An American teacher in Vietnam was forced to issue an apology after angering many Vietnamese netizens and eventually drawing the attention of the local communist government by insulting a late national hero on Facebook.
English language teacher Daniel Hauer, who has been living in Hanoi for five years, was caught in the controversy after commenting that he was getting a genital piercing with a part in the shape of Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, a revered figure known for his heroics against the French and Americans.
His comment came as a response to one soccer fan who said he’d get a Vietnamese flag tattoo if the country’s under-23 team won thee Asian cup.
According to NPR
, Hauer replied, “That was nothing – after a Vietnamese athlete recently won a gold medal, he said, he’d got a penis piercing making his testicles resemble Gen Giap.”
Giap’s death in 2013 at age 102 was widely mourned by the nation, and was honored with an elaborate state funeral.
Hauer is married to a Vietnamese woman, Le Thi Hau, with whom he has a child, according to The Associated Press. A fluent speaker of Vietnamese, Hauer reportedly has a significant following on social media where he posts his language videos and discussions on a variety of topics involving Vietnamese and Western culture.
However, his insensitive comments immediately drew a collective negative response from the public, with many expressing that he deserves to be deported for his actions.
Last week, Hauer apologized to Giap’s family and the Vietnamese people during his meeting with the Ministry of Information and Communication, where he asked the public to give him another chance to redeem himself.
Ministry official Le Quang Tu Do said that Hauer could be fined up to $2,200, according to state media. The agency’s final decision will be announced soon after further consideration.
Hauer addressed the incident in a video saying that he did not think the public would take his comments seriously, and explaining that he only made sarcastic jokes after another English teacher vowed to have the Vietnamese flag tattooed on his chest if the Vietnamese soccer team won the Asian Football U23 competition.
“Dan just wants everybody to understand that Dan has no intention whatsoever to vilify Vietnam or vilify Vo Nguyen Giap,” he spoke in Vietnamese. “Dan learned a lesson to be careful in using names and images of others in a joke, particularly famous Vietnamese historical figures.”
However, many netizens questioned his sincerity after some of his alleged posts in a private group called “Hanoi Massive Arseholes” were uncovered. Hauer and another individual named Marty Philip Hoare
continued to insult the Vietnamese in a couple of exchanges.
His wife Le Thi Hau said that since the incident, English learning centers have dropped contracts with her husband. She also felt unsafe after they started getting threats via calls and text messages.