Alfred McCoy: Tried to warn School Board that Laotian was linked to war crimes

Historians in the News

As the Madison School Board was meeting Monday night to confirm its decision to name a new elementary school for Gen. Vang Pao, reports were coming in that the Hmong general had been indicted and arrested by federal authorities as the alleged mastermind of a plot to violently overthrow the government of Laos.

The irony was not lost on Alfred McCoy, the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. McCoy had been fiercely criticized by supporters of the school-naming proposal, including members of the School Board, for loudly challenging the notion that Vang Pao should be honored.
"When I spoke to the Madison School Board in May, I warned that there were more and more revelations coming out with regard to Vang Pao," McCoy said today.

The professor's historical research on Southeast Asia had been highly critical of the general who worked with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency during the Vietnam War era.

"I stood before the people of this city to warn that an embarrassment such as this would occur if Madison went ahead with its plans to name a school after a man who, according sustained coverage in responsible regional and national newspapers, was guilty of summary executions of enemy captives, fraudulent collection of funds from Hmong-Americans to support his resistance' to the Lao government, forced conscription of child soldiers and drug trafficking," McCoy said.
McCoy's words do, indeed, seem prophetic now that Vang Pao has been linked to what Bob Twiss, an assistant U.S. attorney in California, refers to as a "conspiracy to murder thousands and thousands of people at one time."...
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