Jane Fonda- North Vietnam


(Public Domain Information)

Hotel Especen; Hanoi-Vietnam :: 7 APR 95, 1911 hours:

Transcript from the US Congress House Committee on Internal Security, Travel to Hostile Areas, HR 16742, 19-25 September, 1972, page 7671.

(Radio Hanoi attributes talk on DRV visit to Jane Fonda from Hanoi; in English to American servicemen involved in the Indochina War, 1300 GMT, 22 August 1972.

Text: Here's Jane Fonda telling her impressions at the end of her visit to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam;)

(recorded female voice with American accent follows);

This is Jane Fonda. During my two week visit in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, I've had the opportunity to visit a great many places and speak to a large number of people from all walks of life--workers, peasants, students, artists and dancers, historians, journalists, film actresses, soldiers, militia girls, members of the women's union, writers.

I visited the (Dam Xuac) agricultural coop, where the silk worms are also raised and thread is made. I visited a textile factory, a kindergarten in Hanoi. The beautiful Temple of Literature was where I saw traditional dances and heard songs of resistance. I also saw unforgettable ballet about the guerrillas training bees in the south to attack enemy soldiers. The bees were danced by women, and they did their job well.

In the shadow of the Temple of Literature I saw Vietnamese actors and actresses perform the second act of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, and this was very moving to me--the fact that artists here are translating and performing American plays while US imperialists are bombing their country.

I cherish the memory of the blushing militia girls on the roof of their factory, encouraging one of their sisters as she sang a song praising the blue sky of Vietnam--these women, who are so gentle and poetic, whose voices are so beautiful, but who, when American planes are bombing their city, become such good fighters.

I cherish the way a farmer evacuated from Hanoi, without hesitation, offered me, an American, their best individual bomb shelter while US bombs fell near by. The daughter and I, in fact, shared the shelter wrapped in each others arms, cheek against cheek. It was on the road back from Nam Dinh, where I had witnessed the systematic destruction of civilian targets-schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories, houses, and the dike system.

As I left the United States two weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the American people that he was winding down the war, but in the rubble-strewn streets of Nam Dinh, his words echoed with sinister (words indistinct) of a true killer. And like the young Vietnamese woman I held in my arms clinging to me tightly--and I pressed my cheek against hers--I thought, this is a war against Vietnam perhaps, but the tragedy is America's.

One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I've been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he'll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo-colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. One has only to go into the countryside and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led before the revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only strengthens their determination to resist.

I've spoken to many peasants who talked about the days when their parents had to sell themselves to landlords as virtually slaves, when there were very few schools and much illiteracy, inadequate medical care, when they were not masters of their own lives.

But now, despite the bombs, despite the crimes being created--being committed against them by Richard Nixon, these people own their own land, build their own schools--the children learning, literacy--illiteracy is being wiped out, there is no more prostitution as there was during the time when this was a French colony. In other words, the people have taken power into their own hands, and they are controlling their own lives.

And after 4,000 years of struggling against nature and foreign invaders--and the last 25 years, prior to the revolution, of struggling against French colonialism--I don't think that the people of Vietnam are about to compromise in any way, shape or form about the freedom and independence of their country, and I think Richard Nixon would do well to read Vietnamese history, particularly their poetry, and particularly the poetry written by Ho Chi Minh.

[recording ends]


[I do not know who wrote the following, so therefore credit cannot be given.]

It is often said that Hanoi Jane apologized for her treachery. She didn't. Any true apology goes something along the lines of "I was wrong, please forgive me." What follows below is a lame rationalization for her actions and a statement that she is sorry to have hurt someone, not that she was wrong in hurting them.

The Apology?

In the early 1970s, Jane Fonda and her partner Tom Hayden were in the forefront of the visible anti-war movement.  Both were very involved with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and were a force behind the Winter Soldier Investigation of alleged American war crimes. In 1972 both traveled to Hanoi.

In 1988, some 16 years after her tour of Hanoi when she made her famous radio broadcast and had her picture taken behind the same anti- aircraft guns that were shooting down US pilots, Jane Fonda appeard on 20/20 and was interviewed by Barbara Walters.
Two versions of this interview exist, one an actual transcript, the other a press release.

The transcript reads:

Barbara Walters: "There are still people who . . . I guess feel you have never apologized.
Would you like to just say something to them now?"

Jane Fonda:"Well . . . it's not . . . I would like to say something not just to . . . the Vietnam veterans . . . in New England . . . but . . . to . . . to men who were in Vietnam who . . . who I hurt . . . or who's pain I caused to . . . deepen because of things I said . . . or did . . . I . . . I feel that I owe them an apology . . . my intentions were never to hurt them . . . or to make their situation worse, it was . . . it was the contrary . . . I was trying to help end the war . . . but there were times when I was thoughtless and careless about it and I . . . and I am very sorry . . . that I hurt them . . . and I want to apologize to them and to their families . . . ."

This was released to the media as:

I would like to say something, not just to Vietnam veterans in New England, but to men who were in Vietnam, who I hurt, or whose pain I caused to deepen because of things that I said or did," Fonda said.

"I was trying to help end the killing and the war, but there were times when I was thoughtless and careless about it and I'm . . . very sorry that I hurt them. And I want to apologize to them and their families."

In both versions, there is a direct reference to the veterans in New England and this points to the reason for the timing of the apology.

At the time, Fonda was filming "Stanley and Iris" on location in a number of blue-collar New England towns. Production on the movie was being severely disrupted by protesting veterans and this was causing a serious problem for the film. Fonda decided that something had to be done, so she went on 20/20.

The difficulty still remaining for many vets is the nagging doubts about the apology. Was it a sincere effort to atone for a now recognized hurt, or was it merely a cynical attempt to solve crippling production delays? The timing of the apology allows for the inference of a self-serving motivation. Ms. Fonda had 16 years to consider the results of her actions. On the other hand, perhaps the protests themselves made her more aware of how deeply many veterans resented her actions in 1972.

Only Ms. Fonda knows for sure.

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