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.


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She was a loser- and still is

The Traitorous Bitch Hanoi Jane should have been tried for corroberating with the enemy and rotting in prison!

she sucked back then and she still sucks!! I agree with James she should be deported from this country she is a traitor and I haven't watched any of her movies, and to think I had a crush on her back in the day.

"we know you guys will hate Snopes" - I think you are missing the point. Snopes is a Leftist propaganda medium. What ever Snopes verifies they verify with a Leftist point of view. Snopes has a Progressive Agenda so every thing they publish presents facts or omit facts in such a way to aid the Progressive movement. I do not recommend clicking on that site.

I have heard many times that some would like to know where she will be buried so they can give her all the respect she deserves by urinating on her grave.


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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.