Wednesday, January 16, 2008

For the Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/18/07

It might help the drought that so few flowers are left to water in Atlanta, so many having been thrown at Jane Fonda to celebrate her 70th birthday.

The AJC predictably gave her glowing coverage, with only the mention that Fonda has to deal with criticism by Vietnam veterans.

Here is one Vietnam veteran who is bothered far more by how the media portray her than by Fonda herself.

Now that the threat of communism is gone, the Cold War stand against it is sometimes ridiculed, likened to looking for boogeymen under the bed. Fonda's own affinity for communism is brushed aside as paranoid rubbish.

But it shouldn't be.

Among those who protested the Vietnam War were many honorable, patriotic and faithful citizens. Fonda was not one of them. Well, she certainly did protest, but if she was a faithful citizen and patriotic, it must have been for another country. Her anti-American roots are evident to any reporter setting willful blindness aside long enough to do some research.

In November 1970, in a speech to University of Michigan students, Fonda said, "If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become Communist."

Shortly thereafter at Duke University in North Carolina she said, "I, a socialist, think that we should strive toward a socialist society, all the way to communism."

A year later Fonda said at the University of Texas, "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."

The complete list is a long one.

What she actually did matters far more, of course, than what she thought or said as a young woman long ago. When Fonda took a camera crew to North Vietnam late in the war, her actions easily crossed the line of "aid and comfort to the enemy."

While in Hanoi, Fonda delighted our enemy by cavorting for cameras on an anti-aircraft gun, pretending to shoot at U.S. aircraft. Under pressure in recent years, Fonda said that was bad judgment, but her other actions were far worse.

She made speeches and recorded propaganda radio broadcasts in Hanoi expressing solidarity against " . . . our common enemy —- U.S. imperialism." She called our troops, our POWs and our president war criminals and begged U.S. troops to disobey orders from their officers.

Fonda returned to the U.S. and reported our POWs were well treated. When the POWs later came home to tell stories of their sustained starvation diet, maltreatment and torture —- real torture, not the kindergarten variety we now debate —- she called them liars.

Youthful indiscretions and rebellious ideas are one thing; Fonda's actions betraying her country are quite another. Prosecuting Fonda for her Hanoi escapade was considered, but set aside. Nobody could find a spine.

Fonda and Tom Hayden, the Marxist activist who would become her husband of 16 years, also organized lobbying efforts to cut off congressional funding for opposition to their friends in the communist regimes of Hanoi and the Cambodian Khmer Rouge. After funding was indeed cut off and America turned its back, the Khmer Rouge starved and murdered 1.5 million.

Just as bells cannot be unrung, some things cannot be forgiven. Nevertheless, Fonda seems to me just another aging radical. There have always been left-wing and right-wing kooks. My heartburn is reserved for you in the media who give her legitimacy, the reporters and editors and pundits who give her a pass.

Why is it that Fonda, who betrayed her country by going far beyond legitimate protest, is a media darling?

Why do news stories featuring her leave out those sordid details of her past, making only neutral reference to her clash with Vietnam veterans?

Why is it left to Vietnam veterans to balance Fonda's tributes with the details of her treason, as if Vietnam were somehow a war we created, as if she betrayed just us, and not you and the rest of the country?

When our troops returned from Vietnam through California airports, protesters often gathered there to shout insults and spit at them, sometimes throwing unmentionables to splatter their uniform. Those protesters were a tiny part of the population, but everyone else always seemed to be looking the other way.

That is what you in the media have been doing with Fonda for decades. Looking the other way.

> Terry Garlock of Peachtree City was a Cobra gunship helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War.

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