Ohio’s Oberlin College has long been a bastion of liberalism and extreme political correctness. (It’s where Lena Dunham went to college, after all.) But the college may have gone too far with its recent move to cancel a show by the group Viet Cong. The group, which is named after the army/political organization the U.S. and South Vietnamese government fought during the Vietnam War, was booked to play March 14 at the college’s Dionysus Disco, but had its show cancelled by the promoter.
Ivan Krasnov, the promoter, said in a statement on the venue’s Facebook page that he was sorry “for inviting a band with a name that deeply offends and hurts Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American communities, both in Oberlin and beyond,” and says he “extend[s his] apology to anyone hurt or made uncomfortable by the name and its connotations.”
As Krasnov writes on Facebook, Viet Cong’s members aren’t offended by the name they’ve chosen for themselves, saying in an interview that “it’s just a band name. It’s just what we called ourselves.” That’s a clear sign of privilege to Krasnov, though, who says “the fact that the band openly acknowledges their problematic name, yet fails to change it or do anything about it, highlights this blatantly appropriative move, reinforcing a tradition of American (and Western) orientalism and appropriation.” Why Krasnov didn’t realize the group’s perceived levels of offensiveness months ago when he actually booked the band, signed a contract, and paid a deposit is anyone’s guess.