(r), read more here (opens in a new window). They were hardliners under surveillance of the Swedish Security Service. You should check out the "Ballad of Ho Chi Minh" performed by the KPML(r)-affiliated band "Knutna Nävar", translation: "Clenced Fists", originally written by British folk singer, songwriter, labour activist and actor Ewan MacColl in 1954. "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh. Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh."


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