The Corner

The Return of Hanoi Jane

Jane Fonda’s most famous film clip isn’t a scene from Klute or On Golden Pond or even one of those workout videos. Instead, it’s that 1972 appearance behind a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. On Monday night, she explained to Larry King that nutty right-wingers are the source of her subsequent reputation as a Commie dupe:

JANE FONDA: No, it’s about the myth, you know, why it is that 300 people went to North Vietnam, people, many people before me, why me, why have they created this myth? You know, when I came back from North Vietnam, there was maybe a quarter of an inch of media about it in the New York Times. Nobody made any big deal out of it. It was created, and some people are stuck-

LARRY KING: By critics?

FONDA: By right wingers. There are some people who are like stuck there, you know, they’re still stuck in the past. I always want to say, “Get a life,” or, you know, “Read what really happened,” you know. The myths are now true.

Get a life? This doesn’t sound like the woman who once tried to express remorse for her actions. In 1988, she appeared on 20/20. Here’s a summary from AP:

“I was trying to help end the killing,” Fonda said in an interview with Barbara Walters. “But there were times I was thoughtless and careless about it and I’m … very sorry that I hurt them. And I want to apologize to them and to their families.”

For a lot of veterans, her apology came 16 years too late. Yet she did apologize, at least for the specific act of appearing behind the anti-aircraft gun. (As she also tried to make clear, she did not want to apologize for the totality of her anti-war activism.) Better late than never, right?

Well, Fonda apparently wanted not just forgiveness, but also forgetfulness–because now, if even a softball-tosser like Larry King ventures anywhere near the subject of what she did in North Vietnam, nobody is treated to anything like the appearance of sincere regret. Instead, we get Hanoi Jane, ready to scold. Did you hear her, Vietnam vets? Get a life.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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