The "Apology" of Jane Fonda

After Jane Fonda called Yorktown sailors
and other US Navy sailors
"war criminals"

By Bruce Herschensohn

This article appeared in the July 7, 2000 edition of The Washington Times


Americans are in a hurry to be done with the past and go on to tomorrow. It's why we  read the Sunday newspapers on Saturday. It would be all right if we weren't in a hurry to forget the past, but we do forget the past. 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 November 21, 1970 she told a University of Michigan audience of some two thousand 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 [gun] 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."

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...

"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...

"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."

"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:

photo: mccainLieutenant Commander POW (and later Presidential Candidate and US Senator) 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."

Major 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."

Colonel 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."

After the U.S. prisoners of war returned and had landed at Clark Field in the Philippines in 1973, Jane Fonda publicly said that they were "hypocrites and liars and history will judge them severely."

Jane Fonda has now apologized for a photograph, but she speaks about some unexplained context. The context is the crime. The photograph is merely the visual evidence of the crime.

Bruce Herschensohn is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute.Cold War Victory Commemorative Medal     (Est 1991) Struck to recognize any honorable military service between 2 Sept 1945 and 26 December 1991. Certificate but no medal available from the US Government by Congressional Resolution 64.

US Navy Commemorative Medal     (Est 1999) 1775 - 2000 Struck to honor all who have honorable military service in the U.S. Navy between 1775 to 2000.Editor's note: if you fought the successful war against the worldwide aggression of Communism, here are the medals a grateful nation has awarded you.

US Navy Commemorative Medal                               Cold War Victory Medal



Hanoi Jane Makes Another Feckless Stab at an Apology

June 22, 2000

Well, Jane Fonda has made another stab at apologizing for her treason during the Vietnam War. I use the word "treason" advisedly as one among thousands of New Leftists who crossed that line during the movement to oppose America's war in Vietnam. And, of course, to support the Communists' war which, after all, is what the so-called anti-war movement was all about. The liberals who launched America's effort in Vietnam tried to do it back-door style and so never actually declared war. This is a technicality that lets a lot of people off the hook in their own minds. But morally it won't wash. Actions have consequences and the so-called anti-war movement encouraged the Communists to prolong the war after they had been defeated on the ground (Tet 1968), until the American public's will to fight had been exhausted. The so-called anti-war movement also forced America to withdraw and then, after its post-Watergate electoral success, to cut off aid to South Vietnam, thus precipitating the Communist victory and the slaughter of two and a half million people that followed.

Of all the hate-America leftists who sought to help the Communists to win in Vietnam, Jane Fonda and her husband Tom Hayden undoubtedly did the most damage. In 1973 the United States signed a truce with the Communists and American military forces were withdrawn from Vietnam. But Hayden and Fonda had already launched a movement to cut remaining American aid to the beleaguered South Vietnamese and Cambodian regimes. The Communists on the other hand were fully supplied by Russia and China.

Hayden and Fonda's Indo-China Peace Campaign held caucuses in the US Capitol courtesy of pro-Communist members of Congress like Representatives Bella Abzug, Robert Drinan, Elizabeth Holtzman and Ron Dellums, and abetted by fellow travelers like Pat Schroeder and David Bonior and agitated for the severance of all support for the people of that region fighting to preserve their freedom and (as it turned out) their lives. Hayden and Fonda then traveled to Hanoi and to the "liberated zones" of South Vietnam to make a propaganda film called "Introduction to the Enemy" which presented the "new Vietnam" as a peasants' paradise. The film was designed to persuade Democrats in Congress to help the Communists to complete their victory. Their efforts were successful. Persuaded by the Hayden-Fonda left the Democrats cut the aid; the governments in Phnom Penh and Saigon fell; and the slaughter began.

Even back then, when I considered myself a "revolutionary Marxist," what Jane Fonda did on her visit to Hanoi (which was arranged by Hayden, who is now a Democratic state senator in California and a shaper of Democratic Party politics) made me extremely uncomfortable, not to say ill. She broadcast over Radio Hanoi incitements to American soldiers in the field to defect. She called American pilots like John McCain "war criminals." She (along with Hayden) served as shills for the Communist torturers of American POWs, not only saying that John McCain and his fellow prisoners were well treated but attacking the POWs when they returned to America to tell their stories of being tortured by the real war criminals in this conflict.

This was reprehensible behavior even by the reprehensible standards of the New Left at the time. (Which didn't prevent Jane from getting an Academy Award for Coming Home a mildly anti-military, anti-war effort film she made with actor Jon Voight). Recently, Jane was the executive producer on CNN's Cold War series, which continues by other means the left's assault on America.

Now Jane wants to apologize. Actually, she's been making half-hearted apologies for years (thanks in part to the vigilance of veterans' groups which have not allowed Americans to completely forget what she did).

Here's the newest apology in Oprah Winfrey's magazine: "I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft carrier [actually, it was in an anti-aircraft gun emplacement, not a carrier], which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. [Actually, that was her intention in posing for the photograph the way she did.] It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless."

"Horrible" is an appropriate word in this context. Too bad she thinks that all she did was sit for a photograph. "Thoughtless" is appropriate too. It characterizes her entire political life, including this latest (albeit improved) version of an apology.


David Horowitz is editor-in-chief of FrontPage Magazine and president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture.