ok. try and refute this one!
Claim: During a 1972 trip to North Vietnam, Jane Fonda propagandized on behalf of the North Vietnamese government, declared that American POWs were being treated humanely and condemned U.S. soldiers as "war criminals" and later denounced them as liars for claiming they had been tortured.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
When I was at Camp Pendleton receiving combat corpsman training, I noticed that the pickup truck belonging to the gunnery sergeant in charge of our training was adorned with bumper stickers containing extremely unflattering remarks about Jane Fonda. I also noticed a few referred to Ms. Fonda and Vietnam, but at the time I honestly had no idea why.
Being an E-5 and close to rank to our E-7 gunny, after a training rotation one afternoon I decided to ask him about those stickers, and what they had to do with Fonda.
He muttered a few obscenities and proceeded to tell me the story. Fonda, he said, became a traitor during the Vietnam War -- a war in which "gunny" had served two tours and for which he had received three Purple Hearts (which is why he enjoyed training Navy corpsmen to be Marine Corps combat corpsmen -- they'd saved his life a time or two).
The following excerpts are not "gunny's" words, but when received them in an e-mail recently, it reminded me of his story. And, as ABC's Barbara Walters prepares to honor the traitorous Jane Fonda during Walters' "100 years of great women" program soon, I thought the American people needed to hear this story again. You see, Fonda isn't just exercise videos and the third wheel in "Nine to Five" (the movie).
* * * * * * *
"There are few things I have strong visceral reactions to, but Jane Fonda's participation in what I believe to be blatant treason, is one of them. Part of my conviction comes from exposure to those who suffered her attentions.
"In 1978, the Commandant of the USAF Survival School, a colonel, was a former POW in Ho Lo Prison -- the Hanoi Hilton. Dragged from a stinking cesspit of a cell, cleaned, fed, and dressed in clean PJs, he was ordered to describe for a visiting American 'Peace Activist' the 'lenient and humane treatment' he'd received. He spat at Ms. Fonda, was clubbed, and dragged away. During the subsequent beating, he fell forward upon the camp Commandant's feet, accidentally pulling the man's shoe off -- which sent that officer berserk.
"In '78, the AF colonel still suffered from double vision -- permanently grounding him -- from the Vietnamese officer's frenzied application of a wooden baton.
"From 1983-85, Col. Larry Carrigan was 347FW/DO (F-4Es). He'd spent 6 [product] years in the Hilton -- the first three of which he was listed as MIA. His wife lived on faith that he was still alive. His group, too, got the cleaned/fed/clothed routine in preparation for a 'peace delegation' visit.
"They, however, had time and devised a plan to get word to the world that they still survived. Each man secreted a tiny piece of paper, with his Social Security number on it, in the palm of his hand. When paraded before Ms. Fonda and a cameraman, she walked the line, shaking each man's hand and asking little encouraging snippets like, 'Aren't you sorry you bombed babies?' and, 'Are you grateful for the humane treatment from your benevolent captors?'"
"Believing this HAD to be an act, they each palmed her their sliver of paper. She took them all without missing a beat. At the end of the line and once the camera stopped rolling, to the shocked disbelief of the POWs, she turned to the officer in charge ... and handed him the little pile of notes.
"Three men died from the subsequent beatings. Col. Carrigan was almost number four.
"For years after their release, a group of determined former POWs, including Col. Carrigan, tried to bring Ms. Fonda and others up on charges of treason. I don't know that they used it, but the charge of 'Negligent Homicide due to Depraved Indifference' would also seem appropriate. Her obvious 'granting of aid and comfort to the enemy' alone should've been sufficient for the treason count. However, to date, Jane Fonda has never been formally charged with anything and continues to enjoy the privileged life of the rich and famous.
"I, personally, think that this is shame on us, the American Citizenry.
"Part of our shortfall is ignorance: Most don't know such actions ever took place.
"The only addition I might add to these sentiments is to remember the satisfaction of relieving myself into the urinal at some air base or another where 'zaps' of Hanoi Jane's face had been applied."
And there is this account:
"I was a civilian economic development advisor in Vietnam, and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam in 1968, and held for over 5 years. I spent 27 months in solitary confinement, one year in a cage in Cambodia, and one year in a 'black box' in Hanoi. My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium in Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam, whom I later buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border.
"At one time, I was weighing approximately 90 lb. [my normal weight is 170 lb.). We were Jane Fonda's 'war criminals.'"
"When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her. I said yes, for I would like to tell her about the real treatment we POWs were receiving, which was far different from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by Jane Fonda, as 'humane and lenient.' Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees with outstretched arms with a piece of steel re-bar placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane every time my arms dipped.
"Jane Fonda had the audacity to say that the POWs were lying about our torture and treatment. Now ABC is allowing Barbara Walters to honor Jane Fonda in her feature "100 Years of Great Women." Shame on the Disney Company.
"I had the opportunity to meet with Jane Fonda for a couple of hours after I was released. I asked her if she would be willing to debate me on TV. She did not answer me, her husband (at the time), Tom Hayden, answered for her. She was mind controlled by her husband. This does not exemplify someone who should be honored by '100 Years of Great Women.'"
"After I was released, I was asked what I thought of Jane Fonda and the anti-war movement. I said that I held Joan Baez's husband in very high regard, for he thought the war was wrong, burned his draft card and went to prison in protest. If the other anti-war protesters took this same route, it would have brought our judicial system to a halt and ended the war much earlier, and there wouldn't be as many on that somber black granite wall called the Vietnam Memorial. This is democracy. This is the American way.
"Jane Fonda, on the other hand, chose to be a traitor, and went to Hanoi, wore their uniform, propagandized for the communists, and urged American soldiers to desert. As we were being tortured, and some of the POWs murdered, she called us liars. After her heroes -- the North Vietnamese communists -- took over South Vietnam, they systematically murdered 80,000 South Vietnamese political prisoners. May their souls rest on her head forever."
In the words of Paul Harvey, America, "now you know the rest of the story."
ABC and Babs Walters will undoubtedly include "Hanoi" Jane in their televised celebration because their black souls are too hardened and too imbued with an anti-American sentiment to do anything else. And ultimately, they will all answer for what they have done in their lives. In the meantime, I don't plan on watching anything that has Jane Fonda's face anywhere near it. I won't buy her videos; I won't rent or go see her movies. As far as I'm concerned, she's already dead to me.
Whether or not you agreed with the war in Vietnam, whether you're a Vietnam vet or a former member of the protest movement, or whether you're too old or too young to have been there, the behavior of Jane Fonda towards our own military men is reprehensible beyond belief. All I ask is that you think about these accounts the next time you see her. Let your conscience guide your actions from there.
Origins: The right to freedom of speech is one of our most cherished rights. It is also a double-edged sword: the same right that allows us to
criticize our government's policies without fear of reprisal also protects those who endorse and promote racism, anti-semitism, ethnic hatred and other socially divisive positions.
Rarely is this dichotomy so evident as when a democratic nation engages in war, and the protection of civil liberties clashes head-on with the exigencies of a war effort. Protesting a government's involvement in a war without also interfering in the prosecution of that war is a difficult (if not impossible) feat, a situation that has sometimes led the government to curtail the freedom of speech, such as when the U.S. Sedition Act (passed during World War I) made criminals of those who would "willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States." Under this law, peacefully urging citizens to resist the draft or simply drawing an editorial cartoon critical of the government became illegal. (The Sedition Act was later overturned.)
The most prominent example of a clash between private citizen protest and governmental military policy in recent history occurred in July 1972, when actress Jane Fonda arrived in Hanoi, North Vietnam, and began a two-week tour of the country conducted by uniformed military hosts. Aside from visiting villages, hospitals, schools, and factories, Fonda also posed for pictures in which she was shown applauding North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunners, was photographed peering into the sights of an NVA anti-aircraft artillery launcher, and made ten propagandistic Tokyo Rose-like radio broadcasts in which she denounced American political and military leaders as "war criminals." She also spoke with eight American POWs at a carefully arranged "press conference," POWS who had been tortured by their North Vietnamese captors to force them to meet with Fonda, deny they had been tortured, and decry the American war effort. Fonda apparently didn't notice (or care) that the POWs were delivering their lines under duress or find it unusual the she was not allowed to visit the prisoner-of-war camp (commonly known as the "Hanoi Hilton") itself. She merely went home and told the world that "[the POWs] assured me they were in good health. When I asked them if they were brainwashed, they all laughed. Without exception, they expressed shame at what they had done." She did, however, charge that North Vietnamese POWs were systematically tortured in American prison-of-war camps.
To add insult to injury, when American POWs finally began to return home (some of them having been held captive for up to nine years) and describe the tortures they had endured at the hands of the North Vietnamese, Jane Fonda quickly told the country that they should "not hail the POWs as heroes, because they are hypocrites and liars." Fonda said the idea that the POWs she had met in Vietnam had been tortured was "laughable," claiming: "These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed." The POWs who said they had been tortured were "exaggerating, probably for their own self-interest," she asserted. She told audiences that "Never in the history of the United States have POWs come home looking like football players. These football players are no more heroes than Custer was. They're military careerists and professional killers" who are "trying to make themselves look self-righteous, but they are war criminals according to law."
Were Jane Fonda's actions treason, or were they the exercise of a private citizen's right to freedom of speech? At the time, the legal aspects of this question were moot: President Nixon was engaged in trying to wind down American involvement in Vietnam and had to face another election in a few months, so politically he had far more to lose than to gain by making a martyr out of a prominent anti-war activist. (No requirement in either the Constitution or federal law states that the U.S. must be engaged in a declared war -- or any war at all -- before charges of treason can be brought against an individual.)
On the one hand, Jane Fonda provided no tangible military assistance to the North Vietnamese: she divulged no military secrets, she gave them no money or material, and she did not interfere with the operations of the American forces. Her actions, offensive as they were to many, were primarily of propaganda value only. On the other hand, Iva Ikuko Toguri (also known as "Tokyo Rose") was convicted of treason for making propaganda broadcasts on behalf of the Japanese during World War II (although she claimed her betrayal was forced and was eventually pardoned many years later by President Gerald Ford), and Fonda's efforts could fall under the definition of "giving aid and comfort to the enemy." It is also undeniable that some American soldiers came to harm as a direct result of Fonda's actions, an outcome she should reasonably have anticipated.
The most serious accusations in the piece quoted above -- that Fonda turned over slips of paper furtively given her by American POWS to the North Vietnamese and that several POWs were beaten to death as a result -- are proveably untrue. Those named in the inflammatory e-mail categorically deny the events they supposedly were part of.
"It's a figment of somebody's imagination," says Ret. Col. Larry Carrigan, one of the servicemen mentioned in the 'slips of paper' incident. Carrigan was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and did spend time in a POW camp. He has no idea why the story was attributed to him. "I never met Jane Fonda."
The tale about a defiant serviceman who spit at Jane Fonda and is severely beaten as a result is often attributed to Air Force pilot Jerry Driscoll. He has repeatedly stated on the record that it did not originate with him.
The story about a POW forced to kneel on rocky ground while holding a piece of steel rebar in his outstretched arms is true, though. That account comes from Michael Benge, a civilian advisor captured by the Viet Cong in 1968 and held as a POW for 5 years. His original statement, titled "Shame on Jane," was published in April by the Advocacy and Intelligence Network for POWs and MIAs.
The unknown author of the "Hanoi Jane" e-mail appears to have picked up Benge's story on-line and combined it with fabricated tales to create the forwarded text. Some versions now circulate with Benge's name listed; others quote his statement anonymously.
In fact, Fonda carried home letters from many American POWs to their families upon her return from North Vietnam, and rumors that a POW was beaten to death when he refused to meet with her were nothing more than rumors. Still, legally treasonous or not, Jane Fonda's actions merit the contempt felt towards her, and her inclusion in ABC's 30 April 1999 "A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women" rightly angered many who failed to see what was so "great" about this woman. She didn't go to North Vietnam to try to bring about peace or to reconcile the two warring sides or to stop American boys from being killed; she went there as an active show of support for the North Vietnamese cause. She lauded the North Vietnamese military and citizens while she denounced American soldiers as "war criminals" and urged them to stop fighting, she lobbied to cut off all American economic aid to the South Vietnamese government even after the Paris Peace Accords ended U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, and she publicly thanked the Soviets for providing assistance to the North Vietnamese. And she did all this not as a reckless youth who rashly spouted ill-considered opinions now best forgotten, but as a 34-year-old adult who should be expected to bear full responsibility for her actions.
In 1988, sixteen years after denouncing American soldiers as war criminals and tortured POWs as possessed of overactive imaginations, Fonda met with Vietnam veterans to apologize for her actions. It's interesting to note that this nationally-televised apology (during which she attempted to minimize her actions by characterizing them as "thoughtless and careless") came at a time when New England vets were successfully disrupting a film project she was working on. It's also interesting that not only was this apology delivered sixteen years after the fact, but it has not been offered again since. More than a few have read a huge dollop of self-interest into Fonda's 1988 apology. (Finally, in an interview in 2000, almost thirty years after the fact, Fonda admitted: "I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft carrier, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.")
Whether the war was right or wrong, those who risked (and gave) their lives fighting it deserve respect, and for Fonda to brand men who were held captive and tortured as "liars" and "hypocrites" (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) in order to defend her political views was and is unpardonable.
Last updated: 21 June 2000
The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/military/fonda.htm
Click here to e-mail this page to a friend
Urban Legends Reference Pages Â© 1995-2003
by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson
This material may not be reproduced without permission
Abrams, Garry. "Fonda Meets with Vets, Wins a Few Hearts."
Los Angeles Times. 20 June 1988 (p. E1).
Andersen, Christopher. Citizen Jane: The Turbulent Life of Jane Fonda.
New York: Henry Holt, 1990. ISBN 0-8050-0959-0.
Elvin, John. "The Vietnam War is Over, But 'Hanoi Jane' Lives On."
Insight on the News. 25 November 1996 (p. 20).
Jacoby, Jeff. "Dubious Honor for Hanoi Jane."
The [Montreal] Gazette. 18 June 1999 (p. B3).
Labbe, J.R. "Dubious Honor for Hanoi Jane."
Omaha World-Herald. 11 May 1999 (p. 19).
London, Herbert. "ABA Invite to Fonda an Outrage."
The Times-Picayune. 14 August 1999 (p. B7).
Zekas, Rita. "He's Not Fonda Jane."
The Toronto Star. 11 August 1990 (p. M20).
Associated Press. "Viet Nam Vets Meet with Jane Fonda."
The Toronto Star. 20 June 1988 (p. C4).
Associated Press. "Jane Fonda Regrets N. Vietnam Photo