What Did Jane Fonda Really Do Over in Hanoi?





Originally published 12-11-04

Mr. Bates was an HNN intern.

Jane Fonda was more than just an actress born to a wealthy and prominent Hollywood family. She was a symbol of a divided nation. Many Americans traveled to Vietnam on “peace delegations” to end the war, yet it was Jane Fonda who was captured as a timeless image when she was photographed looking through a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun. She so symbolized the divided nation, hawks arrayed against her and doves siding with her, that she became a personal target, most recently with allegations about personal involvement in the mistreatment of POW’s.[1] According to a recent email that circulated to various Vietnam veterans, Fonda reportedly beat one POW, and betrayed the confidence of another, resulting in his death. These horrendous claims went around the nation on the Internet, resulting in a great deal of anger and consternation among veterans.

The charges against Fonda went beyond the notion that she was an apologist for the mistreatment of American prisoners of war. Fonda was accused of engaging in war crimes on behalf of the North Vietnamese. Her attackers renewed an old strike against the image of an actress who grew up as the daughter of the All-American Henry Fonda, yet became synonymous with the various rebellions of the Sixties. Her rebellion against the foreign policies of the United States suggested to many outraged Americans that treason might have an All-American face, a familiar accent, and be closer to home than the Other that had previously been assumed to embody the enemy. It was to these traditional Americans, alienated by the Sixties, that the email was targeted, playing on their hopes that finally, at long last, Jane Fonda would have to answer for her choices.

Jane Fonda tested the limits of patriotic dissent. She did not merely criticize the authoritarian government of South Vietnam, or the dubious motives of powerful corporations that make up the American military-industrial complex. She sided with the Viet Cong as revolutionary “liberators.” And she travelled to Hanoi at a time when North Vietnamese soldiers were killing Americans. A photograph caught her looking through the scope of an anti-aircraft gun, surrounded by revolutionaries.[2] While criticizing America, she made laudatory comments about the Soviet Union.[3] And she referred to the POW's as hypocrites and liars.[4]

However, the allegation that she abused American POW’s is not true. It has simply been repeated over and over again, without proof, and duplicated on a number of websites. Respected online resources such as “Snopes”, “Truth Miners,” and “Urban Legends” have all cited key persons in the infamous email as having refuted its claims.[5] One man who was supposed to have encountered Jane Fonda, one Colonel Larry Carrigan, has denied any claim that he ever met her. According to the email she visited Hanoi in 1968. Her visit actually took place in 1972. Chris Appy, a historian who has written about Vietnam, told HNN he once asked POW Porter Halyburton about the claims made against Fonda. Halyburton told him that the POW's had tried to debunk them even though they regarded Fonda as an unsympathetic figure.

Fonda has refused to tell her side of the story to historians investigating her role, purportedly because she was saving her story for her own memoirs, which are expected to be published soon.

[1] Cited on November 24, 2004. The actual allegation took the form of an email citing the alleged experiences of a number of Viet Nam War veterans at the hands of Jane Fonda. One presumably claimed to have been struck by her, while another claimed to have had his confidence betrayed to his Communist captors.

[2] Peter Collier, The Fondas; A Hollywood Dynasty. ( New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 1991) Pages 225-229.

[3] She praised the USSR for their support of the Viet Cong. She visited Russia in the early Sixties, and was personally impressed by the deference she received. Christopher Andersen, Citizen Jane (New York: Henry Holt and Company. 1990) Pages 121-123.

[4]Andersen, 266-267.

[5]http://www.snopes.com/military/fonda.asp; http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/weekly/aa110399b.htm; http://www.truthminers.com/truth/hanoi_jane.htm; cited on November 24, 2004.


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steve M riley - 5/23/2005

As Jane Fonda promotes her new film, "Monster-in-Law", its up to all of us to let our children know about the specific activities she undertook during the Vietnam War. It may be an old story, but being that she never stood trial for her actions still make her case an open book.

One of the definitions of treason is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Was Jane Fonda's sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun that was used to shoot at and kill Americans, and launching an anti-American PR campaign with the North Vietnamese giving aid and comfort? If it wasn't I must be missing something.

There is certainly no doubt that the country was basically split down the middle on the idea of our military presence in SE Asia, and as Americans we were all free to protest the war to our hearts' content. But literally working hand-in-hand with the enemy to promote their cause to a worldwide audience was not protected by the First Amendment then just as it is not protected now. It was treason, nothing more and nothing less.

Since the dawn of the Internet and a spate of anti-Fonda websites, there have been many fabrications and exaggerations regarding her actions, but her photo ops and press conferences to "give aid and comfort to the enemy" are not and never were in question. So I ask, should she have been put on trial for treason? I think so, and I would hope that all Americans will at least speak their minds at the movie box office and refuse to further enrich one of the greatest American traitors.


Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

What most Viet-Nam veterans think about Jane Fonda is expressed in a number of products sold by D & G Enterprises,

www.DanandGEnterprises.com

Among the products sold expressing veterans' disdain for Fonda are a variety of bumper stickers, envelope stickers, sew-on patches, but evidently D&G no longer carries my favorite Fonda item, a urinal pad depicting Jane Fonda's photograph.

Us veterans will never forget or forgive her posing on a North Viet anti-aircraft gun, regardless whatever else she may or may not have done.


Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005

Richard Morgan,

Even so, I'm going to keep an eye open to purchase one of the urinal mats with her photograph depicted upon it.

Dave
Troop D, 1st squadron, 4th Cavalry, RVN, 1966-7
Troop B, 2nd squadron, 17th Cavalry, RVN, 1969-70

And definitely not fonda Fonda.


Charles Edward Heisler - 12/18/2004

How unfair! As I tell my students when we discuss the proper use of testimony, we probably ought not to listen to Jane Fonda on things dealing with foreign affairs but if our goal is to rid our aging bodies from the ravages of cellulite then Fonda can be considered an authority!
Which goes to reinforce the old adage that no one is truly a waste of skin.


Vernon Clayson - 12/17/2004

Hardly misdirected anger, Jane Fonda really was merely a silly and shallow child of privilege who allowed herself to be used for propaganda. She was young and famous at the time, maybe the Iraqi insurgents could get some of the present crop of empty headed celebrities, Britney Spears perhaps, to pose next to those Muslim mopes in robes and head towels while they aim their weapons. No one with half a brain took Jane Fonda seriously then, or for that matter, now. Just another old women of no consequence, don't give her any credit for ending the war, people like John Kerry and Max Cleland don't even think it's over yet.


Nathaniel Brian Bates - 12/16/2004

I suppose that since I am never really planned to be an Intern next semester (not in a full time sense, save as a researcher), and since my term is essentially over, I can join the conversation as Joe Public.

The "New World Order" of the capitalists and the communists is not "Jewish", sir. It is nothing more and nothing less than the full culmination of Greco-Roman Humanism as it has defined itself throughout the thousands of years. When Rockefeller said what he said about the Cultural Revolution (in an Op Ed that I read long ago, attesting to its existence), he was addressing the Communist system as a Fascist system with potential for realizing corporate/banker control much more than as a "Marxist" system. His alliance with the Reds made sense, since both upheld elite control of the world. Even Trotsky, whose philosophy I do not advocate, could see this relationship between the capitalists and the communists clearly (hypocritically denouncing it, since he went along with it).

Dr. Rockefeller certainly did not defend Communism as a "Jewish" system, since it is the Hebrew Bible that was the basis of our Common Law, and hence much of our Constitutional Order. Sadly, the Founders also mixed a great deal of Greco-Roman Humanism with this heritage, allowing room for much of what you decry. Due to the pressure of so-called "rationalists", Article VI, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution forbids Congress from excluding Communists, Anti-Semites, or Globalists from its membership, allowing the control that you decry.

Do any right-wingers ever decry the fact that Bush and the conservatives overthrew Aristide because he was a socialists----then invited the Chinese Communists in to our hemisphere? I think that there is a lot of selectivity going on. Aristide was an ENEMY of Communism, hence his downfall. I would like to hear more about this.

Bates (private citizen)


Nathaniel Brian Bates - 12/16/2004

I suppose that since I am never really planned to be an Intern next semester (not in a full time sense, save as a researcher), and since my term is essentially over, I can join the conversation as Joe Public.

The "New World Order" of the capitalists and the communists is not "Jewish", sir. It is nothing more and nothing less than the full culmination of Greco-Roman Humanism as it has defined itself throughout the thousands of years. When Rockefeller said what he said about the Cultural Revolution (in an Op Ed that I read long ago, attesting to its existence), he was addressing the Communist system as a Fascist system with potential for realizing corporate/banker control much more than as a "Marxist" system. His alliance with the Reds made sense, since both upheld elite control of the world. Even Trotsky, whose philosophy I do not advocate, could see this relationship between the capitalists and the communists clearly (hypocritically denouncing it, since he went along with it).

Dr. Rockefeller certainly did not defend Communism as a "Jewish" system, since it is the Hebrew Bible that was the basis of our Common Law, and hence much of our Constitutional Order. Sadly, the Founders also mixed a great deal of Greco-Roman Humanism with this heritage, allowing room for much of what you decry. Due to the pressure of so-called "rationalists", Article VI, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution forbids Congress from excluding Communists, Anti-Semites, or Globalists from its membership, allowing the control that you decry.

Do any right-wingers ever decry the fact that Bush and the conservatives overthrew Aristide because he was a socialists----then invited the Chinese Communists in to our hemisphere? I think that there is a lot of selectivity going on. Aristide was an ENEMY of Communism, hence his downfall. I would like to hear more about this.

Bates (private citizen)


Rowan Arthur Berkeley - 12/16/2004

What do all you old sober sides make of this thesis? It sounds loony until you actually think about it - and the general thesis of "no-win wars" (i.e. wars the intention of which is not to win but to bleed) is quite plausible.

"STRATAGEMS of DEFEAT AND NO-WIN WARS

"CHINA: Following WWII, Mao Tse-Tung, financed by the international banks, led his Chinese communists in an armed conflict against nationalist China under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, America's ally against Japan. Truman warned Chiang to integrate communists into China's nationalist government or American aid would be withdrawn. Chiang refused to be extorted, citing his revulsion of the international banking cartel. Deprived of American assistance, his army bereft of supplies, Chiang Kai-Shek retreated to the island sanctuary of Formosa and dug in. Thus, the U.S.A. deliberately betrayed its former ally Chiang Kai-Shek and gave mainland China to communism. Subsequently communist China was awarded a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, its most powerful chair. Mao Tse-Tung, of "Little Red Book" fame, and darling of the New York-Hollywood "elite", then proceeded to murder 65 million of his countrymen in what David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski call "a glorious revolution."

"KOREA: Shortly thereafter Truman, with Congress averting its eyes, committed U.S. troops to Korea. The alleged mission was to prevent communism from spreading to South Korea, a peninsula pointed at now disarmed Japan. This "police action" quickly developed into a full-blown but undeclared war. The great General Douglas MacArthur drove the North Koreans, led by Red Chinese
officers, toward the Chinese border amid cries of protest from Wall Street which feared war with "our trading partner" Red China. Liberals in America's streets "protested" our victories and exulted in our defeats - thus, in patriots' eyes, giving the war a raison d'etre. MacArthur complained that his conduct of the war was compromised by spies within the U.S. government: "The enemy receives my (Pentagon) directives before I do". MacArthur asked Truman to permit Chiang Kai-Shek's troops to fight with Americans against the Red Chinese. Truman refused. MacArthur was denied his request to attack enemy forces massing across the Yalu border in preparation for attack. He was denied his request to gather intelligence by aerial reconnaissance over China. MacArthur soon realized he was expected to win battles but lose the war. Again and again against incredible odds, and at great cost in American casualties, U.S. forces stopped the enemy; but were prevented by President Truman from administering the coup de grace. MacArthur publicly insisted upon victory, infuriating the international banks. Whereupon Truman dismissed MacArthur for insubordination. His replacement, General Ridgway, said after the war: "The reason we didn't win is because I was under orders not to win". Why has no one been hanged for high treason? Only the bankers know. All of the facts, in retrospect, lead to the conclusion that the U.S. government's purpose in dragging America into Korea was not to defeat communism but to kill as many Americans as possible in an ignoble defeat, get rid of the hero MacArthur as a possible presidential nominee, and lure a disillusioned America into acceptance of one world government.

"VIET NAM: A repeat scenario was played 10 years later under another banker-picked Democratic administration. President Lyndon Johnson, Democrat, in a special address to the American public, reported an attack upon a U.S. naval vessel in the Tonkin Gulf by a North Vietnamese torpedo boat. Johnson solemnly announced that "Communist aggression must be stopped as a threat to American security!" (Later, after 58,152 American dead were just names on a wall, declassified US Navy logs revealed there had been no torpedo attack!). Johnson then ordered 165,000 U.S. forces under General Westmoreland to support a handful of American "advisors" previously ordered there by former President John F. Kennedy, Democrat. The "advisors" assisted inept South Vietnamese in their ongoing war against the North Vietnamese, who also happened to be communists. Once U.S. forces were committed in large numbers the U.S. federal government, as in Korea, prohibited them from attacking specified enemy sanctuaries (staging areas) into which the communists retreated, regrouped, re-armed and launched renewed attacks. War materiel, shipped via the
"Hanoi Run" from USSR to Viet Nam, was produced in Russian plants that had been built by American companies and financed by the Federal Reserve System. As in Korea, communist spies within the U.S. government released vital information to the enemy. Again the secret policy of the financiers was: "containment of communism" while disallowing an American victory. Denying a final victory over a dedicated and skilled marxist enemy was a recipe for the murder of our men. It meant re-taking the same bloody ground over and over again. Yet, despite treason in high places American troops - outnumbered ten-to-one - were winning the war. Which is precisely why U.S. liberals so vehemently protested U.S. involvement - and that is the only reason - we were destroying their comrades... the communists. Meanwhile the mass media suddenly reversed its pro-war policy: denying our beleaguered troops moral support from home. The media heaped calumny on U.S. military leadership; presented biased, horrifying scenes depicting "the wanton killing of Vietnamese civilians", and the "degeneracy" of our fighting men and women. Finally the brainwashed, confused, exhausted American public forced our government to surrender. We now see a pattern of sedition/treason. The U.S. government secretly abets communism around the globe, then sends in the American military to "contain the communist menace". Thus, Europe, Russia, China, Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, the Middle East were turned into killing grounds, and their existing governments destroyed. The financial elite then move into the vacuum, establish central banks, and issue debt-credit to the devastated populations. There is no doubt these treasonous no-win US wars were meant to disillusion the American nation into accepting loss of sovereignty and one world government."

You will not be surprised to hear that I have bowdlerised the above considerably, removing racial designators and course expressions of various sorts. I don't want people putting words into my mouth, saying "you're going to tell us all these bankers and financiers are Jewish", for instance. I'm not going to tell you anything of the sort. I am going to let the extract stand as it is, containing just enough truth to be uncomfortable, I think. Especially considering that the Republican Party has obviously now been captured by the same forces (the 'Illuminati', hehehe)


Charles Edward Heisler - 12/16/2004

Good question here Richard: "My question is, when will people like Fonda and Kerry (unlike Joan Baez) take responsibility for what they have wrought -- the totalitarian system that gave us re-education camps and the boat people?"

The answer, of course, is that they won't. They have never acknowledged their role in the killing fields of Cambodia and fail to discuss the fact that Vietnam, one of about four communist countries left on the face of this earth, is currently at the bottom rung of third world nations in terms of per capita income. No, after the Left's "victory" in the United State's withdrawal from Southeast Asia, the matter of consequences was conveniently dropped from the discussion.
However, you may note that the Left still presumes to lecture the rest of us often concerning foreign policy on a regular basis.

:


Nathaniel Brian Bates - 12/16/2004

Yes, that one story was true. However, since the majority of the stories cited in the e-mail have no proof behind them, I had to either give the e-mail "thumbs down" or "thumbs up" on the basis of the overall validity.

Even so, the main focus of my essay was whether Jane Fonda participated in war crimes, not whether she was morally culpable for her part as an apologist for the mistreatment of POW's (she was). The one story that was true never touched the question of whether or not she directly participated in war crimes. The other stories allege a far more direct participation in war crimes on the part of Fonda. If even one of them were true, it would change the entire focus of my article.

In no sense am I a Fonda apologist. Quite the contrary. Communism is an atheistic system, and even advocating it is a serious offense in my eyes (with or without war crimes participation). However, the fact that she advocated Communism does not give anyone license to make up stories or slander. The Bushes have a long-standing relationship with Red China, one that has hardmed our national security, yet few attack them as vociferously as Fonda was attacked. I think that this is rather odd.

If you must know, my original draft did make reference to the one true story that you mentioned. However, it was a bit too long, and Dr. Shenkman needed it shortened in the interest of time. I got the main point across. I stand by the article as it was written.

I make it a habit not to intervene as an intern. That is not my place. However, when my credibility is challenged, I will respond. I have had my say. Enjoy the rest of the conversation.

Bates


William A. Henslee - 12/15/2004

Politicians make mistakes that affect the body politic and statesmen sometimes direct a foreign policy that disregards individuals in the national interest.

Ms. Fonda's actions, however, directly affected helpless individual captives and their families. By denying their mistreatment or not investigating their treatment,in an effort to sway public opinion to her own perceived vision of the national interest, she did harm to her countrymen in captivity.

And therein lies the difference.


William A. Henslee - 12/15/2004

There's nothing like a historian 'cherry-picking' his citations or only presenting a partial 'truth' from his source. From Urban Legends:

"There's no disputing that Jane Fonda toured North Vietnam, propagandized on behalf of the communists, and participated in an orchestrated "press conference" with American POWs in 1972. There's no denying that she defamed POWs by whitewashing the Viet Cong's treatment of them and later calling them liars when they spoke out."
AND
"Claim: POWs were beaten for refusing to cooperate or meet with Fonda during her visit.
Status: TRUE"

Urban Legends story then identifies the POW and gives some quotes about his treatment by the NVA. "Because of this," the narrative continues, "I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees with outstretched arms with a piece of steel placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane every time my arms dipped."

Those words were written by Michael Benge, a civilian advisor captured by the Viet Cong in 1968 and held as a POW for 5 years. When I contacted him, Benge confirmed that the story was indeed his own, and true."

Considering the admonition about Caesar's wife, perhaps HNN should remove you as an intern.



Richard Henry Morgan - 12/15/2004

That begs the question, responsible for what? LBJ and Congress share responsibility for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, with its dubious basis, and everything that followed. Nixon has responsibility for everything he did or didn't do on his watch. Fonda consorted with the enemy and made propaganda broadcasts on their behalf. She called the POW's liars. I think you'll find that those are things on a more personal level than stupdities and worse committed by LBJ, Congress, and Nixon. An analogy: I'm more upset by somebody coming into my house and stealing from me than I am by a tax increase, or even by government malfeasance. My question is, when will people like Fonda and Kerry (unlike Joan Baez) take responsibility for what they have wrought -- the totalitarian system that gave us re-education camps and the boat people?


Rick Perlstein - 12/15/2004

This thread gives me a great chance to ask veterans a question that has always bothered me. Why are people more angry at Jane Fonda that they are against, say, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, the people really responsible?


Christy Jo Snider - 12/15/2004

I believe Jane Fonda has talked to at least two historians. I went to a session at the 2003 Peace History Society Conference in Mt. Pleasant Michigan, where Mary Hersberger (Capital University) and Jerry Kembcke (Holy Cross College) both gave papers on Fonda. Each of them suggested that they had done at least one interview with Fonda, and individually they were looking into the historical accuracy behind the claims made about Fonda and why she became such a lighting rod for controversy.


Richard Henry Morgan - 12/13/2004

Ms. Fonda only met with those POW's who had sold out their fellow POW's, who willingly (without torture) made propaganda statements for their captors, and who enjoyed privileges of medical care, food, and even night-time excursions into Hanoi to watch movies in return. On the basis of those meetings alone, she proclaimed that American POW's weren't being mistreated, and that any who said they were mistreated werte either liars, or were simply experiencing punishment for their racist treatment and attitude towards their Vietnamese captors.

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