Lessons on the New Left from the Hanoi Hilton

fondapic1C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb recently interviewed Lee Ellis, author of Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton. The book is a valuable primer on history that many Americans have forgotten or know only in part. Leading with Honor is also an introduction to characters all Americans should get to know better, such as Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda. Ellis came to know the pair under different circumstances.

In November of 1967 Ellis was shot down on a mission to destroy the guns that protected the Quang Khe ferry that supplied the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In the Hoa Lao prison, which POWs dubbed the Hanoi Hilton, Ellis learned firsthand about North Vietnam and its systematic torture of American POWs. As the author notes, the North Vietnamese tortured more than 95 percent of American POWs including eight tortured to death. Ellis describes the “Pretzel,” one of the regime’s favorite tortures:

After the prisoner’s legs were tied together, his arms were laced tightly behind his back until the elbows touched and the shoulders were virtually pulled out of joint. Then the torturer would push the bound arms up and over the head, while applying pressure with a knee to the victim’s back. During the torture, the circulation is cut off and the limbs to go sleep but the joint pain continues to increase as the ligaments and muscles tear. When the ropes are finally removed, circulation surges back into the “dead” limbs, causing excruciating pain.

POW Mike McGrath provides a sketch of the practice. The North Vietnamese also used handcuffs that could be ratcheted down tighter until they cut off circulation, even cut into the muscle and on some men, “deep enough to expose bone.” But the torture wasn’t all physical.

The captors piped in propaganda and, Ellis explains, “the afternoon broadcasts were especially disheartening because they featured Americans spouting words that could have been written for them in Moscow and Hanoi.” American Tom Hayden “was a regular speaker,” later joined by his wife “film star Jane Fonda.” For this pair, the American POWs were war criminals and their reports of torture were lies.

Ellis charitably calls Fonda an “anti-war activist,” but she and Hayden were not against war in general. They only opposed American participation in a war against the North Vietnamese regime they served as propagandists. Hayden was their voice in the cells of the Hanoi Hilton and Fonda partied it up with a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft squad. But unlike “Axis Sally,” Mildred Gillars, who served jail time for broadcasting Nazi propaganda, “Hanoi Jane” suffered not at all. Her money and prestige helped Hayden gain public office in California.

The war in Vietnam continued after the United States pulled out in 1973 and in 1975 South Vietnam fell to the Communists.  Hayden and Fonda celebrated the victory and remained uncritical of a Stalinist regime more repressive than its Soviet sponsors. Fonda even sought to slam the door on the “boat people” who fled the regime. Hayden called their defenders, such as Joan Baez, tools of the CIA.

Meanwhile, one of Tom Hayden’s comrades, John Froines, was recently the subject of a glowing profile in the Sacramento Bee describing him as a “social justice and civil rights advocate” but a stickler for facts and completely impartial.

Froines was a minor Zelig-like figure in the New Left but achieved a measure of fame for disrupting the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. He was acquitted on rioting charges and, armed with a PhD in chemistry from Yale, went on to work for the federal government. He later landed in California, where his Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants used suspect data to impose an onerous regulatory regime that punishes California workers

Froines’ panel championed a study by Hien Tran of the California Air Resources Board, who claimed to have a PhD from UC Davis. Actually, Tran bought his degree from a diploma mill in a New York UPS office. Froines also fought epidemiologist James Enstrom of the UCLA School of Public Health, who exposed Tran’s fakery and pointed out problems in his study.

Even so, Froines was duly reappointed to the panel by Assembly Speaker John Perez who claimed to have earned a degree from UC Berkeley, a claim backed by state officials and federal Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. But that too was wrong. Perez, a “Chicano Studies” major, did not earn a degree at UC Berkeley. In politically correct California, a virtual one-party state, the falsehood hurt him not at all.

The California Environmental Protection Agency honored John Froines in a private ceremony and the Italian city of Capri gave him the prestigious Ramazzini Award as a “public health hero.” New Left hero Tom Hayden went on to teach at UCLA and Occidental College. And Jane Fonda of course remains a Big Star.

To find out how Tom and Jane came across from the cells of the Hanoi Hilton, and to learn what kind of regime they defended, readers might consult Leading with Honor by Lee Ellis. Yes, there’s a lesson or two in there somewhere.

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  • davarino

    Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden are dispicable “human” beings, along with the rest of their ilke. Liars and cheaters, all of them. I saw in the news recently a piece that talked about Jane Fonda and how she is not dealing with her age very well, and coming to grips with her mortality. She said she finds herself crying all the time. So I thought maybe she would be regretting the things she has done in her life and come to a realization of how wrong she was. Nope, what was she crying about, the polar bears, butterflies, and monkeys. This is a wasted life that was sheltered and has no concept of reality. Dispicable

    • rose maryawn

      my Aunty Grace got a nearly new blue Kia by
      working part time from the internet. look at this now B­u­z­z­3­4­.­ℂ­o­m

    • Ken Martin

      She sees hell coming.

  • Atikva

    Even Yuri Bezmenov singled out Hanoi Jane, Ms. Fonda, when expressing the deep contempt felt by his ex-KGB colleagues for the american useful idiots.

  • mtnhikerdude

    They both should have been deported as traitors.

    • Ohbama Binlyin

      They should have be arrested and tried as traitors, then given long prison time to contemplate their fascist agenda.

      • Sharps Rifle


  • ennis

    Does anyone remember the time when a veteran decided to return the favor to Jane Fonda and spat in her face during an autograph signing?

    • PaulR

      Is there a video???

      • ennis

        Not that I know of. But I think there is a video of an interview of that veteran.

  • drthomasedavis

    For the crime of Treason, there is no statute of limitations. Both Hayden and Fonda could and should be tried for their treasonous conduct and hanged from the gallows. The same should apply to Obama, Clinton, Panetta, Holder and Dempsey. Treason is a heinous crime calling for instantaneous justice. If we desire to save this great republic, several hangings are in order. I offer my services to carry out the hangings.
    Dr. Thomas E. Davis, Colonel, USA (ret)

    • Wolfthatknowsall

      Colonel, I said virtually the same thing, not having noticed your post. I prefer firing squads, though. Messier …

      • Drakken

        Firing squads are an honorable death, hangings are reserved for the treasonous and treacherous amongst us.

      • A Z

        I should think a firing squad is to be preferred over hanging unless it is a Chinese firing squad. They aim for the head.

        • Hass

          That is correct, they do aim for the head only because the need to preserve the vital organs for the highly profitable business of transplants.

          • A Z

            Westerners need to hurry up and learn how to clone organs from their own stems cells inexpensively One man was able to get graft muscle and skin back onto an ankle. The bill was over $250,000. The man was a carpenter and was 50-ish. An EVIL company donated the materials. The carpenter was unable to pay for it.

            It is scary. The man at 50 something was too close to the 75 year age cut off that is being imposed by the EVIL Democrat leaders.

            I am surprised they did not take him out back and put him down.

            “Stem cell treatment helps Dalton man recover from flesh-eating bacteria”



    • jerseychris

      Kerry too.

      • Barbaracvm

        Don’t forget Johnny ‘songbird’ McCain and all of those 30 plus propaganda tapes he made for North Vietnam . Does anyone know where he was for about 9 months. He was at the Hanoi Hilton then he was gone for months and then he was returned to the Hilton.

        • A Z

          I do not know if what you say is true. He might have merely been kept in isolation.

          Or might have been programmed. I would not blame him for being broken from what I know of torture.

        • NAHALKIDES

          McCain’s case is far different, as he too was tortured at the Hanoi Hilton. He nonetheless declined to cooperate with the Communists as far as I know – I don’t know what tapes you’re talking about. But if he made them, he made them under duress, unlike Fonda and Hayden.

          McCain hasn’t been much of a Senator, and maybe he wasn’t too bright as a military officer – but he was at least brave and resolute during the war.

          • WhiteHunter

            McCain not only withstood the crippling torture; he also did something truly heroic: turned down an offer of early release, which the communist war criminals wanted as a propaganda coup because his father was a USN admiral. To me that single gesture of voluntary self-sacrifice was his greatest, and proudest, accomplishment, something that very few of us would have had the strength to emulate.

          • NAHALKIDES

            Very true – McCain was and is a hero for that. Because of that, it pains me to say he’s hurt the Conservative cause, but he has through his attacks on Conservatives and his general intellectual inconsistency.

          • WhiteHunter

            Agreed, totally and on every point. We need to compartmentalize young McCain the genuine war hero on the one hand, and Senator John McCain, RINO-Arizona, on the other. He’s done immense damage to the Party and the country in political office, and not only by throwing away any chance to win the 2008 presidential election against (gag) Obama. Some have suggested that his nomination was engineered by Damnocrats who “crossed over” to vote for him in the Republican primaries and saddle our ticket with him, knowing he’d suppress the Republican vote in the general election, and never get theirs in the first place–and I don’t think they’re paranoid “conspiracy theorists” for suspecting that.

            Strangely, another almost perfectly parallel (and equally baffling) case comes to mind: John Glenn. Aggressive fighter pilot in the Korean War (known as “the MiG-Mad Marine”); Mercury astronaut and first American to orbit the earth–a celebrated, ticker-tape-parade national hero and role model for every American boy (including me, at the time–his orbital flight on 2/20/62 was my tenth birthday, and I remember watching every minute of it live on TV) and frequent honored guest of Jack and Jackie at Hyannis Port. Then, incredibly, as U.S. Senator from Ohio, a hard-core Damnocrat partisan, and good friend of the (ugh!) Clintons.

            I don’t know what snaps in the heads of men like that–to make a complete U-turn from bravely, heroically, fighting the enemy during their military careers, to now, in political office, joining our malevolent internal enemies to help undermine and bring our country to her knees.

            Any ideas, anybody? (no sneering trolls allowed)

          • NAHALKIDES

            I would say the answer must be that they accept some of the poisonous premises of the Left, and then logic requires the poison do its work and produce a Progressive. It’s hard to trace the intellectual development of McCain, because, without intending to be jocular, his intellect is so little developed period. And I’m not familiar with any of Glenn’s speeches or writings – I’d guess he probably wasn’t much smarter than McCain.

            Back to McCain: the way in which he most reminds me of the typical Leftist is his self-conscious virtue, his preening vanity. Lefties love to feel that they’re superior to the rest of us, and they validate this superiority by holding the “right” views – the ones validated by their peers (fellow urban yuppies) and the institutions the Left controls (media, universities). McCain’s central views are indistinguishable from the typical Lefty pol except that he still opposes abortion (I’m sure he can’t articulate a reason why) and he’s gung-ho for all kinds of military actions, especially air campaigns, which bear no relation to the defense of the U.S.

          • danhoch

            I’ve heard different stories about McCain’s stay at the Hilton. Heard he sang like a canary. Also, when MIA’s were found by the code that they were given, and planes flying overhead could see the ‘code”, it was all brought to the Senate and he refused to hear it and actually tore into one of the mothers during the senate hearing. I have no sympathy for this RINO and hope he is ousted. I don’t know if all this was framed by his stay in Hanoi.

      • JDinSTL

        Mashed Potato Face

    • Ken Martin

      I think Hayden is already dead, but you are 100% correct on the others. You can add John Kerry, another traitor, to the list.

  • Wolfthatknowsall

    There is no statute of limitations on treason. Personally, I would be happy to serve on the firing squad, as long as I get a live round …

  • tanstaafl

    The wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind true……

  • stringman

    I nearly barf up a lung when I inadvertently watch a movie that Fonda is in. The woman is a menace to anything good. And wasn’t North Vietnam invading the South, with the help of the Chicoms? Perhaps you should let a little knowledge invade your head. Just saying. Oh and let’s not forget, that after we pulled out and left the South swinging in the wind, the north swooped in and systematically murdered millions. And the Fonda-loving media barely uttered a peep about it. As for torture, I think I’d much prefer the waterboard to having my shoulders yanked out of their sockets. How about you?

    • A Z

      China provided 800,000 troops for the North Vietnamese.

      300,000 were stationed in North Vietnam for garrison duty. They were in Chinese uniform for American eyes to see.

      There rest were across the border for ready to cross into North Vietnam if needed.

      This allowed North Vietnamese garrison troops to be released for “duty” in the south.

    • Wolfthatknowsall

      Unless I catch the opening of a movie, I barely know what the Hanoi B**** looks like, these days. I’ve been surprised a couple of times, until my wife tells me who the female lead is …

      • stringman

        Cold sweat pours out of me when I think that my viewership might be supporting such evil. If she were on fire I’d bring marshmellows. And I always recognize her instantly. I’d sooner forget the face of Satan himself.

  • physicsnut

    I got “Hollywood Party” at BN years ago – it was in the FILM section – not the politics section !!! Great book.

  • Minny-Me

    Jane Fonda is a traitor she betrayed every Viet Nam Veteran, stabbed them in the back. Whenever I see her face I want to vomit. Go away Hanoi Jane…GO AWAY!

  • Well Done

    Jane Fonda. What a dumb beetch. Anyone who supported her actions at the time is a dumb aszwhole.

  • VenturaCapitalist

    First of all, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apology to CARB’s ace scientist Mr. Hien Tran (sorry, I mean DOCTOR Tran). I have in previous posts referred to the distinguished doctor as a “diploma mill dropout.” However it appears he did in fact successfully purchase his doctoral degree from the diploma mill. I regret the error.

    Appointments to the CARB Scientific Review Panel are by law to be for just 3 years, to introduce new ideas into the process and try to prevent ossified junk science group think and religious zealotry from turning CARB into a terrorist hit squad bent on destroying the California economy. (…yeah, how’s that working out?)

    John Froines was allowed to sit on the panel for over 25 years.

    This domestic terrorist is running environmental policy in California. Any question about why these policies are so destructive?


  • Ken Martin

    American Traitor Bitch.

  • HettyT

    Henry’s child. Products of Hollyweird. Anti-American to the core.

  • A Z

    North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in a covert manner. Apparently, They learned the invading overtly in the manner North Korea invaded south Korea was not a winning strategy.

    When are you going with Dennis Rodman to North Korea for the free booze and hookers?

    If Dennis won’t take you this time, I know you are there in spirit.

  • stringman

    And get barfed on?!?!? Nah! Dennis can’t hold his liquor. I’m not partying with him! LOL

  • reader

    North, South – it’s way too complicated for this troll. It would be easy if any of the sides had been Jewish. That it would remember as it was yesterday.