There is nothing like the smell of napalm in the morning to wake up the hiss of an ice cold beer.
At least that’s what the Rickshaw Bar owners seemed to think when they opened a Vietnam-themed watering hole in Melbourne, Australia, in an area of the city known as “Little Saigon.”
Now community members are calling the establishment for its “hurtful and insensitive” decorative motif, which includes pint glasses filled with bullets, used dog tags, materials from discarded military aircraft and references to the chemical weapon Agent Orange, which the United States Notoriously employed to remove forest cover and crops for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops during the 20-year war.
Rickshaw Bar patrons are called in to “settle into a booth or bunker at the bar.”
“There is no smoke without fire,” read another sign.
Asian-Australian media site Liminal magazine shared a scathing critique of the concept on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Imagine a war in which more than a million people died, and then imagine deciding to create an aesthetic out of it, selling cocktails full of shell casings, with an Agent Orange theme.” wrote in a tweet which was supported by nearly 1,500 on Twitter.
Beginning in 1954, the Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, saw the loss of millions of lives, including 58,000 American soldiers, some 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers, around 1.1 million Vietnam fighters. North and Viet Cong and a staggering 2 million civilians who were caught in the crossfire.
“In a year in which anti-Asian racism has increased dramatically, this bar has opened * in Richmond *, a suburb with a strong Vietnamese population, including people who would have * literally fled this war *. This is horrible, ”Liminal continued in his post.
According to a response to the tweet, Melbourne-based restaurants did not immediately determine why the bar could be considered problematic.
“What’s also concerning is that none of the @concreteplay and @UrbanListMELB editors saw a problem. @UrbanListMELB even wrote: ‘no objections from us.’ they pointed, highlighting stories that show the new establishment.
Following the backlash on social media, Rickshaw Bar has removed the offending images and ads from its feeds.
“We have removed our content and apologize to anyone who has been offended or found the content inappropriate,” the bar wrote on Instagram on Wednesday. “We have revised our tone and we are working hard to correct it. Sorry for the anguish caused, it was never our intention. “
Before removing the materials on Instagram, his page was inundated with criticism, accusing the bar of “trivializing other people’s trauma,” according to The Independent, which obtained screenshots of the comments before the removal.
“My family still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and you thought it was a good idea to capitalize on their pain,” a distraught attendee told the bar.
Despite the war finally ending in 1975, the Vietnamese continue to live with the mortal remains of it, including the unexploded landmines that still injure and kill innocent people today. Traces of Agent Orange, a mix of herbicides linked to life-threatening diseases like cancer, leukemia and Parkinson’s, also have lingering effects on the nation’s population and the environment.
The controversy comes at the end of a year in which prejudices against Asian populations, linked to the Chinese origin of COVID-19, were renewed. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, anti-Asian attacks have increased globally, with a 150% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans between 2019 and 2020 alone, according to a new analysis released by the Center. for the Study of Hate and Extremism. , a nonpartisan policy and research group.