Catching up with the selectively proud Hanoi Jane

That famous picture

Last year, as a service to young people who were born long after Jane Fonda (she’s an elderly movie actress, ICYDK) made a fool of herself in Vietnam, we revisited that reprehensible 1972 incident, when – in the midst of a proxy war between her own country and its totalitarian foes – she traveled to North Vietnam, chummed around with its soldiers, read their propaganda aloud on the radio for an audience of American servicemen, praised the murderous North Vietnamese dictator Ho Chi Minh, called U.S. troops war criminals, urged members of the U.S. Air Force to disobey orders, and (last but not least) had her picture taken on an anti-aircraft battery.

Fraternizing with the enemy

Fonda has claimed innumerable times that the last-named action, which earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane,” was “a two-minute lapse of sanity that will haunt me forever.” But it was more than a matter of just two minutes. And it was no lapse. At the time of her visit, Fonda was already a dyed-in-the-wool antagonist of her own nation and an outspoken friend of totalitarian Communism. “If you understood what communism was,” she told an audience in 1970, “you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.” In her extensive whitewash of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, Fonda lied about their brutal treatment of American POWs – and then, after those POWs returned home and called her a liar, she had the nerve to call them liars. In more recent years, she’s taken part in Communist-led rallies, shared stages with Saddam Hussein’s chum George Galloway, vilified Israel, and said that her “biggest regret” was that she “never got to fuck Che Guevara.”

With Ted Turner. Communism pays off!

As we pointed out last year, authors Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer published a whole book in 2002 in which they showed that Fonda’s actions in Vietnam amounted to treason. In Fonda’s own 2005 memoir she rewrote the whole episode, depicting herself as a tribune of peace rather than a Communist traitor. Of course, she’s a Communist traitor with a difference: for ten years, she was married to CNN honcho Ted Turner, one of the most powerful men in America as well as America’s largest private landowner. So she’s not just a world-class Communist; she’s a world-class Communist hypocrite.

Giving Megyn Kelly the evil eye earlier this month, in response to a question about plastic surgery

Since we dropped in on Hanoi Jane last year, she’s been in the news several times. At the Emmy Awards, on September 17, she and Lily Tomlin, with whom she appears in a Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, joined in calling President Trump “a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” (Their 9 to 5 co-star Dolly Parton, standing onstage between them, looked distinctly uncomfortable.) But that was relatively nothing. Later Fonda made headlines when, on The Today Show, Megyn Kelly dared to ask her about plastic surgery. Well, Fonda may believe in Communism, but it’s clear she also believes that the entertainment-media serfs shouldn’t dare pose certain questions to cinema royalty such as herself. She shot Kelly a look that could kill.

Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Fonda at the 2017 Emmys

But let’s set that aside too, and move on to earlier this month, when she sat down for an interview with the BBC. Asked whether she was “proud of America today,” she replied with a quick, firm “no.” But, she added, “I’m proud of the resistance. I’m proud of the people who are turning out in unprecedented numbers and continue over and over and over again to protest what Trump is doing.” The topic of Vietnam came up – and again the lies came out. Rejecting the idea that she had been “siding with the enemy,” she claimed that after being photographed on that anti-aircraft battery, she’d thought: “Oh my gosh. It’s going to look like I am against my own country’s soldiers and siding with the enemy, which is the last thing in the world that was true.” Fonda is 79 now; presumably she will continue to promote this lie until she dies.

Still fabulous. And still dishonest!

But that wasn’t all. She actually tried to sell the idea that her trip had helped save “two million people who could have died of famine and drowning.” We don’t remember hearing her make this claim before. Fonda still looks fabulous, but perhaps the years are taking their toll on the old noggin. Or maybe it’s just another example of Celebrity Narcissism Syndrome, the symptoms of which do tend to intensify as time goes by. In any case, here’s her logic: “The United States was bombing the dikes in North Vietnam….If the dikes had given way, according to Henry Kissinger, somewhere around 2 million people could have died of famine and drowning. And we were bombing, and it wasn’t being talked about. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m a celebrity. Maybe if I go, and I bring back evidence.’ And it did stop two months after I got back, so I’m proud that I went.”

Another recent glamour shot

As far as we can tell, there aren’t any serious historians who feel that Fonda had anything to do with an end to the U.S. bombings. On the other hand, her visit didn’t exactly enhance American morale, and it could be that, in the long term, Fonda’s PR job for the enemy helped tip the balance toward ultimate U.S. withdrawal. But if you’re going to make that argument, you’re going to have to give Fonda a share of the responsibility for the fact that after the U.S. pulled out of Indochina, the Viet Cong murdered tens of thousands of South Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge exterminated 1.5 to three million Cambodians. Are you proud of that, Jane?

Jane Fonda’s doublethink

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Fonda in North Vietnam

Yesterday we explored Jane Fonda‘s 1972 sojourn in North Vietnam, during which she was famously photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft battery – and did much else that was equally deplorable but far less famous. As we noted, that visit was only a single episode in a long life of useful stoogery, which has also attracted far less notice than it should have. Indeed, it could be argued that those pictures of her with that North Vietnamese weapon have been something of a lightning rod for all these decades, helping to draw attention away from everything else she’s done to promote totalitarianism and fight freedom.

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Fonda not in North Vietnam

Certainly to anyone who cared to listen, it was clear from early on that Fonda wasn’t just a liberal or left-wing activist but an out-and-out revolutionary Communist – or at least wanted, for whatever reason, to be seen as one. In 1970 she told a college audience, “If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist.”

The next year she told another audience: “We’ve got to establish a socialist economic structure that will limit private profit-oriented businesses. Whether the transition is peaceful depends on the way our present governmental leaders react. We must commit our lives to this transition.” The historical record is full of such statements made by Fonda over the years to various newspaper reporters, in various TV and radio interviews, and from various stages and platforms.

5572832 (9053) USA, Las Vegas, 14.08.1964: Hochzeit von Roger VADIM, französischer Regisseur und Jane FONDA, amerikanische Schauspielerin [SPERRVERMERKE BEACHTEN | PLEASE CHECK RESTRICTIONS!Nutzung nur im redaktionellen Kontext und nur gegen Honorar, Beleg, Namensnennung und zu unseren AGB. Weitergabe und Archivierung nur mit schriftlicher Genehmigung. Honorare an: KEYSTONE Pressedienst,HASPA, BLZ 200 505 50, Kto.1235130877] 1965 by KPA
Fonda with first husband, French film director Roger Vadim, 1964
Certainly she’s spent much of her life agitating for socialist change. Years before going to Vietnam, she was a staunch supporter of the Black Panthers. Shortly after 9/11, she urged Americans to “try to find the underlying cause” of the attacks. In 2005, she joined the execrable Saddam crony George Galloway on an antiwar speaking tour of the U.S. In 2007, she spoke at a Marxist-led antiwar rally in Washington, D.C., telling the audience that she hadn’t attended any such rally in 34 years out of concern that “the lies…spread about me and that war” would “be used to hurt this new antiwar movement.” (In fact, as we’ve seen, the person who’s been spreading lies about Jane Fonda’s activities during the Vietnam War is Fonda herself.) In 2009, she joined fellow useful stooges Danny Glover, David Byrne, John Pilger, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, and Howard Zinn in signing a letter protesting the “Israeli propaganda machine.”

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Jane Fonda with third husband, Ted Turner

Yet can it really be said that Fonda has heeded her own call to “commit our lives” to a transition to socialism? Let’s not forget that in addition to be a useful stooge for totalitarianism, she’s also been a world-class hypocrite. From 1991 to 2001, this self-styled revolutionary Communist was married to multibillionaire media mogul Ted Turner, who, at the time, was the largest landowner in the United States, his real-estate holdings adding up to an empire larger than Rhode Island and Delaware put together. Years before their marriage, moreover, Fonda had established her own massive business empire, hawking workout books and videos that sold in huge numbers for years, helped kick off the baby boom’s fitness craze, and made her untold millions. Has any useful stooge’s hypocrisy factor ever been so high?

workoutThe striking thing about Fonda is that she’s been carrying on this doublethink for so long – living the life of a stupefyingly successful capitalist while continuing to spout socialist slogans – and seems never to have paused to question it. Is she the fool that she seems to be, or is she, in fact, some kind of supremely cynical genius? As we’ve seen over and over again on this site, some useful stooges for totalitarianism are authentic true believers, plainly out to change the world. But Fonda has always seemed perfectly comfortable with her contradictions. Her enthusiastic talk about socialism has never seemed to have the slightest connection to her own reality, and has rarely if ever been accompanied by even a hint of meaningful action to advance her purported cause. The more one ponders her life, the more her activism seems to be about seeing glamour in revolution and about seeking attention. A 2011 biography by Patricia Bosworth quotes her as saying that her “biggest regret” was that she “never got to fuck Che Guevara.” Maybe that inane statement sums up the nature of her political “commitments” as well as anything else.

Jane Fonda: she regrets (almost) nothing

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Jane Fonda in North Vietnam, 1972

To older readers, it may seem unnecessary to revisit the moral depredations of Jane Fonda, which made worldwide headlines during the Vietnam War. But the fact is that countless younger people today, while acquainted with her through her continuing work in movies and television, are unfamiliar with her sordid history. Even many of those who will never forget her 1972 visit to North Vietnam and the famous photographs of her sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery, as if she were a soldier preparing to shoot down American aircraft, may not remember – or may never have known about – some of her other, equally offensive actions over the years. Yes, she’s apologized numerous times for those pictures, confessing to “a two-minute lapse of sanity that will haunt me forever”; but her actions on that day were of a piece with her entire history of political activism, for which she has never apologized and which she continues to pursue to this day.

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Laughing with North Vietnamese soldiers, 1972

During her 1972 North Vietnam visit alone, for example, she made several radio broadcasts in which she unquestioningly regurgitated her hosts’ propaganda, accusing the U.S. of genocide, calling U.S. soldiers war criminals, and urging President Nixon to read the poetry of Ho Chi Minh. On her return home, she testified that American POWs were being humanely treated; later, when released POWs contradicted her accounts, she called them liars. When she and her second husband, radical activist Tom Hayden, had a son in 1973, they named him Troy, after Nguyen Van Troi, a Viet Cong bomber who, ten years earlier, had tried to assassinate Robert McNamara and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (When Troy married black actress Simone Bent in 2007, Hayden described it as “another step in a long-term goal of mine: the peaceful, nonviolent disappearance of the white race.”)

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Jane Fonda and second husband Tom Hayden

In a 2002 book, Aid and Comfort, authors Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer demonstrated convincingly that Fonda’s actions in North Vietnam rose to the level of prosecutable treason. By contrast, in her own 2005 memoir, My Life So Far, Fonda offered a radically whitewashed account of that chapter of her life – claiming, for instance, that all she’d done on Hanoi radio was speak from her heart about the cause of peace. In fact she’d read verbatim from scripts prepared by the North Vietnamese government – scripts crammed with crude propaganda exalting Communism and demonizing the U.S. military.

fondaIn her book, far from expressing blanket remorse for her North Vietnamese visit, Fonda apologized only for those notorious pictures. “I do not regret,” she wrote, “that I went [to North Vietnam]. My only regret about the trip was that I was photographed sitting in a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun site.” Indeed, she applauded herself for going to North Vietnam and even suggested that her efforts had helped end the war. On the contrary, as North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin later told the Wall Street Journal, “Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda…gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses.” And thus prolonged the war, and helped ensure American defeat.

That’s a bad enough legacy for anyone. But as we say, Fonda’s North Vietnam visit was only one episode in a long, destructive life of useful stoogery. More tomorrow.