Jane Fonda featured speaker at Kent State 50th Anniversary of shootings

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Jane Fonda featured speaker at Kent State 50th Anniversary of shootings

I might as well start all the way back at the beginning, with the Kent State shootings.  I'm assuming that everyone knows the basics of that event, but on the off chance someone doesn't, this is a fairly decent video that explains it.  I'm sure people on both sides would take issue with some of it, but honestly, it's more balanced than most things I could find.

I wasn't born yet, so I have no first hand knowledge of any of it.  Indisputably the protesters burned down the ROTC building.  What is in dispute is whether the shots were self-defense (from the un-located sniper) or what prompted the shooting.

Either way, that doesn't have bearing on the rest.

As is well known, two years later Jane Fonda visited North Vietnam.  It was a real coup for the North Vietnamese because she was a popular actress at the time. But I did want to start by what she DIDN'T do in Vietnam, because those stories persist, even though Congress investigated and found no proof of it.  

From a Fox News article:

To wit: Although Fonda did go to Hanoi, participated in a staged press conference with American POWs and posed for some regrettable pictures, she did not — I repeat did not — turn in the names of American POWs to the North Vietnamese military. There was no passing of pieces of crumpled paper from Americans to her. Her main speech, the text of which follows, simply describes her observations of the North Vietnamese people as fellow human beings.

This does not excuse what Fonda did or get her off the hook. Stanley Karnow, a highly respected journalist and author of the impressively reviewed Vietnam: A History, told me on Saturday: "I think what she did was reprehensible. And it’s not like the North Vietnamese took her seriously. If they wanted to make a statement to the U.S., they knew how to do it. Not through fringe activists, but through regular channels."

Nevertheless, Karnow told me — when I presented him with the many urban myths this column was sent about Fonda’s visit: "I’ve never heard of any of this."

Because they didn’t happen.

Fonda never came in contact with someone named Col. Larry Carrigan. She also was never spat at by a POW, who in turn was tortured as punishment for his actions.

In fact, Cora Weiss — a fringe anti-war activist who organized trips to Hanoi in those days — said in a previously published interview: "We asked Jane if she wanted to meet American POW pilots and she declined."

That last portion, that she never met any POWs is not apparently accurate either.  I know you guys will hate Snopes, but it cites to an article from the Minn Star Tribune and quotes from the POWs hemselves.  (Which you can see in a library on microfiche)  Either way:

Despite the claims of hundreds of Vietnam veterans who maintain they were “there” and affirm that accounts like the “smuggled Social Security number betrayal” are true because they supposedly witnessed them, the fact is that Fonda met only seven American POWs while in North Vietnam: Edison Miller, Walter Wilber, James Padgett, David Wesley Hoffman, Kenneth James Fraser, William G. Byrns, and Edward Elias. None of those men reported her sabotaging their attempts to slip her information about themselves, and anyone other than those seven men who asserts he was “there” and witnessed such a scene is simply not telling the truth.

And from the Star Tribune, the actual statements of Larry Carrigan:

“It’s a figment of somebody’s imagination.” said Ret. Col. Larry Carrigan, one of the servicemen mentioned in the ‘slips of paper’ incident. Carrigan was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and did spend time in a POW camp. He has no idea why the story was attributed to him, saying, “I never met Jane Fonda.” In 2005, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Carrigan “is so tired of having to repeat that he wasn’t beaten after Fonda’s visit and that there were no beating deaths at that time that he won’t talk to the media anymore.”

Nonetheless, she did give several publicized statements there.  The one the FoxNews article above references can be found at the link.  In that speech she makes some comments that are incendiary, but she doesn't mention US troops or anything, placing all of the blame on Richard Nixon.  However, for reasons not clear to me, they skip the other speech, which in my opinion (and that of the Legion at the time) was far worse.

[Also worth mentioning is that FoxNews cites to a Legion post website that alas is no longer available.]

However, in that second speech she said:

Many people in the United States deplore what is being done to you. We understand that Nixon's aggression against Vietnam is a racist aggression, that the American war in Vietnam is a racist war, a white man's war...

We deplore that you are being used as cannon fodder for U.S. imperialism. We've seen photographs of American bombs and antipersonnel weapons being dropped, wantonly, accidentally perhaps, on your heads, on the heads of your comrades. And we note with interest that (?these) kind of accidents don't happen, at least not with as much frequency, to American soldiers, and we think this is an indication of the lack of concern that is being taken for your lives by the white American officers, both in Vietnam and in the Pentagon and in the White House not to mention the officers in Saigon who have been bought off by the ruling class of the United States.

We know what U.S. imperialism has done to our country in the United States, how it is affecting the working people of the United States and particularly the people of (?courage). And so we know what lies in store for any third world country that could have the misfortune of falling into the hands of a country such as the United States and becoming a colony.

(Note that some of this is found HERE in a slightly easier fashion to read, but the link above is from the Congressional transcript.)

Another speech included this:

I'm speaking to the US servicemen who are stationed on the aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin. ... One thing that you should know is that these weapons are illegal. ... And the use of these bombs ... makes one a war criminal.''

In August of that year at our Annual Convention the first resolution dealing with Ms Fonda took place.  

WHEREAS, Jane Fonda has been quoted as stating: "We know what U.S. imperialism has done to our country ... so we know what lies in store for any Third World country that could have the misfortune of falling into the hands of a country such as the United States and becoming a colony"; and

WHEREAS, Jane Fonda made a recent visit to Hanoi and made other public statements adverse to the official position of the United States in Vietnam; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Chicago, Illinois, August 22, 23, 24, 1972, That The American Legion urge that an appropriate investigation be made by the Attorney General of the United States, and if warranted, take such action as legally appropriate.

Again, I was too young to know anything about this, and frankly hadn't really heard of Ms Fonda that I recall until 1992, the year I was about to graduate from The Citadel.  However, in 1988 Ms Fonda did a sort of redemption tour, starting with an appearance with Barbara Walters on 20/20:

Interviewed by Barbara Walters for the show ``20/20,'' Fonda talks about her 1972 trip, when she climbed onto a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun for photographs, and made a propaganda broadcast from Hanoi.

Getting onto that gun was ``a thoughtless and careless thing to have done,'' Fonda told ABC. ``For someone like me who's ... in the communication business. I know the power of images.''  [...]

``I would like to say something ... to men who were in Vietnam, who I hurt, or whose pain I caused to deepen because of things that I said or did. ... I feel that I owe them an apology. My intentions were never to hurt them or make their situation worse. It was the contrary: I was trying to help end the killing and the war, but there were times when I was thoughtless and careless about it, and I'm very sorry that I hurt them.''

Was Fonda duped by the Vietnamese?

``No,'' she says. ``I'm naive and I make mistakes. ... I was a big girl. I could have said, `No, I can't do this.' It was my fault.''

I didn't see this, because again, I was at a military college and thus had no TV.  As an 18 year old trying to just make it through the school it's unlikely I would have watched it anyway.

As an aside, most people probably don't know this, but Ted Turner (who was at the time married to Ms Fonda) sent all of his sons to the Citadel.  One of his sons, "Teddy" even ran for Congress in Charleston as a Republican.  I knew his other two sons from my time there, Beau and Rhett, the former of which was even my host for what was called "pre-knob weekend."  Again, I came from a small town in Massachusetts and didn't have TV other than two CBS channels (and literally no other) so I didn't know anything about Mr Turner, but found him to be a very nice man when met him.  (Ironically at his 49th Birthday party.)

Nonetheless, when Mr. Turner was named our graduation speaker that year, everything turned pretty bad.  There was all kinds of talk that if he brought Ms Fonda that cadets would walk out, parents would interupt the speech etc.  When it came to it, she did not come, and the vast bulk of his speech was actually a defense of The Citadel being an all-male college.  In fact I still remember him saying to much laughter than men are free of women in only two places, The Citadel and the bathroom, and he feared losing one would result in us losing the second as well.  Mr Turner would also donate $25 million to the unsuccessful legal effort to keep The Citadel all male.

Nonetheless, Ms Fonda did not make an appearance at the graduation.  Thankfully. since all I wanted to do was get my diploma and get out of dodge.  (Especially since I hadn't completed some punishment tours that the Commandant had given me, and he'd said he'd decide whether I'd graduate only when I walked up to the stage.  RIP Colonel Harvey M. Dick, you were one of a kind!)

Cadets and military parents weren't the only ones unpursuaded by the mea culpa on 20/20, as is made clear by this resolution from our 1988 convention:

WHEREAS, Jane Fonda appeared on the American Broadcasting Company's "20/20" news program and when pressed by Barbara Walters as to her feelings, she said she wants to tell the American people she was sorry for her actions with the enemy during the Vietnam War; and

WHEREAS, A great many of America's fighting men and women lost their lives, were wounded, tortured and suffered in many other ways because of Jane Fonda's dealing with the enemy; and

WHEREAS, Until she proves without any doubt that she is truly sorry for her actions by using her influence with the government she supported against the United States to get the return or an accounting for our MIA's and POW's; and

WHEREAS, We of The American Legion do not believe her apology was in any way sincere and was only stated on the TV program as a ruse to further enhance her many commercial undertakings; and

WHEREAS, To prove she is sincere, Ms. Fonda should use her time, money and energy in every way possible to give aid to those wounded in action and to those needy families of servicemen and women who died while serving their country in Southeast Asia; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Louisville, Kentucky, September 6, 7, 8, 1988, That The American Legion go on public record as opposed to accepting Ms. Fonda's apology until she proves by her actions in a show of good faith by her aid and comfort to those who even today suffer because of the torture inflicted by the enemy brought on by her dealing with the enemy.

I'm told that this resolution is still on the books, never having been rescinded.  

Kent State is apparently being peppered with mail about inviting her, as evidenced by this statement that Kent State has put up about her inclusion in the event:

Statement of the May 4 50th Commemoration Advisory Committee On Its Decision To Include Jane Fonda in the Commemoration Program

The May 4 50th Commemoration Advisory Committee appreciates the personal and meaningful responses we have received about the inclusion of activist Jane Fonda as one of several keynote speakers at the 50thCommemoration of the Kent State shooting.

We take to heart the painful feelings expressed by those for whom Fonda’s visit to Hanoi as a young activist in 1972 had a profound impact. We are equally moved by those who expressed their high regard for Fonda’s atonement after the incident and her life-long activism in support of human rights and civil rights.

As a diverse group of individuals who have confronted and learned from our own missteps and growth over the last 50 years, the Advisory Committee finds value in both views of the speaker’s contribution to a program that is emblematic of long-standing divisions in our country and the difficulty we have reconciling our differences.

This also has done very little to assuage the anger of people.  And to add a bit more to the story, Kent State is a public university, meaning they draw funding from the taxpayers of the state.  And.....welll.....

The university also provided a contract that states the $83,000 being paid to Jane Fonda to speak during the commemoration covers her airfare. But the school also will provide Fonda with a one-bedroom suite and one single room at a first-class hotel for two nights as well as meals and a “dark-colored town car” during her stay.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a decorated U.S. Army veteran, this week publicly objected to Kent State paying for Fonda to appear because she “betrayed our service members.”

Kent State’s 18-member May Commemoration Advisory Committee, made up of students, faculty, university leaders, May witnesses and survivors, have said previously that Fonda is a “fitting voice of activism that spans many generations young and old and aligns with the pillars and vision of the 50th commemoration.”

The Cleveland.com website linked above also has information on the contract itself which shows she will be on campus a grand total of 2 hours and 45 minutes including an hour in the green room and talking to the campus newspaper, and then a 45 minute private reception with pictures.  $83,000 for a flight and an hour speech.

I'll let you decide what to think of that one.


Posted in the burner | 55 comments
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Lock this traitor up.

This is why I am going to quit the American Legion.You and the propaganda you throw out is unconscionable. I was part of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War for 5 years. From 1970 to 1975, I and many other brothers and supporters worked hard to end that crazy and illegal war. You remember, the war that killed, maimed, and destroyed millions of American soldiers, and SE Asian peoples. The war that was created by lies and deceits, and moral decay of our leaders (Nixon, Westmoreland, Kissenger, McNamara and so many more...You know the war that McNamara apologized for because our government knew we shouldn't be there - but kept us there for years! We all did things to stop that war, including Jane Fonda... and today, I am still, at 71 years of age, fighting for my compensation of agent orange exposure! Unlike many brothers that died trying to get help but were denied. Shame on you American Legion leadership...shame on you! Your organization is now going to be history for me after almost 30 years of membership...Stand up, be for NO WARS, especially when they are WRONG! Thanks for nothing...Ron Thomey Sgt E-5 Army 1967-1970.

Bye Felicia

Frank Stuck When I went to Vietnam in 1963 we were there to protect a country that was democratic and being invaded by a communist nation and we honored our Commitment.Lost the war do to Lousy generals and weak back bone leaders.

I guess if we get invaded we can count on you to send another letter to the American Legion on how we should not get involved in defending ourselves.

Bye bye ronda.

Hit the road!

This merely reflects the deterioration of teaching over the past 60 years. It seems the youth of today know little of patriotism, know even less of the sacrifices made to create this wonderful country, and many of them are self-centered, politically ignorant, space wasting non-entities. To honor a traitor such as Fonda is pathetic. She, alone, is responsible for the extension of the war resulting in many deaths. This is unforgivable.

I am a combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam. I detest Hanoi Jane as the traitor she is to many fallen and afflicted comrades who served their country's call. Her actions were only self serving then and now. I wish the US Government had prosecuted her for her actions.

Just as a Tiger cannot change its stripes. So shall Jane Fonda always be known as Hanoi Jane (American Traitor) This comes from a Retired US Army SFC with 26 years of service.

I would say that if Kent State's president and Jane Fonda would both be willing to pass by a minimum of 10 people who would spit on them, then I would begin to forgive them both. Why this deplorable action, this is what some members of the armed forces received as a welcome home from Vietnam at the airport. They NEED to feel some of what was felt by young service members who had no want to be there but were drafted and went there instead of Canada. A good share of these actions were a direct result of Jane Fonda's actions. To this day I will not watch a movie with Jane in it.

When I came home from Vietnam G I Jane spoke at the college I was attending.
I stood at the back of the group and flipped her off her entire speech.

She should have been sent to jail!
She was incredibly stupid and a traitor!

While I believe some of the old stories about Ms Fonda’s visit to Hanoi in 1972 were somewhat ambiguous I still believe with all my heart that her visit was indeed treasonous and and certainly hurtful to all of us who were in Vietnam. I find it difficult to believe Snopes because they are a liberal institution. I have spoken to some of our brave ex-POWs who were there at the time of Ms Fonda’s visit and have confirmed some of the incidents were true. I honestly believe Ms Fonda is not sincere with her apologies and only spurned by the Hollywood hype. Sorry Ms Fonda, you don’t get off that easy with hollow apologies performed by your acting abilities. No Oscar here.

I've got a pic of the bitch in the center of my dartboard huddling with the commies in Vietnam.

I served in Vietnam both as a soldier and as a civilian contractor from 1970 to 1973. We all went over there with the intention of finishing that war and bringing peace to Vietnam. Jane Fonda went over there with the intention of finishing that war and bringing peace to Vietnam. Jane Fonda left Vietnam. The United States military left Vietnam. The war is finished and there is peace in Vietnam. God Bless America. Each and every one of us.

Yeah right. And 50,000 bodies also left Vietnam because of the cowardly efforts of LBJ, Walter Cronkite, and Jane. If that war for fought the way a war should be fought, the death toll would have been extremely lower and Vietnam would not have become a communist country as it is today.

I too was in Vietnam.......USMC 1970.....Many of us pacifists,hawks & in between were misinformed and young & ignorant......."Let it Be".........................

How many American military personnel got killed because of her visit to Hanoi? As
apposed to President Johnson's continuation of the conflict? I was in Da Nang in late
'62 and early '63. A young Vietnamese fan of Kennedy's told me it didn't make a squat
of difference to the people in the boonies who won the conflict. Their lives wouldn't
change one way or the other.

I believe all this research & read her statements. I was in the USN serving on a destroyer in Vietnam 1965-1967. Regardless of all her spin & that of the media, what's done is done. She can't un-do what she did. The optics were terrible & in my opinion, traitorous & disloyal! No self respecting VN vet will have anything but contempt for her!

As a Vietnam veteran, I still have a deep disrespect for what many consider traitorous acts.

I was in nam in 65 and 66 two tours one on a ship and one on a patrol boat when I heard about her in north Vietnam and what she was doing i hated her never watch her again and never will she is a traitor and always will be i have no use for her

I watched the television news in horror as Fonda sat atop a Vietnamese antiaircraft gun, mounting it joyously, as if it were a lover. She was 33 years old, hardly a ‘young activist.’ She now has an estimated net worth of $200,000,000. She has never made an unqualified apology for her treasonous actions and has done nothing in atonement. Kent State has 41,000 students and could offer each a tuition break of $2000 with the money they pay Fonda for her brief appearance. The May Commemoration Advisory Committee must be comprised of fools and traitors.

Having been sent to Vietnam, willingly or not is irrelevant. Jane was used as we all were. At least n her heart I assume her intention was to help our troops.That she was used for propaganda from the enemy might not have been her intention, and obviously led to her notoriety. We still read about her in the news as a human rights advocate. What does disturb me is that Gen William Westmoreland,among others responsible for our safety and the war, admitted that there actions were wrong. What recently bothered me was the fostering of hatred. Hatred gets us nowhere. In a Visit to a VFW, in the mens room are pictures of Jane in the urinals. I have been subjected to indignities, there should be no place in American society for hatred.

Friends and brothers died in Viet Nam because of what she did when she visited there. You can rewrite history as in this article, but it is not how it happened. She betrayed those men in that prison and they paid dearly after she left. She was a traitor to this country, period and she should pay dearly for what she said and did over there.

Jane Fonda is a disgrace to the USA. She should have been kicked out of the USA back then and

James, Vietnam 1967 - 1968

I was on a Destroyer off the coast of

in 1962 escorting a aircraft carrier that was unloading Heleocopters to Da Nang air base.If the American Legon ever accepts Fondas apology Iwill leave it and I am a member for 35 years

Although I am a AF vet and served in Asia, I am not a Vietnam combat vet and strongly feel an infinity with those men who had to endure the propaganda fest offered by Hanoi Jane. She betrayed her country and especially those who risked their lives on its behalf. Damn her!

Potatoes, Patatoes...A horse by any other color is still a horse. Tell Hanoi Jane to stay away.

Treason should be shot.
Hanoi Jane. No good Bitch

I disagree about the Kent State shooting being the turning point against the Vietnam war. I believe there was no greater influence then that of Walter Cronkite telling the American people a lie that we lost the battle of the Tet Offensive and it was hopeless to let our soldiers continue to get killed. The fact of the matter is we won that battle. The major obstacle the whole time we were in Vietnam was the obsession of LBJ and McNamara to do anything to keep Russia from getting involved. They already were involved resulting in many more soldiers getting wounded or killed only because our military was not permitted to go on the offensive. A profoundly negative strategy that resulted in a loss of lives that should never have happened.

We all did things in our youth we probably regret. However, there is no forgiveness for a traitor. People like her crave publicity - good or bad. Shame on you for giving it to her.

She was a Traitor then, and will always be.

The Heathens "apology " will never be accepted by RVN war Vets. If the American Legion attempts to promote or accept her, it will find itself with a loss of membership it cant even imagine. POWS MIA's YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

Here's an idea of the kinds of students now at Kent State:

Student protesters block Homeland Security table at Spring Internship, Co-op and Career Fair
Sara Crawford, assigning editor
Gershon Harrell, reporter
Maddy Haberberger, TV2 reporter Feb 20, 2020
With arms linked, backs to the Department of Homeland Security’s table, student protesters held up signs saying “no human is illegal” and “abolish ICE.”

Therefore, this decision to allow her to speak does not surprise me.


I agree that Jane Fonda should have been locked up. Served Vietnam 1968 - 1970.

Jane Fonda can't erase her treason from history or the hearts and minds of the US servicemembers serving in Vietnam during her performance.

Bull shit Fonda was and is a traitor and a disgrace to America and the American soldier she still should be kicked out of America and her name abolished from record.

At seventeen I enlisted in the US Army Reserve Corps. After being activated, I served in Viet Nam. I remember the Kent State Disaster very well and the Jane Fonda incident. I fought for the right for every person to have the right to freedom of speech. I may not agree with the content but I would fight to the death to ensure that this right can not be abridged or sanctioned. Many may disagree with my position, remember, they have the same right to freedom of speech they are complaining about. Blackfriar

I enlisted out of high school and was a US Navy Corpsman between 1969 and 1973. I well remember having urine thrown on me while wearing my uniform as was required (at the time) when off base in downtown San Diego. In my hindsight opinion, Jane Fonda’s actions helped foster the general disgraceful abuse and harassment of military service members who were targets of their anti war sentiments within the country.

this is what she deserves

may she be fruitful and multiply

History was revised by a responder in this venue.
Nixon was blamed for the war and for the destruction that the war brought on humanity.
Truth is:
Eisenhower started with advisories, Kennedy expander on that, Johnson and a Democrat congress approved the funding and mass build up of the troops for 6 years and Nixon ended it.
People show there bias when they don’t study history. And it shows their stupidity.
I still can’t watch a Jane Fonda movie.
25th inf 70/71

As a Nam vet I may not agree with Fonda’s words but I will always defend her right to speak her mind.

Just read the comments and decide for yourself. Not getting a penny from me. Vietnam Army 68-69

I did not like Jane nor do I listen to her now. what she did was stupid, but look around and you see as much or more stupidity now. Do some research on the candidates for president. How people could vote for someone who has NEVER had a job, lived off the government , abandoned a girl he got pregnant, never paid any child support , went to Russia on his honeymoon, said Cuba and N Korea had great health care and education systems, so tell me who is stupid.
How Kent States committee could invite her is beyond me. It would be interesting to get in front of that committee. Talk about stupid.

What a shame. All these years later (53 for me) & that war still stirs such visceral reaction. I have spent many an hour trying to make sense of it all, to no avail. Let it go, my brothers. We are all united in our love for these United States. I am proud of my service in Vietnam (10/67-9/68) even if the VA gives it no value since I don't have a CIB. Proven by the question they ask: "Combat Action?" The VFW & Legion are in lockstep with the VA. I drank & bathed in the same waters as you in Vietnam. Breathed the same air as you. Handled the same defoliants as you. And fighting the same cancers as you since 1991. G-d Bless America! Land that I love! I would do it all again!!

It was my luck to receive my full discharge from the USMC on 4 May 1970, I was also a resident of Ohio at the time. Being able to use the GI Bill was a big plus but the nearest collage was Kent State. At that time being a veteran of the War in Viet Nam was not the best place to be, when I heard about the shooting that evening on the news, my first thoughts were in support of the National Guard.
As time and the news continued I discovered that not all of the victims were protesters, one was a ROTC student going to his next class. I still feel that the Guard being called out in light of the damage done the previous day was necessary. These were some difficult times and opinions can change over time. When I returned from Viet Nam in 1968 to Cleveland Ohio, I was insulted because of my service and that had a negative impact on my thought process. I did not agree with the protesters as I felt I was doing what JFK asked," ask not what your country will do for you but what you will do for your country."
I joined the USMC on 4 May 1964 and today I am still proud of my service. Semper Fi


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.