Jane Fonda died for Nixon's sins

Last year, the Fonda cult allowed thousands, even millions of anguished veterans and their sympathisers to hold onto their shaky faith in American innocence, while acting as the conduit for the character assassination of the Democratic presidential candidate. ‘They’re the men who served with John Kerry in Vietnam,’ the announcer said in the notorious TV commercial produced by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. ‘And they’re the men who spent years in North Vietnamese prison camps. Tortured for refusing to confess what John Kerry accused them of . . . of being war criminals.’ The tropes come straight from the Fonda mythology. A doctored photograph was circulated (it showed up in several newspapers) showing Kerry on a speakers’ platform with Fonda. The picture was found to be a fake, but the association had already been planted. ‘John Kerry with Tits’: five syllables full of implications for the politics of gender, power and anxiety in America.

Interesting book covering all the Fonda angles on Vietnam. The short version is “Nixon manufactured her public image as Vietnam betrayer,” I guess.

The security establishment began its battle against Fonda almost as soon as she started speaking out. Teams of FBI informants reported her every word, combed her speeches for violations of the 1917 Espionage Act, which criminalises incitement to ‘insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny or refusal of duty in the military’, and ‘disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language about the form of government of the United States’. She proved a disappointment. Profanity was not her style. As for incitement, we learn from one informant – a chaplain’s assistant – that she thought it ‘would not help the cause of peace’. He added that nothing she said ‘could be construed to be undermining the US government’.

The government got desperate. At Cleveland airport the FBI arranged for her to be stopped at customs. During her interrogation she pushed aside agents who refused her access to the bathroom, so they arrested her for assaulting an officer. She had in her possession mysterious pills marked B, L and D, so they also charged her with narcotics smuggling – for carrying vitamins to be taken with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Her daughter was followed to kindergarten. (America needed to know: did her school teach ‘an anti-law enforcement attitude’?) They investigated her bank accounts. They tapped their network of friendly media propagandists, like the future Senator Jesse Helms, then a TV editorialist, who supplied an invented quotation that still circulates as part of the Fonda cult’s liturgy. Supposedly asked – it isn’t clear where or by whom – how far America should go to the left, she said, according to Helms: ‘If everyone knew what it meant, we would all be on our knees praying that we would, as soon as possible, be able to live under . . . within a Communist structure.’ A death threat against her was sent to Henry Fonda’s house with a demand for $50,000. He took the letter to the same FBI office that was directing the campaign against his daughter. ‘The FBI files reveal no effort to find the sender of the letter,’ Hershberger remarks.

The campaign appears to have been co-ordinated with the White House, and underway long before Fonda went to Hanoi. Hershberger is an assiduous researcher, but she could have got a better idea of the extent of this co-ordination by studying the Nixon Oval Office tapes at the National Archives. On 2 May 1970, Nixon told his aides that protesters were to be accused of ‘giving aid and comfort to the enemy’. On 9 May, Nixon’s enforcer Chuck Colson told the FBI to send its Fonda files directly to the White House. ‘What Brezhnev and Jane Fonda said got about the same treatment,’ an aide later recalled.

Why isn’t more oversight of the White House done?

In the wake of Nixon and Bush, shouldn’t we have LOTS of oversight?

I’m getting rather tired of fucked-up presidencies. A little oversight might go a long way.

Does it make any sense that an arm of government that is untrustworthy can send its own speaker out to give updates? What should we make of this “PR Rep”?

Given that the American People are presented with simplistic and severely lacking information on which to choose between only two people for President, I’d say we need a lot more oversight after that choice is made.

As someone who is an Air Force kid, who’s father was in Vietnam and who had friends of the family that I remember having dinner with at the house who were shot down and killed and who were held in incredibly inhumane North Vietnamese POW camps, I’m not buying the Jane Fonda was an innocent and her reputation is undeserved and made up by Nixon (who I hate pretty vehemently.) It was Fonda’s choice to go to North Vietnam and talk about what great people they were, to sit in an anti-aircraft gunseat all grins at the thought of shooting down U.S. planes, to make all the comments she made, etc. Was Nixon evil? Absolutely. Should they have investigated every little detail on her looking for dirt? Probably not, but it’s a pretty common practice for presidents to sic people to dig up the dirt on their enemies, whether it’s JFK, Nixon, Clinton, or Bush. Was Fonda responsible for her actions? Absolutely. Do Vets have a right to be pissed at what they saw her do? Yep.

I don’t know shit about the Jane Fonda/Vietnam thing, but I know enough not to trust Nixon, the Swift Boat guys, or urban legends about GIs getting beat up because they spit on her.

Snopes page on Fonda. I don’t doubt that Nixon’s goons spread false information and harrassed her, but it was framing the guilty in this case.

You know, it’s funny to look back on Vietnam and see it as closer to legal than the present war, if only slightly. (One could argue that the attempted American invasion of Vietnam was intended as a counterattack on North Vietnam’s invasion of South Vietnam, although such an argument requires either some wilful ignorance concerning the nature of the country’s partitioning or – for the less thoughtful – a pinch of jingo.)

So you started a thread on a subject you know nothing about quoting a book you haven’t even read?

Par for the course for P&R, no?

It’s an interesting piece of data the Nixon built a demonization campaign around here and tried to get her nailed for espionage/sedition before she’d done shit. Which I’m pretty goddamn sure Clinton never did, Jeff to the contrary.

LOL! You will never get me to equate Clinton being as evil as Nixon. My point was just that there is a lot of precedent for presidents having people tasked to trash the reputations of anyone who presents a major problem to the president.

Nixon was just evil. LBJ had a streak that was scary if you read some of the deep biographies of his rise to power through Texas politics. But he fell short of Tricky Dick’s level by a long shot. That said, trying to reform what Fonda did in those times is going to fall on deaf ears for me.

Poor Jane Fonda.

GIs getting beat up because they spit on Hanoi Jane? Where did you get this gem, because I’ve never heard it before.

Also if you don’t trust anything about Nixon, can we assume you don’t trust the SocSec Trust that he put in place to keep it from collapsing? :wink:
</just trolling there>

Jeff, “Jane did a lot of disasterous things from a PR perspective and was quite tasteless” is quite a bit different than the conventional wisdom, which is “Jane was a traitor.” One gets turned into the other by Nixon’s machine.

From the above linked Snopes article, on the question if Hanoi Jane is a traitor:

On the one hand, Jane Fonda provided no tangible military assistance to the North Vietnamese: she divulged no military secrets, she gave them no money or material, and she did not interfere with the operations of the American forces. Her actions, offensive as they were to many, were primarily of propaganda value only. On the other hand, Iva Ikuko Toguri (also known as “Tokyo Rose”) was convicted of treason for making propaganda broadcasts on behalf of the Japanese during World War II (although she claimed her betrayal was forced and was eventually pardoned many years later by President Gerald Ford), and Fonda’s efforts could fall under the definition of “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” It is also undeniable that some American soldiers came to harm as a direct result of Fonda’s actions, an outcome she should reasonably have anticipated.

Clearly Nixon is behind Snopes’ presentation of “on the other hand”.

It is also undeniable that some American soldiers came to harm as a direct result of Fonda’s actions, an outcome she should reasonably have anticipated.

Oh, bullshit. “Jane Fonda should have realized the POWs they showed her were beaten into doing it?” That’s the best they have?

As to the propaganda angle, last time I checked it was a free country.

OK, Jason? Non-sequitor, I guess, but would you quit putting quote marks around your paraphrases? The whole meaning behind quote marks is lost when you do this.

Plus it is disturbingly Koontz in style.

Nixon didn’t have to do anything to Fonda. I don’t recall her being thrown in prison for being a “traitor.” Her own words and actions were what got her branded by so many who lived through that time. The only thing that I remember from that time was what she did on her trip to North Vietnam, her hateful comments to all the Vietnam vets. Nothing that any Nixon machine generated. The “traitor” label was put on her by people who served in Vietnam, who had friends or family in Vietnam, who had sons or fathers who were killed or wounded in Vietnam, who watched her standing with inhumane North Vietnamese prison guards and officials while tortured and abused American POWs were paraded in front of her, while she declared any Americans claiming POWs were being tortured were liars, while she sat gleefully in an NVA AA gun, while she slandered all American soliders. Nixon’s machine didn’t do that, she did that, and I’m sorry if you’re so far removed from that era that you can’t understand the emotion she created in people who served in Vietnam or their relatives.

It is a free country, and she proved it. In many countries anyone who did that in the middle of a war would have been thrown in prison or worse.

Is “she was a horrible person during the war, and Nixon’s machine used the opening to make her a central focus” an impossible concept?

We need a new zombie thread. The old one died.

No. But that is a far cry from her being the victim in any way. That Nixon capitalized on her actions is bad, but it would not have been possible without her initial actions.

I don’t really believe in treason as a formal concept apart from actual military secrets or something like that. Otherwise it’s just a loaded word used to win arguments cheaply. I think the depth of Jane Fonda’s interaction with actual enemy military, not to mention direct propaganda efforts on their behalf involving American POW’s are sufficiently reprehensible to use the word in the casual, literal sense. Not for the purposes of sending her to prison or deporting her, but simply to call a thing what it is.

One who commits treason: “Violation of allegiance toward one’s country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one’s country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.” I fail to see where she does not meet that criteria. Perhaps that she was too stupid to know what she was doing? Either way, it should disqualify her from ever speaking credibly about American foreign policy, and further damaging the causes she claims to support.

You can tell Jason hates freedom because he is OMG GLD FRM3R.

Goddamn liberals ruin everything.