Jewish World Review April 18, 2005 / 9 Nisan, 5765
See Jane run
The reemergence of Jane Fonda is causing a bit of angst,
especially among some of the 2.4 million Americans who served in Vietnam.
The liberal actress is selling a biographical book and stars in an upcoming
movie with Jennifer Lopez. CNN has given Ms. Fonda almost as much airtime as
the pope, and there is anger in the air.
In July of 1972, Jane Fonda arrived in Hanoi and began a
two-week tour that was used as propaganda by the North Vietnamese. Fonda
made 10 radio broadcasts denouncing some Americans as "war criminals." Of
course, no North Vietnamese or Viet Cong were cited as such by her.
She also tried to convince some American POWs to deny they had
been tortured. Captured airman and present senator John McCain has called
her actions "reprehensible."
Facing an unpopular war, the Nixon administration declined to
prosecute Ms. Fonda, who went on to achieve great wealth and fame in the
movies and by selling exercise videos to women. She remains a liberal icon.
In July of 1941, Iva Toguri arrived in Tokyo from Los Angeles.
An American citizen, she wanted to study medicine in Japan, where she had
family. When war broke out with America five months later, Iva voluntarily
stayed in Japan and soon began a new job: broadcasting propaganda on
She was called "Tokyo Rose," and she was some piece of work.
Most of her vile words were aimed at American military personnel in the
Pacific. A 1944 broadcast went this way: "Hello, boneheads. This is your
favorite enemy. How are all you orphans of the Pacific? Are you enjoying
yourselves while your wives and sweethearts are running around with 4Fs in
After Japan was defeated in 1945, Iva Toguri was jailed in Tokyo
unrepentant. She even signed autographs "Tokyo Rose." Four years later, she
was convicted of treason and spent seven years in a West Virginia federal
Interestingly, Toguri was pardoned by President Ford in 1977.
She is believed to be still alive in Chicago.
So is there a difference between Iva Toguri and Jane Fonda?
Certainly the scale of Toguri's crimes was much greater. Fonda gave aid and
comfort to the enemy for two weeks, Toguri for nearly four years. Also, the
necessity of World War II was far different from the controversial Vietnam
Yet many Americans still believe Jane Fonda's actions were
treasonous and only the politics of the time saved her. President Nixon had
huge problems in Vietnam and on the homefront. To prosecute an anti-war star
like Fonda would have caused a major uproar.
My take on the situation is this: Jane Fonda was and remains a
naive, easily led person who is desperate to please those who accept her. If
you believe her own words, she has led a very unhappy life and, watching her
on television, I almost felt sorry for her. Even in softball interviews the
woman was strident and on edge. Her inner turmoil is clearly printed on her
surgically smooth face.
That said, I understand the bitterness that many people have
toward Ms. Fonda. But what goes around comes around. Her actions did hurt
brave Americans trying to survive on the brutal killing fields of Southeast
Asia. Fonda says all she wanted was peace and that's why she did it. But,
ironically, Jane, herself, has known little peace since that time. Her life
has been a series of marital disasters, self-inflicted diseases and
estrangement from her daughter.
So, when you think about it, Jane Fonda has served a life
sentence of sorts. Compared to her, Tokyo Rose might have gotten off easily.
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