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Chapter 10 - Hating Jane Fonda Doesn't Help

Yeah, I know what she did. Yeah, I know the difference between opposing the war and giving aid and comfort to the enemy while the armed forces of my country are engaged in combat. No, I find no excuse for the defenseless acts that are memorialized in those gross photos of Ms. Fonda in a North Vietnamese AA Battery position making nice with the gun crew,
Jane Fonda with Hanoi gun crew    Jane Fonda with Hanoi gun crew in 1972
or the broadcast interview she made at the end of her two week Hanoi visit. see: Jane Fonda 1972 Hanoi Visit.
As disturbing as these events were and are to many of us, it is time to reexamine our response to them in the light of the nearly four decades that have passed since they took place.

Although one often sees in writing that Ms. Fonda did not apologize for her stupid and harmful actions, she did so in public on two occasions. The problem is that both of these occasions seem to be less than complete apologies, and were made under conditions that appear to be self-serving. The best discussion of Ms. Fonda's alleged crimes is to be found in the website, which presents both sides of the story together with references to supporting documentation. The link is: Hanoi'd with Jane. The last entry in that article describes an incident in 2005 in which a Vietnam vet spat tobacco on Ms. Fonda at a book signing. My heart goes out to that vet. Can you imagine the load that he carried around for over 30 years that caused him to do what he did? Anger and hatred are heavy burdens, and as long as you carry them they take their toll on you. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that you should forgive Jane Fonda because she deserves it. As Clint Eastwood pointed out through the character Will Muny in The Unforgiven, "deserving has nothing to do with it." The reason I have forgiven Ms. Fonda, and LBJ, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary McNamara, and the countless others who sent me to Vietnam so that I could kill a bunch of brown people, is that I am no longer willing to pay the freight for all the baggage that it takes to carry around so much anger and hatred.

Perhaps more importantly, it was necessary for me to forgive all those who were or could have been blamed for the suffering that my Vietnam combat experience caused me before I could get around to the more difficult and more important task of forgiving myself for my role in it. This will be the subject of my next chapter. As for Ms. Fonda, call her "the pig" if you must, take out the patch that you stuck in your drawer that looks something like this one, Hanoi Jane patch and then put that stuff away in the closet where your youngest grandchild won't find it and take it to his mother. Jane Fonda isn't worth your time or your trouble, and hating her gives her way too much power over you.

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Last updated on September 6, 2011