News reports indicate that this week, about twelve Vietnam veterans and other protesters picketed the theater Broadway theater where Jane Fonda, 71, is starring in the Broadway play “33 Variations,”
In 1988, Fonda admitted to former American POWs and their families that she had some regrets, saying this in a 1988 interview with Barbara Walters:
“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. 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…. I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft gun, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless…”
My analysis: Many people want to bury their youthful mistakes. I must say that I admire Fonda’s willingness to discuss this hot topic and admit her errors. Having visited the American Embassy in Vietnam, myself, in 1996, I know first-hand the importance of honoring our soldiers for their sacrifices in that troubled region. I’ve awarded 3 stars for Fonda’s 1988 apology. In that statement, she did an exceptionally good job of expressing her regrets and admitting her mistakes. In a sign of sincere repentance, she looked towards the future and indicated that she will always carry the burden of her mistakes with her.
In a 60 Minutes interview on March 31, 2005, Fonda reiterated that she had no regrets about her trip to North Vietnam in 1972, with the exception of the anti-aircraft gun photo. She stated that the incident was a “betrayal” of American forces and of the “country that gave me privilege”. Fonda said, “The image of Jane Fonda, Barbarella, Henry Fonda’s daughter … sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal … the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine.” She later distinguished between regret over the use of her image as propaganda and pride for her anti-war activism: “There are hundreds of American delegations that had met with the POWs. Both sides were using the POWs for propaganda… It’s not something that I will apologize for.” Fonda said she had no regrets about the broadcasts she made on Radio Hanoi, something she asked the North Vietnamese to do: “Our government was lying to us and men were dying because of it, and I felt I had to do anything that I could to expose the lies and help end the war.”