In connection with an honorarium paid to Jane Fonda as one of ABC’s “100 Women of the Century,” on or around September 14, 2,009, Barbara Walters stated on The View, “I hope that we have all forgiven Jane Fonda for what she did during the Vietnam War and specifically when she visited the Hanoi Hilton.”
Regarding this, many readers left comments. I downloaded eleven. Of the eleven, one defended Ms. Fonda because “she was a kid” at the time. Another asked, why was the issue being talked about again now? Nine wrote in the vein that Ms. Fonda committed treason and cannot be forgiven, despite her apology many years after the Vietnam War ended.
I am in agreement in principle with those nine.
We all know what Ms. Fonda did: Her disgraceful words to our soldiers, her shameful conduct toward their captors, her servile allegiance to values and ideals that our Founding Fathers rejected when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
Is there any excuse we might consider in Ms. Fonda defense? Can those who take the side of the enemy in time of war be defended or excused?
Given the Leftist influence on our government-run education system, given the Leftist influence in the media, it’s certain that Ms. Fonda was as much a victim of collectivism as she was a perpetuator of it. Yet I and countless other Americans, were subjected to the same Leftist influences in government-run public education, and Left-leaning media. We did not accept the view that Communism was superior to individualism. We did not like the idea of our men fighting a war that was not in our interests. We did not like them dying so that politicians could pose as “against communism.”
Some point out that Ms. Fonda was “only 18” at the time, too young to know differently. Too young, or too thoughtless? If too young, the fact is that many of us were as young as Ms. Fonda was at that time. But they did not take the side of the enemy. Neither did we burn our flag, although we were opposed to the draft. Nor did we spit at our policeman and call them “pigs.” We did not interrupt speakers or yell indecent epithets at them, or refuse to allow them to speak at all. We, too, were not happy that our men were sent to foreign lands to die and/or linger in heinous conditions. But we did not turn on our soldiers, chastising them for fighting a disagreeable war.
Neither education nor age is the deciding factor here. What, then, was the difference between Ms. Fonda and us?
Ideas. The ideas Ms. Fonda acted upon. The ideals, principles and values that Ms. Fonda accepted and which guided her actions.
The consequences of Ms. Fonda’s ideas was to denounce American soldiers and POWs, to call them liars because they reported being tortured and beaten, to spitefully chide suffering American POWs with questions such as “are you proud to have killed babies?”
Consider what this nation’s ideals are: No man is above the law. Freedom and justice for all under the law. Habeas corpus. Innocent until proven guilty. A jury of one’s peers. The sentence of guilt to fit the crime. Debtor’s prison outlawed. A division of powers. A limit on presidential terms. The Constitutional freedom of speech, assembly, worship and press.
Consider this nation’s basic principles: individual rights, limited government and free markets. Consider this nation’s fundamental ruling values: Reason. Purpose. Self-reliance. Self-confidence. Individualism. Lifting oneself up by the bootstraps. The work ethic of “a better mouse trap”—i.e. think of a better way to do something and work like the dickens to achieve it—and putting your “nose to the grindstone.”
What are the Communists ideas Ms. Fonda extolled? Man must live for the state. The state knows best. No one may descent from government decree. All rulers are above the law, exempt from the laws all citizens must follow. All citizens are without rights. The government has total control over everyone and everything: how many babies one may have, where one may work, what one may study, where one may live, what meetings one must attend, the able must support the indigent, how many acres of land may be farmed, how many cars may be produced, and so forth. All this Ms. Fonda accepted and fought for against a government that stood for the opposite.
Ms. Fonda acted in exact accordance with the ideas she accepted. She damned those who fought against totalitarianism. She condemned those who did not accept the rule of brute force. She insulted the loyalty and bravery of free men who chose to protect the innocent against the savagery of dictatorship.
We are asked to forgive Jane Fonda. I do not. Moreover, I consider Barbara Walters’ “hope” as abysmally lacking in thought as Ms. Fonda’s actions during the Vietnam War.
Another joins these two: the individual who left the comment: “Why the heck was this year old post bumped?” This is the same sort of question savages ask about the Holocaust: “Why bring up that old stuff?”
One reason alone: Lest we forget and forgive those who err beyond reason.
Yes, Ms. Walters comment took place about 2 years ago. Yes, Ms. Fonda’s actions took place almost 50 years ago. But like the Holocaust, one does not forgive those who acted upon the ideas that made possible such grievous evils.
There is a postscript to this exposition: Why was this two-year old Barbara Walters statement revived? My opinion is that the boiling anger many of us feel against Mr. Obama’s actions to change this nation into a collectivist welfare state reminded someone of what such a state means in practice. It means the ideas of Hanoi Jane in charge of us while our best and bravest and most productive are imprisoned, regulated, controlled and ultimately destroyed. We must not allow this to happen.