The Powerful Are Going After Jane Fonda Again

The more things change, well readers get the drift here. Jane Fonda, the accomplished actor and protester, who protests right outside of the idiot-in-chief’s door these days on the pressing issue of environmental ruin, is being tormented once again for an act of protest during the Vietnam War era.

Ohio’s secretary of state, Frank La Rose, doesn’t want (“Sec of State LaRose doubles down after Tweet regarding Kent State University speaker,” WHIZ, February 19, 2020) Fonda to deliver a speech (“Actress Jane Fonda to speak at 50th anniversary of Kent State University shooting,” CantonRep, February 10, 2020) at the 50th anniversary of the Kent State University massacre of May 4, 1970. The reason: The media photographed Fonda sitting on an anti-aircraft gun during a visit to North Vietnam during the US war there. The Ohio secretary of state is going bullshit over this perceived insult to Vietnam veterans. When will this insanity end? When will this so-called “noble cause” (Ronald Reagan) be laid to rest? The university seems not to get it in all cases since it named a former CIA agent, a professor at Kent State, as the chairperson of the campus 50th anniversary commemoration of the massacre until an uproar against that appointment turned the situation around. Salon also reported on the so-called controversy about Jane Fonda speaking at Kent State (“Ohio’s GOP secretary of state calls on Kent State to cancel commemoration speech from Jane Fonda,” February 19, 2020).

Now, Ms. Fonda may have acted in a way that reflected her youthfulness when she sat of the gun. I don’t know, but we all have done things for which hindsight was not available, especially as part of a cohort of the youth of America during the Vietnam War era. Readers may recall that along with a relative pittance paid by the state of Ohio for the killing of four students and the injuries done to nine others, then governor of Ohio, James Rhodes, called the protesters Brown Shirts. J. Edgar Hoover, with his twisted countenance and COINTELPRO, said that the protesters got what they deserved, while Nixon, a mass murder in Vietnam by any account, called them bums, and the governor of California, the Great Communicator Reagan, said earlier that if it takes a bloodbath to stop protest over the Vietnam War, then the nation should get on with it. Readers might conclude that not much has changed in the 50 years since Vietnam.

Students in 1970 protested the expansion of the war in Southeast Asia into Cambodia, despite Nixon’s so-called “secret” plan for peace. The war in Cambodia had been secretly going on for sometime, but it was the announcement by Nixon in late April 1970 that the US had officially expanded the war that brought the already vibrant and massive peace movement onto the streets across the US and onto the campus of Kent State. The students at Kent State were killed by members of the Ohio National Guard following an order that was documented on a tape recording during the demonstration there.

Between three to five million Southeast Asians died in that war along with about 58,000 from the US. Vietnam was turned into a shooting gallery by the US with documented mass atrocities happening regularly. In fact, there were hundreds of massacres like My Lai during the so-called American War, compete with free-fire zones, strategic hamlets (read small concentration camps), carpet bombing, the use of incendiary bombs against civilians, mass spraying of the herbicide Agent Orange, and the routine burning of peasant villages (“Vietnam Horrors: Darker Yet,” Los Angeles Times, August 6, 2006). No reparations were ever paid to the government of Vietnam and the people of Vietnam for this wanton bipartisan destruction. The US and its allies paid reparations in Europe and Japan following World War II. I guess that Nazis, fascists, and militarists are more deserving of relief than communists and nationalists fighting for the freedom of their nation? I guess that those same mass murders were more deserving then the families of the murdered and wounded at Kent State and later at Jackson State University.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).