Jane Fonda visited Hanoi, North Vietnam in July 1972 at age thirty-five. At that time, the anti-war movement was at its highest point and sentiments against the war were running loud and strong in the United States.
In fact, on April 23, 1971, Vietnam veterans threw away over 700 medals on the West Steps of the Capital building. The next day, antiwar organizers claimed that 500,000 marched, making this the largest antiwar demonstration since the November 1969 march.
In addition, by May 1971, public support for the war had reached 28%. This was the last time Gallup polled this question: “In view of developments since we entered the fighting in Vietnam, do you think the U.S. made a mistake sending troops to fight in Vietnam?”
If you subtract 28 from 100, what is the answer that shows the percentage of Americans that were against the Vietnam War in 1971?
The highest rating for public support of the war was in 1966, the year I was there and that was 59%.
During her 1972 trip, Fonda made ten radio broadcasts in which she denounced American political and military leaders as “war criminals”.
Fonda’s visits to the POW camps in North Vietnam led to persistent and exaggerated rumors repeated widely in the American media, and decades later have continued to circulate on the Internet. Fonda has personally denied the rumors. Interviews with two of the alleged victims specifically named in the emails found these allegations to be false as they had never met Fonda.
Because of her time in North Vietnam, the ensuing circulated rumors regarding the visit, and statements made following her return, resentment against her among some veterans and those currently serving in the U.S. military still exists.
Snopes.com has this to say about Jane’s Fonda’s visit to Vietnam:
“Although Fonda’s actions in visiting North Vietnam were sufficient to earn her the wrath of many Americans, in the years since those events took place they have been embellished to the point that the one tale most commonly associated with her Vietnam Trip is an incident that never took place—a tale about U.S. POWs who furtively slipped messages to Fonda while she was meeting with them and whom Fonda promptly betrayed by turning those messages over to the POWs’ North Vietnamese captors (resulting in several of those prisoner’s being beaten, tortured, or killed). The fact is that while in North Vietnam, Fonda met with only a single group of seven U.S. POWs: all seven of those POWs agreed to meet with her, no POWs were tortured for declining to meet with her (or for behaving inappropriately during the meeting), and no POWs secretly slipped Fonda messages which she turned over to the North Vietnamese. The persons named in inflammatory claims about this apocryphal incident have repeatedly and categorically denied the events they supposedly were part of.”
There’s more at Snopes.com, and I urge you to read that entire entry. In fact, Snopes says, “Some of the POWs who did meet with Fonda have spoken out on the record to disclaim the apocryphal story about her alleged betrayal …”
Then there are these facts reported by the New York Times (also worth reading) that supports Fonda’s claim that America’s political and military leaders were “war criminals”.
The evidence that supports Fonda comes from the architect of the Vietnam War, Robert S. McNamara, the United States Secretary of Defense for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from January 21,1961 – February 29, 1968.
The NY Times reported, “The war became his personal nightmare. Nothing he did, none of the tools at his command—the power of American weapons, the forces of technology and logic, or the strength of American soldiers—could stop the armies of North Vietnam and their South Vietnamese allies, the Vietcong. He concluded well before leaving the Pentagon that the war was futile, but he did not share that insight with the public until late in life.”
McNamara recalled, “‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ and I’d say I—were behaving as war criminals.”
Then McNamara was quoted asking, “What makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”
“We are the strongest nation in the world today,” McNamara said in The Fog of War, released at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “I do not believe that we should ever apply that economic, political, and military power unilaterally. If we had followed that rule in Vietnam, we wouldn’t have been there. None of our allies supported us. Not Japan, not Germany, not Britain or France. If we can’t persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we’d better re-examine our reasoning.”
“War is so complex it’s beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend,” McNamara concluded. “Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily.”
Speaking out and protesting dramatically as Jane Fonda did in 1972 brands her as a true patriot and hero—not a traitor. It takes courage—or stupidity—to stand up and tell millions of trained killers they were wrong and were being led by war criminals, and the truth—of course—hurts those who refuse to hear it.
Patriots and heroes speak out when his or her government is wrong, but those who do not speak our may be as guilty as their leaders.
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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