It is a neologism, a made-up word or phrase, one I just made up yesterday.
I had noticed that this unjustly invisible Vietnamese famine, one that killed 2 million people just as the western world was celebrating VE Day, was at its worst during the Tet Season , the Vietnamese New Year and the start of their Spring.
TET/FAMINE : Death, at a time of hope and renewal.
It seems so doubly ironic, n'est ce pas ?
At least, I thought so.
Up to that moment ,I had only known the word Tet as part of the phrase ,THE TET OFFENSIVE OF 1968 , a neologism that most all of us have heard of ----- I had forgotten it actually had a separate meaning apart from this phrase.
My mental ear caught the similarity between o ----- ffensive
and famine and the neologism was done.
I hope now that when your ear and eye catches the phrase "THE TET FAMINE OF 1945", it clashes and jars them.
So much so that you end up saying to yourself - "I know that phrase, but it's not exactly that - its offensive isn't it - not famine , and surely its 1968 , not 1945?"
Why ? Why go all this effort to coin a neologism?
It comes out of the main reason I write this blog: I am interested (and concerned) about the consequences for our planet when knowledge becomes distorted when moving from being private to being public to being popular.
Knowledge of the Vietnamese Famine of 1945 is certainly not private, rather it is public - it is has been researched and reviewed in many peer-reviewed articles.
Its bare facts are thus on the public record - much disputed around the edges 'facts' - but public for any and all to see - if they even know those articles exist.
They mostly don't - don't know either that the famine happened or that there is a wealth of information on it.
I would like to see that this famine moves from being public but effectively invisible, to being Popularly known and lamented - and above all, learned from.
Famine and famine deaths are happening know and they are only going to explode in importance as the titanic Global Warming meets the iceberg of soaring human populations and human greeds.
The Vietnamese famine was but yet another example where humanity had enough food power to feed a group of people, at least enough to keep all alive until better times returned, but lacked enough moral power to see the job done right.
If on this matter of the TET FAMINE OF 1945 I can resume my familiar role of being a gadfly, ready to prod the body politic with a little nip, I will be pleased.
I agree with Professor Geoffrey Gunn of Nagaski University that this famine needs to be fully aired in a process of truth and reconciliation .
Vietnam will never be at ease with Japan, France and America until all three have fully acknowledged their parts in causing this famine and making it worse.
A useful byproduct of this four nation process would be its impact on decision makers the world over as they ponder how they would handle a big famine, say in Chad, on their watch.
Because, believe me, it is only a matter of "when" not "if ".....