Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jane Fonda Is Back

 
It's about time. Jane Fonda spoke at the Washington rally for peace yesterday. She said "I haven't spoken at an anti-war rally for 34 years. But silence is no longer an option." Jane is right. Silence is no longer an option. We need to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many of us will remember when "Hanoi Jane" visited North Vietnam in 1972. Is it time for her to visit Iraq?

[Photo Credit: According to Wikipedia "This photograph was shot by a public affairs officer of the Peoples Republic of Vietnam, and released worldwide for distribution."]

17 comments :

  1. One of my low moments of the 1980s (or early 90s, can't remember) was when Jane apologized for Hanoi and said it was the wrong thing to do.

    She should have stuck with her guns. Or anti-aircraft ack ack artillery, or whatever. She should have apologized for Barbarella first, at least.

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  2. Yeah, I still remember when the traitorous bitch laughed with the gun crews that were killing American airmen.

    She is the lowest kind of scum.

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  3. waldteufel said...

    Yeah, I still remember when the traitorous bitch laughed with the gun crews that were killing American airmen.

    She is the lowest kind of scum.

    As opposed to the American airmen who were carpet bombing villages and crops with Napalm and Agent Orange?

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  4. As opposed to the American airmen who were carpet bombing villages and crops with Napalm and Agent Orange?

    I can't speak for those airmen, and I doubt you can either. But if I had to guess, I would say that they probably didn't think too much about the targets they were asked to hit with their bombs. One of the lines I remember most from a novel I read a long time ago, Flight of the Intruder, by Stephen Coonts (who flew combat missions in Vietnam). An intelligence officer goes to congratulate the protagonist on the dozens of "NVA" he killed on his last mission. He gets angry at the officer and says, "What makes you think I would want to know that?"

    Undoubtedly, Mr. Coonts, like the character he wrote, knew that his bombs killed innocent civilians along with the enemy. Faulty intelligence, bombs missing their target, or just people being in the wrong place at the wrong time could cause that to happen. And even when it was just enemy soldiers being killed, they were still human beings, whether the war itself is justified or not. The airmen simply put their trust in their superiors and the system so that they could get on with the business of surviving. If that trust was misplaced, it was no fault of theirs.

    Soldiers do their jobs as they are trained to do and hope that they will live to return to their families and deal with the guilt and pain of lost friends. You only have those rights you are willing and capable of defending. So I applaud those willing to make sacrifices to serve in a military that defends our rights for us. The small handful of soldiers that do ugly things in war do not take away from my respect for the rest of them.

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  5. Jasontd says,

    Soldiers do their jobs as they are trained to do and hope that they will live to return to their families and deal with the guilt and pain of lost friends. You only have those rights you are willing and capable of defending. So I applaud those willing to make sacrifices to serve in a military that defends our rights for us. The small handful of soldiers that do ugly things in war do not take away from my respect for the rest of them.

    Nicely said. I'm not sure where you're coming from on this issue. Can you answer a question about respecting soldiers?

    Do you share the same respect for the soldiers of your enemy? For example, in World War II do you respect the soldiers of Germany and Japan who were fighting to defend what they thought were their "rights?" (Don't forget that the vast majority of German soldiers knew nothing about the mass murder of Jews, and they didn't want to know.)

    And how does your sentiment translate into respect for soldiers who participate in a war of agression, such as Iraq? Does your respect for these soldiers hinge on a definition of "defending our rights?" If so, could you share that definition with us 'cause a lot of us don't see how your rights are being defended in the streets of Baghdad.

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  6. My question was primarily rhetorical. Someone who calls Jane Fonda "the lowest kind of scum" for laughing with "the gun crews that were killing American airmen" seems to be engaging in the worst kind of special pleading. What, were the Vietnamese just supposed to take our carpet bombings up the ass and be done with it?

    I know wholeheartedly that soldiers do what they're told and face severe punishment for disobeying orders as it is understood as mutinous insurrection. I also respect those in the military who honestly wish to defend their country and their freedoms (but I do note that not all wars fought by the U.S. could realistically have anything to do with our "freedoms") But still, the tribalism of waldteufal is incredibly offensive and simplistic to boot.

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  7. tyler,

    I agree that how waldteufel expressed his opinion was out there, but your rhetorical question made it sound like you were calling the servicemen themselves scum, which is what I took exception to. I'm glad you clarified your position.

    Larry,

    Actually, I do have respect for all soldiers who have the courage to defend what they believe to be right and manage to retain their humanity in spite of being in situations where they must kill other human beings. I really want to see the Eastwood movie about the Japanese side of Iwo Jima. Everything I have read says that it really humanizes people Americans were taught to hate during the WWII.

    As for that respect extending to soldiers fighting a war of agression, I think my above statements answer that. German and Japanese soldiers certainly were fighting a war of agression. I don't think anyone of any political stripe can argue with that, yet I still respect the ones who fought with what could be called honor.

    As for my opinions on the Iraq war itself, that's more complex than I have time to write about right now. I'm already running a bit late. I'll finish by saying that the reason I decided to reply to this thread is that I believe that Jane Fonda was right to apologize for what she did way back then. I feel that it showed disrespect for the soldiers of her country. I'll stand up for anyone's right to protest against those that send our soldiers to fight, but they should respect those soldiers themselves.

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  8. OK, I'm going to chime in very very briefly.

    I am absolutely tired of the conflation of "support" or respect for soldiers (or troops) and support for a policy. This conflation is a political tactic of the worse kind. It should never be allowed. I am absolutely tired of it.

    It is interesting and pleasing to see that this tactic is currently being deconstctructed to a large degree on Capitol Hill in DC.

    It is the reason that many anti-war Democrats (and probably republicans) voted for the war in the initial vote that everyone still calls "the most important vote ever" (which is sad because it was also one of the most stupid and irrelevant votes ever ... While Jane Fonda was bravely going where not actor has gone before Richard Nixon was busy consolidating the power of the presidency with regards to war.)

    My point being that many powerful Democrats and some Republicans have to start delinking these concepts now for their own political survival. It's about time.

    My only comment on Hanoi Jane:

    I was very young during the Viet Nam war but very involved. All my sibs were activists, I was precocious in politics. I worked for Kennedy, McGovern, McGovern again, and so on.

    You have to understand the mentality of a man who is with his buddies in a fox hole and a hand grenade flies in and he throws himself on it.

    Once you understand that mentality then you can understand what wen on in the minds of a few friends of mine and I when we grabbed the State and US flaggs off the poles in front of an undisclosed location and gave the state plolice a run for their money during an anti-war demonstration, or the mentality of a group of protest organizers cheering when they hear a bomb go off in a vacant public building during a protest, or a famous actress doing a career-ending move of going to Hanoi to commune with the North Vietnamese.

    When you know the war is wrong, wrong, wrong, and people are dying to save the political face of a corrupt man like Nixon (who remember stole many of the votes for his election) and your government goes evil on you, it makes you want to throw yourself on a hand grenade.

    If it was not for the protesters, including the extreme end, think who would be in power right now and how things would be run????

    Thank you Jane for taking the flank on that one.

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  9. In no way, shape, or form do I intend to link "support the troops" with support for the war itself. Nor do I see how what I said would suggest that I do think that.

    I just would like to avoid the kinds of venom directed at some Vietnam vets when they got home that should have been directed at their superiors and/or politicians. Including a guy who lost most of his arm and had someone ask if he lost it in Vietnam, only to have the guy say, "Serves you right," when he said yes. (That story comes from a friend of Stephen Coonts, the author I mentioned above.)

    Stand up for what you believe in regards to the war, I applaud you for that. But don't misplace blame for what you see as bad policy and don't rely on morally questionable tactics. I was 2 years old when the U.S. troops pulled out of Vietnam, so I can't speak with authority on the issue, but I highly doubt that extreme action forced the Nixon administration's hand. I'd be more likely to believe that it was moderate majority that had had enough of the war that did the job of ending it. Extremists who do outrageous or violent acts in protest only satisfy their own outrage, they won't convince someone more rational and moderate of their position.

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  10. jasonmtd:

    I was not implying that you were liking support for troops with position on war. Actually, I don't think anyone here was.

    By the way, I was there. I was one of the many people who were NOT being nasty to the vets, who included many of my close friends, etc.

    Data have been collected. Studies have been done. Memories have been investigated. The crap that happened to a small number of the vets has been exaggerated and over blown.

    I am certain that the crap that happened to long haired hippie freaks such as myself walking by any construction site, police station, etc. was FAR MORE common and FAR MORE outrageous than anything that peace activists EVER handed out to the vets coming home down at the bus station.


    When it comes to what forced Nixon out of the war, you are guessing here, and guessing wrong. Extreme action is exactly what got us out of the war, it is now known. History has spoken. The anti-war activists ended the war.

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  11. Is this the kind of extreme action you are referring to? "...or the mentality of a group of protest organizers cheering when they hear a bomb go off in a vacant public building during a protest"

    What does it say about American society if you are right and these types of actions are what tipped the scales and forced us out of the war? There was always the chance that someone innocent who wasn't supposed to be in the building at the time got hurt or killed. We have a right to free speech in this country, not freedom to destroy property to make our point. I already admitted that I wasn't there and that I can't speak authoritatively as to what those times were like. But I know what kind of world I want to live in now. That world is one where people only express their political opinions peacefully and rationally. Maybe it's a dream world, but that's what I would like us to strive for.

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  12. Jason,

    I totally understand your point but here is something you young'uns have to understand.

    You get to live in a country where you don't have to go to the mat and spill your own blood or the blood of others because people in the 60s and 70s pushed these protests to the edge.

    And the protesters of the 60s and 70s only had to push to the edge and not too much beyond because the civil rights protesters of the 50s and 60s were hung by the neck until dead from trees in the south, had their bones broken with fire hoses and had the dogs set on them. Many many died in those protests.

    But they only had the limited casualties they had because union organizers died in the streets of Minneapolis and otherr places, and WW I soldiers who protested that the War Department was withholding their pay were machine gunned by US soldiers in a public park in Washington DC, and in prior decades mine workers were trapped in their homes and burned to death because they wanted a union ...

    And so on and so forth...


    And, we did it all while walking six miles through the snow to school and back every day, uphill in both directions.

    My point is that public protest (such as "please, sir, I don't want to be a slave any more" or "Husband, why do you get the vote and not I" was NOT tolerated at one point in this country.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court has indeed held judges willing to legislate from the bench. Fortunately the right to assemble is no longer infringed as it once was. We made them let us protest, and they often said no and we did it anyway. Now it is routine to get a permit to march or stand around and hold your signs. In the old days our signs served two purposes: One to get a message across, the other to cover your head when the mounted police rode into the fray.

    If that was the situation now you might see the burning of the occasional police car as a reasonable compromise.

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  13. You're right. I hadn't thought of it that way, and I know enough history that it should have occurred to me. Thanks for helping me understand your position better. See what rational discussion can get you? ;)

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  14. Rational discussion, yes. Though I feel like I was ranting a bit ....

    I was actually inspired to write more post on Jane Fonda and the Viet Nam War etc. and iut should be coming up on my blog in about 40 minutes.

    I've got it scheduled to happen when I'm a the gym .... this is going to be messy...

    Cheers,

    Greg

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  15. jasontd asks,

    What does it say about American society if you are right and these types of actions are what tipped the scales and forced us out of the war?

    It says that societies are very reluctant to change and they sometimes need a poke in the eye to get them to sit up and take notice.

    It's not just American society, the same thing happens in Canada, the UK, and every other society.

    And don't think that violent protest is ancient history and can't happen again. It wasn't that long ago when there was rioting in the streets of Los Angeles or at the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle.

    As long as govenments get out of step with the will of the people there's going to be some who take a stand. Right now there are governments conducting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan that is extremely unpopular. Don't be surprised if some protests become violent.

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  16. Larry,

    On the ancient history thing: Violent protest can't be ancient history or sub-violent protests would have absolutely no meaning!

    I do think the overall level of violence in western society has dropped decade by decade (or maybe quarter century by quarter century) over time. The prospect of troops of your own government opening fire on your own people used to be routine, but is not considered to be totally outrageous, for example.

    But yes, it is like one of those climate change wiggles: While there may be a trend there is a lot variation and a certain amount of unpredictability.

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  17. It is truly depressing to serve in Iraq-- twice... and come home to such armchair general nonsense.

    As for the despicable actions of Hanoi Jane, I suggest you ALL read "Aid and Comfort" by Henry Mark Holzer.

    I will always give credit where credit is due, and at least she's griping on American soil and using her 1st Amendment rights. She's not over in Iraq posing for a photo op with Shia militias to be aired on Al-Jazeera.

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