It only took 40 years. But finally, actress-turned-workout-specialist Jane Fonda has apologized for sitting on a Viet Cong anti-aircraft gun during her 1972 visit to North Vietnam. Fonda, who used her fame to push her radical leftism during her heyday, traveled to Hanoi in 1972 in solidarity with the Viet Cong. While there, she proceeded to blame the US for supposedly bombing a dike system, and did a series of radio broadcasts stating that US leaders were “war criminals.” Those broadcasts were replayed for American POWs being tortured by the Viet Cong. Later, when POWs spoke about their experiences of torture, Fonda would call them “hypocrites and liars,” stating, “These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed.” She explained that these POWs were “careerists and professional killers.”
Now, four decades removed, sitting in the lap of luxury, Fonda has decided that the pictures on the anti-aircraft gun were a mistake. Not the actual visit – she stands by that. “I did not, have not, and will not say that going to North Vietnam was a mistake,” she said. “I have apologized only for some of the things that I did there, but I am proud that I went.”
But when it comes to those gun photos, then she wishes she’d done something different: “Sitting on that gun in North Vietnam. I’ll go to my grave with that one.” Of course, as John Nolte of Big Hollywood points out, that’s “a step up from what we learned in Patricia Bosworth’s biography, ‘Jane Fonda,’ where the star reportedly said: ‘My biggest regret is I never got to f*** Che Guevara.”
She’s a deep human being, you see.
Back in July 2011, she spelled out why she regretted the anti-aircraft gun photo:
It happened on my last day in Hanoi. I was exhausted and an emotional wreck after the 2-week visit. It was not unusual for Americans who visited North Vietnam to be taken to see Vietnamese military installations and when they did, they were always required to wear a helmet like the kind I was told to wear during the numerous air raids I had experienced. When we arrived at the site of the anti-aircraft installation (somewhere on the outskirts of Hanoi), there was a group of about a dozen young soldiers in uniform who greeted me. There were also many photographers (and perhaps journalists) gathered about, many more than I had seen all in one place in Hanoi. This should have been a red flag ….
Here is my best, honest recollection of what happened: someone (I don’t remember who) led me towards the gun, and I sat down, still laughing, still applauding. It all had nothing to do with where I was sitting. I hardly even thought about where I was sitting. The cameras flashed. I got up, and as I started to walk back to the car with the translator, the implication of what had just happened hit me. “Oh my God. It’s going to look like I was trying to shoot down U.S. planes.”
Of course, it never occurs to Fonda that the pain she caused with that photo was a mere sliver of the pain she caused by acting as a propagandist for one of the worst regimes in human history. But that’s because in Hollywood, being such a propagandist merely endears you to elites, as Sean Penn can tell you. Tom Lehrer once mocked NASA for working with former Nazi scientist Wernher Von Braun; “‘Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down,’” Lehrer sang, “‘That's not my department,’ says Wernher von Braun.” But in Hollywood, it’s worse than that: you’re feted for siding with the world’s most evil people.
That’s why Hollywood continues to treat the blacklist as one of the worst blots on American history. The truth is somewhat different: the Soviet Union was working with the American Communist Party to infiltrate Hollywood in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and succeeded in infiltrating the Hollywood unions to a large extent. The Communist Party was interested in the overthrow of the American way of government. Not all of those blacklisted were card-carrying communists; that was the tragedy of McCarthyism. But to sympathize for those who treated Stalin as a hero rather than shunning them as moral reprobates is a move only Hollywood could make. Dalton Trumbo, perhaps the most celebrated member of the Hollywood Ten, bragged to his bosses in the Soviet Union that the Communist Party in Hollywood had helped quash anti-Soviet films like an adaptation of Arthur Koestler’s masterwork Darkness at Noon. Some of the Communist Party’s favorite Hollywood movies included Mission to Moscow (1943), in which Hollywood gave a clean bill of health to the Stalinist show trials. Meanwhile, when it comes to today’s Hollywood blacklist of American conservatives, Hollywood honchos brag that it’s a positive development.
Jane Fonda should rightly have been written off by America’s most powerful institutions four decades ago. Instead, she still kicking – and next, she’s playing Nancy Reagan, whom she brags she’ll prevent from looking “too mean.”
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