Americans are in a hurry to be done with the past and go on to tomorrow. As a clear example of that, pick up the July-August edition of "O: The Oprah Magazine."
That magazine includes an interview with Jane Fonda with an introduction by Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Winfrey writes that Jane Fonda is "the same Jane who protested the Vietnam War and made some Americans so angry that they labeled her a communist and slapped her with the nickname of Hanoi Jane." Either Ms. Winfrey doesn't remember or didn't know that the reason "some Americans" thought she was a communist came from direct statements of Ms. Fonda.
On Nov. 21, 1970 she told a University of Michigan audience of some 2,000 students, "If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist." At Duke University in North Carolina she repeated what she had said in Michigan, adding "I, a socialist, think that we should strive toward a socialist society, all the way to communism."
She didn't merely protest the Vietnam War, as Oprah Winfrey wrote. Jane Fonda took the side of the North Vietnamese. In that recently published interview Jane Fonda states, "I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an antiaircraft carrier, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. That had nothing to do with the context that photograph was taken in. But it hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless. I wasn't thinking. I was just so bowled over by the whole experience that I didn't realize what it would look like."
It appears to me as though Jane Fonda is sorry about the photo, but she is not apologizing for her actions that led to the photo since "the context" of which she speaks is by far worse than the photograph. That photo was taken when she went to North Vietnam in July of 1972 where she not only posed for a photo, but also recorded propaganda broadcasts for the North Vietnamese. Among her statements are these precise quotes:
"I'm very honored to be a guest in your country, and I loudly condemn the crimes that have been committed by the U.S. Government in the name of the American people against your country. A growing number of people in the United States not only demand an end to the war, an end to the bombing, a withdrawal of all U.S. troops, and an end to the support of the Thieu clique, but we identify with the struggle of your people. We have understood that we have a common enemy: U.S. imperialism."
And: "I want to publicly accuse Nixon of being a new-type Hitler whose crimes are being unveiled. I want to publicly charge that while waging the war of aggression in Vietnam he has betrayed everything the American people have at heart. The tragedy is for the United States and not for the Vietnamese people, because the Vietnamese people will soon regain their independence and freedom …"
And: "To the U.S. servicemen who are stationed on the aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin, those of you who load the bombs on the planes should know that those weapons are illegal. And the use of those bombs or condoning the use of those bombs, makes one a war criminal."
And: "I'm not a pacifist. I understand why the Vietnamese are fighting … against a white man's racist aggression. We know what U.S. imperialism has done to our country so we know what lies in store for any third world country that could have the misfortune of falling into the hands of a country such as the United States and becoming a colony … You know that when Nixon says the war is winding down, that he's lying."
Within six months our military involvement was over.
I was working for President Nixon at the White House when our men returned from being prisoners of war and I talked with many of them. For refusing to meet with her a naval commander was beaten daily while in a three-foot by five-foot windowless cell, held there for four months. A lieutenant commander was hung by his broken arm attached to a rope, then dropped by the end of the rope time after time as the table he stood on was kicked out from under him. A captain was hung under his elbows from rounded hooks on his cell wall and beaten into unconsciousness with bamboo sticks. Here are a few of the direct quotes that I saved from those days:
Lt. Cmdr. John McCain said, "These people, Ramsey Clark, Tom Hayden, and Jane Fonda, were on the side of the North Vietnamese. I think she only saw eight selected prisoners. I was beaten unmercifully for refusing to meet with the visitors."
Maj. Harold Kushner said, "I think the purposes of Fonda and Clark were to hurt the United States, to radicalize our young people, and to undermine our authority."
Col. Alan Brunstrom said, "We felt that any Westerners who showed up in Hanoi were on the other side. They gave aid and comfort to the enemy, and as far as I'm concerned, they were traitors."