The Vietnam War was a tough time for America. We lost family, friends, loved ones. No one who was touched by the “conflict’ would call it America’s better days. It was a lot of bad news and bad outcomes.
But there were thousands of men and women who believed in the uniform, and in the oath we still take today: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” Some of those true patriots were held in POW camps, and they suffered things that nightmares are made of. Some didn’t make it. Others came home changed. For most, the person who left these shores is gone forever, in one way or another.
There were many civilians who were in positions to provide comfort to those so imprisoned, who had a chancee to help. One person in particular springs to mind who had an opportunity to make a difference, maybe even to save lives, but did not. Instead she decided to become a traitor.
This week I read that Jane Fonda is being honored by the USC School for Dramatic Arts.
“The Robert Redford Award for Engaged Artists honors an individual who has used his or her fame to significantly bolster public awareness of important social issues,” Madeline Puzo, dean of the USC School of Dramatic Arts, said in a statement Monday morning.
“It is our hope that this award will inspire students to be socially engaged in their lives and through their art.”
I happened across that information online. It made me think back on the many ways in which Fonda has been honored over the years, and the many blessings she has enjoyed thanks to this country, and those who fight for it.
Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term aid and comfort refers to any act that manifests a betrayal of allegiance to the United States, such as furnishing enemies with arms, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information. If a subversive act has any tendency to weaken the power of the United States to attack or resist its enemies, aid and comfort has been given.
How can we yet, and to this day, still not apply that definition to Jane Fonda?
She was honored in 1999 as one of many women featured in a Barbara Walters special for ABC News called “A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women,” which looked at the “most inspiring, intriguing and entertaining” women of the 20th century. It was actually based on a list of the “100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century.” And now, she has a new book out about finding one’s identity as a teenager, and here is what she had to say to Matt Lauer: “By identity, I mean your values, your beliefs, what you like and don’t like, how you treat others, and how you treat yourself”.
But we all know already what Fonda found her identity to be. We saw it as she pranced about with the enemy while our men and women were dying in fields and suffering in camps. We know that identity, and it is defined above.
For just one example of what Fonda’s “identity” led her to, here is an excerpt from a letter Michael Benge wrote in 1999 in protest of Fonda’s being included on Barbara Walters’ list.
“At one time, I was weighing approximately 90 lbs. (My normal weight is 170 lbs.). We were Jane Fonda’s ‘war criminals.’ When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with Jane Fonda. I said yes, for I would like to tell her about the real treatment we POWs were receiving, which was far different from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by Jane Fonda, as ‘humane and lenient.’
Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees with outstretched arms with a piece of steel rebar placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane every time my arms dipped. Jane Fonda had the audacity to say that the POWs were lying about our torture and treatment.
Ms. Fonda went on to say she was sorry for, wait for it, “being photographed with North Vietnamese soldiers” during a 2005 interview with Lesley Stahl for CBS’ “60 Minutes.” No, not for failing to use her celebrity to help young men and women who were being tortured and humiliated, not for failing to speak out, but simply because she was caught on camera!
And now she is being held up as an example for young people on how to be “socially engaged” and use their fame to do good in the world. Hollywood lost its understanding of the word outrageous a long time ago.
Ms. Fonda, who are you to write on how we treat others, who are you to tell us about mental and emotional milestones that are part of going into adulthood. And who are you to be honored for using your fame for good?? You turned your back on some of America’s greatest heros. I say you have no grounds, madam.
Jane Fonda has never been held accountable for her actions. Though voices have been raised in protest since her betrayal, she has suffered nothing more than hurt feelings, a punishment I’m sure her Hollywood brain thinks is way worse than the sin she committed. Fonda has been honored and honored and is being honored again. Her artistic achievements give her a free pass, and the millions of dollars she has amassed have given her the priveliged and comfortable life she enjoys to this day.
But when I see her name, or when my Vietnam veteran father sees it, be it for a new book or for an acting award, we remember who she is. We know the identity she chose. And I hope no one ever forgets.