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Last Saturday, actress-turned-fitness guru Jane Fonda was to appear on the shopping TV network QVC to peddle her new lifestyle book Prime Time, until the channel suddenly canceled her appearance. In response, Fonda wrote an angry opinion piece for the showbiz website “The Wrap,” explaining that “The network said they got a lot of calls yesterday criticizing me for my opposition to the Vietnam War and threatening to boycott the show.” (QVC issued a statement that answered Fonda’s comments only by noting that such scheduling changes happen often and unexpectedly on the network).
Fonda was “deeply disappointed that QVC caved to this kind of insane pressure by some well funded and organized political extremist groups.” Perhaps the actress in Fonda can’t resist the melodramatic wording, but a threatened boycott on the part of some QVC viewers does not constitute “insane pressure.” Threats of murder and mayhem from Islamists against Comedy Central’s South Park creators, yes; a boycott against a prominent actress always able to command a megaphone, no. Surely such a successful anti-war activist as Ms. Fonda was in one of her previous lives understands that a boycott is a perfectly fair and reasonable form of protest. It’s curious that she is so irked by one, since she boasts that “threats of boycotts are nothing new for me and have never prevented me from having best-selling books and exercise DVDs, films, and a Broadway play.” If boycotts have no effect on her success, then why the outrage? Perhaps it has less to do with book sales and more to do with what she dismisses as “far right lies.”
She doesn’t name these “well funded and organized political extremist groups” or provide evidence that a concerted effort was behind the phone calls to QVC. Labeling her complainants as “far right” and “extremist” is an attempt to marginalize them. Her suggestion is that she was “astroturfed,” in Nancy Pelosi’s term, by moneyed, extremist organizations, rather than by individual citizens expressing genuine disapproval of Fonda for what many consider to be a traitorous past.
“Bottom line,” Fonda continues, “this has gone on far too long, this spreading of lies about me! None of it is true. NONE OF IT! I love my country. I have never done anything to hurt my country or the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for us.” Since she doesn’t specify what lies she’s referring to, it’s difficult to refute her claim that none of them is true – which is precisely why she is purposefully vague about them. So let’s recapitulate her own lie instead– that she has “never done anything to hurt my country or the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for us.”
As is well-known (though Fonda would prefer not to be judged for it), in the early ‘70s the privileged Hollywood star Jane Fonda preached communism to college students and was a rabid anti-military and anti-war activist, calling the Vietnam War “U.S. imperialism” and “white man’s racist aggression.” In the summer of ’72, while the war still raged, the actress traveled to North Vietnam and played the part of their puppet with Oscar-winning commitment. She posed grinning with our enemy for pictures on an anti-aircraft gun that had been used to shoot down American planes. She volunteered to carry out radio propaganda from Hanoi, telling American pilots that they were war criminals and urging the South Vietnamese soldiers to desert. And, arguably most reprehensibly, she met with tortured American POWs in another scripted propaganda performance, lectured them about carrying out genocide against the Vietnamese, and returned to tell the world that these guests of the Hanoi Hilton were being well-treated and they regretted their warmongering. (The book Aid and Comfort details her shocking lies and actions and how they helped undermine us in the war effort, and it marshals the evidence for indicting Fonda for treason.)
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