Earlier this year, Canadian post-punk act Viet Cong released its self-titled album on Jagjaguwar records. And while the album has been met with accolades, the band has spent the past few weeks wrapped up in controversy thanks to its name. Viet Cong’s name first took the spotlight when Ohio’s Oberlin College canceled a previously scheduled show, with promoter Ivan Krasnov citing, “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,” as the reason for the cancelation.
Since then others have taken a stance on the band’s name, with Gang Of Four guitarist Andy Gill—whose band name carries similar political connotations—stating that Krasnov’s choice to cancel the show is “illiberal, undemocratic and anti-progressive.” After weeks of talk swirling around them, the band has issued an open letter, addressing those that have taken issue with the name:
Our band, Viet Cong, has existed for a little over three years now. When we named ourselves, we were naive about the history of a war in a country we knew very little about. We now better understand the weight behind the words Viet Cong. While we don’t take any concerns about the name lightly, we feel it is important to let you know that we never meant to trivialize the atrocities or violence that occurred on both sides of the Vietnam War. We never intended for our name to be provocative or hurtful.
We truly appreciate the seriousness of the feedback we’ve received, and we will continue to be open to listening to issues and concerns from all perspectives.
With love from the band Viet Cong.
The statement has already been met with its own backlash, as advocates for the band to change its name continue to push the issue on social media. The band remains quiet on the name change issue, however.