As the anger at Joel Brinkley and his article on Vietnam shows no signs of disappearing I thought it was worth reminding people of this blog. As much as I’d like to post picture upon picture of their collection of birds spotted in Vietnam it’s better they get the hits and I don’t use their images without permission.
But I hope they’ll forgive me showing a list of their tags.
To remind you of the Brinkley quote:
You don’t have to spend much time in Vietnam before you notice something unusual. You hear no birds singing, see no squirrels scrambling up trees or rats scurrying among the garbage. No dogs out for a walk.
In fact, you see almost no wild or domesticated animals at all. Where’d they all go? You might be surprised to know: Most have been eaten.
Interestingly I was about to link Brinkley’s Wiki page that had a section on the controversy surrounding this article but it’s now been removed – leaving only the good stuff. Someone cleaning up after him?
Also of note is that while Tribune Media Services has added this to the post:
TMS has a rigorous editing process for its content, and in the case of Brinkley’s column that moved Jan. 29, all the required steps did not occur. We regret that this happened, and we will be vigilant in ensuring that our editing process works in the future.
…there appears to have been no attempt to stop the subsequent syndication of the article and despite all of the criticism it has since appeared in San Francisco Chronicle among others with no apparent amends and no apologies from publishers.
While TMS are obviously uncomfortable with the content Brinkley himself remains bullish. A friend who emailed him received a response citing his extensive research.
Of the comments below his original post in the Chicago Tribune this one from historian and US-born Hanoi expat Ginger Davis is among the most “liked”. It includes this snippet:
What I can tell you is that the entire neighborhood owns dogs, birds, and/or cats. They have stories of favorite pets throughout the last 30 years and earlier, especially those dogs they named “Nixon” during the war. Today dogs here even enjoy the dubious distinction of wearing sweaters in the winter as they guard their homes. Our local park put up “no pooping” signs for dog owners last year. Bird owners have clubs in cafes around town where the meet up regularly and wild birds sing so loudly that I have to sometimes turn up the radio to hear a song.
Other useful links – sourced via the Vietnam Bird News blog are Birding in Vietnam and Vietnam Birding which apparently specialises in “…custom birdwatching adventures and birding combination tours to Vietnam and beyond.”
A future trip for Mr Brinkley perhaps.
I’d rather link others’ views on here but it’s worth remembering that as much as Brinkley’s failings in research are obvious and much high-lighted we shouldn’t kid ourselves that all is well with wildlife in Vietnam. In terms of media coverage the irritation so often lies with visitors taking home their own mental snapshots from Vietnam based on first impressions and limited research. We can all be guilty of that, the problems start when it’s dressed up as fact rather than the “it appears to me” or “it would be easy to believe” level of information it is.
My final point is this, while trying to remember the url for the bird blog I googled “Birds Vietnam” and this was the third link. Just how extensive could Brinkley’s research have been?
I’ve read a lot of “it’s so sad when expats leave” articles and it is, it really is. But I have to admit the longer I stay the more the people I want to go outweigh those I hope will stay.
I’m slightly worried what it says about me but I guess we’re all escapees of some sort. When what we’ve escaped to becomes as static as what we’ve escaped from, we crave change. If we’re not going to leave then someone else has to.
My latest column, covering this topic, can be read in The Word or click the pic of the mag to download the whole thing as a pdf.
“Leaving is a valve. Not just for those people to flee who’ve had enough. The leaving of others is something that we all have to believe in. That person who’s rubbed us up the wrong way — don’t let it come to blows, or even an embarrassing confrontation. Just wait them out. Just another Johnny-Come-Lately to see off. I’ve seen off better expat jerks than this guy.
“And yes, there must be plenty people out there counting my days too.”
About this time of year an email goes back to the UK asking Mum, Dad, sisters, brothers-in-law and nieces and nephew what they want for Christmas.
Over the years they’ve become used to table cloths, DVDs with Mickey Mouse speaking Chinese and assorted silk dressing gowns that aren’t quite suited to the North East winter.
This year at least a couple of the kids are better catered for with the Little Blue Dragon book. Stephane and San Alexandre Yvin, from Green Tangerine, have apparently written and illustrated it and very lovely it is too. All proceeds are going to the very wonderful Blue Dragon and it’s in English and Vietnamese.
They cost a very reasonable 200,000 VND each and are available from Bookworm.
As regards Blue Dragon check out their recent post on trafficking – a robust defence on justifying the cost of rescue.
I particularly liked Michael’s line in the comment box:
“It sure is strange when NGOs say “We don’t get involved in individual cases.” If there is no “individual case,” then what is there? How do you help a million if you don’t help one?”
NGOs have become very sophisticated in highlighting the circumstances of individuals to boost their fundraising. For them then to turn around and suggest actually assisting individuals is somehow naive, well it doesn’t seem quite right.