[Marxism] Jane Fonda - The Truth About My Trip to Hanoi

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 23 14:11:56 MDT 2011

Jane Fonda - The Truth About My Trip to Hanoi

I grew up during World War II. My childhood was influenced by the roles my
father played in his movies. Whether Abraham Lincoln or Tom Joad in the *Grapes
of Wrath*, his characters communicated certain values which I try to carry
with me to this day. I remember saying goodbye to my father the night he
left to join the Navy. He didn’t have to. He was older than other servicemen
and had a family to support but he wanted to be a part of the fight against
fascism, not just make movies about it. I admired this about him. I grew up
with a deep belief that wherever our troops fought, they were on the side of
the angels.

For the first 8 years of the Vietnam War I lived in France. I was married to
the French film director, Roger Vadim and had my first child. The French had
been defeated in their own war against Vietnam a decade before our country
went to war there, so when I heard, over and over, French people criticizing
our country for our Vietnam War I hated it. I viewed it as sour grapes. I
refused to believe we could be doing anything wrong there.

It wasn’t until I began to meet American servicemen who had been in Vietnam
and had come to Paris as resisters that I realized I needed to learn more. I
took every chance I could to meet with U.S. soldiers. I talked with them and
read the books they gave me about the war. I decided I needed to return to
my country and join with them—active duty soldiers and Vietnam Veterans in
particular—to try and end the war. I drove around the country visiting
military bases, spending time in the G.I. Coffee houses that had sprung up
outside many bases –places where G.I.s could gather. I met with Army
psychiatrists who were concerned about the type of training our men were
receiving…quite different, they said, from the trainings during WWII and
Korea. The doctors felt this training was having a damaging effect on the
psyches of the young men, effects they might not recover from. I raised
money and hired a former Green Beret, Donald Duncan, to open and run the
G.I. Office in Washington D.C. to try and get legal and congressional help
for soldiers who were being denied their rights under the Uniform Code of
Military Justice. I talked for hours with U.S. pilots about their training,
and what they were told about Vietnam. I met with the wives of servicemen. I
visited V.A. hospitals. Later in 1978, wanting to share with other Americans
some of what I had learned about the experiences of returning soldiers and
their families, I made the movie *Coming Home*. I was the one who would be
asked to speak at large anti-war rallies to tell people that the men in
uniform were not the enemy, that they did not start the war, that they were,
in growing numbers our allies. I knew as much about military law as any
layperson. I knew more than most civilians about the realities on the ground
for men in combat. I lived and breathed this stuff for two years before I
went to North Vietnam. I cared deeply for the men and boys who had been put
in harms way. I wanted to stop the killing and bring our servicemen home. I
was infuriated as I learned just how much our soldiers were being lied to
about why we were fighting in Vietnam and I was anguished each time I would
be with a young man who was traumatized by his experiences. Some boys shook
constantly and were unable to speak above a whisper.

It is unconscionable that extremist groups circulate letters which accuse me
of horrific things, saying that I am a traitor, that POWs in Hanoi were tied
up and in chains and marched passed me while I spat at them and called them
‘baby killers. These letters also say that when the POWs were brought into
the room for a meeting I had with them, we shook hands and they passed me
tiny slips of paper on which they had written their social security numbers.
Supposedly, this was so that I could bring back proof to the U.S. military
that they were alive. The story goes on to say that I handed these slips of
paper over to the North Vietnamese guards and, as a result, at least one of
the men was tortured to death. That these stories could be given credence
shows how little people know of the realities in North Vietnam prisons at
the time. The U.S. government and the POW families didn’t need me to tell
them who the prisoners were. They had all their names. Moreover, according
to even the most hardcore senior officers, torture stopped late in 1969, t*wo
and a half years before I got there.* And, most importantly, I would never
say such things to our servicemen, whom I respect, whether or not I agree
with the mission they have been sent to perform, which is not of their

But these lies have circulated for almost forty years, continually reopening
the wound of the Vietnam War and causing pain to families of American
servicemen. The lies distort the truth of why I went to North Vietnam and
they perpetuate the myth that being anti-war means being anti-soldier.

Little known is the fact that almost 300 Americans—journalists, diplomats,
peace activists, professors, religious leaders and Vietnam Veterans
themselves—had been traveling to North Vietnam over a number of years in an
effort to try and find ways to end the war (By the way, those trips
generated little if any media attention.) I brought with me to Hanoi a thick
package of letters from families of POWs. Since 1969, mail for the POWs had
been brought in and out of North Vietnam every month by American visitors.
The Committee of Liaison With Families coordinated this effort. I took the
letters to the POWs and brought a packet of letters from them back to their

full article - http://janefonda.com/the-truth-about-my-trip-to-hanoi/

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