’Hanoi Jane’ Leads Newsom and Schwarzenegger Against Oil Drilling

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Commentary

Jane Fonda always will be “Hanoi Jane” to me. I can’t forget her attack on America’s brave fighting men during her 1972 trip to Hanoi in communist North Vietnam.

As she was photographed sitting in a North Vietnamese Army anti-aircraft gun, my future brother-in-law was a U.S. Marine on his second combat tour. A few years earlier, a cousin was a U.S. Air Force intelligence sergeant going on missions over North Vietnam, and might have been shot down by that very gun. Both survived the war.

Actress Jane Fonda visiting Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 25, 1972. (STF/AFP FILES/AFP via Getty Images)
Actress Jane Fonda visiting Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 25, 1972. (STF/AFP FILES/AFP via Getty Images)
That’s why it was frustrating how Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined Ms. Fonda in her latest leftist political cause. As the Los Angeles Times fawningly headlined, “What do Schwarzenegger, Fonda and Newsom have in common? They’re fighting oil drilling.”

The story begins: “As the oil industry wages a multimillion-dollar campaign to repeal California drilling restrictions, the campaign to defend the state’s environmental protections is starting to resemble a Hollywood blockbuster.

“In a showcase of political clout and celebrity influence, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and actor Jane Fonda joined Gov. Gavin Newsom and environmental advocates Friday in Los Angeles to call on voters to rescue Senate Bill 1137, a state law that intends to ban new oil and gas drilling within 3,200 feet of homes, schools and parks next year.”

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By “rescue,” they mean defeat a November initiative that would repeal SB 1137, and which the oil industry spent $20 million to put on the ballot.

Pampered Multimillionaires

Meanwhile, the state law’s effect on actual Californians who will lose their jobs in the industry, or never get those middle-class jobs in the first place, is of no concern to the trio of multimillionaire, pampered opponents.

Then governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger (L) and actress Jane Fonda at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 24, 2010. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Then governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger (L) and actress Jane Fonda at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 24, 2010. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Mr. Schwarzenegger’s fortune clocks at $450 million. Fandomwire reported a year ago he sold his Bugatti Veyron for $2.5 million, making a $1 million profit. Its twin eight-cylinder engines produce 1,000 horsepower. Fuel Economy pegs its fuel “economy” at 8 mpg in the city, 15 on the highway. It’s one of the biggest gas-guzzlers ever heard of. Yet Mr. Schwarzenegger doesn’t want Californians working in good, middle-class jobs drilling for that liquid gold.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Mr. Newsom is the pauper of the three, worth only $20 million. The Daily Mail reported, “Gordon [Getty] and his brother Paul—the sons of oil magnate J. Paul Getty—went to school with Gavin’s father, Bill Newsom II, spending most of their childhood at the Newsom’s home due to their own parents’ absence. Gordon considered Bill’s father William as a father to him.

“Bill Newsom became a judge and later managed the Getty family trust on behalf of Gordon, which is estimated to be worth more than $2 billion.”

The family fortune derived from patriarch J. Paul Getty’s founding of Getty Oil in 1942 and in 1957 was named by Fortune magazine the wealthiest living American.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Ms. Fonda’s fortune is $200 million.

Hanoi Jane in Hanoi

Ms. Fonda has given an apology, sort of, for her outrageous, and some say treasonous, actions when she traveled to Hanoi in 1972 during one of the most critical times in the Vietnam War. She wrote on her website: “There is one thing that happened while in North Vietnam that I will regret to my dying day—I allowed myself to be photographed on a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. …

“I hardly even thought about where I was sitting. The cameras flashed. I got up, and as I started to walk back to the car with the translator, the implication of what had just happened hit me. ‘Oh my God. It’s going to look like I was trying to shoot down U.S. planes.’ I pleaded with him, ‘You have to be sure those photographs are not published. Please, you can’t let them be published.’ I was assured it would be taken care of. I didn’t know what else to do. (I didn’t know yet that among the photographers there were some Japanese.)

“It is possible that it was a set up, that the Vietnamese had it all planned. I will never know. But if they did I can’t blame them. The buck stops here. If I was used, I allowed it to happen. …

“But the photo exists, delivering its message regardless of what I was doing or feeling. I carry this heavy in my heart. I have apologized numerous times for any pain I may have caused servicemen and their families because of this photograph. It was never my intention to cause harm. It is certainly painful for me that I, who had spent so much time talking to soldiers, trying to help soldiers and veterans, helping the anti-war movement to not blame the soldiers, now would be seen as being against our soldiers!”

Note she apologized “for any pain I may have caused servicemen and her families,” not for her actions themselves.

Ms. Meredith wrote: “Her messages broadcast over the communist propagandist Radio Hanoi changed how the American troops perceived the political will of the United States from the beginning of the war to its latter stages. Fonda’s words to the American POWs and servicemen embodied the inextricable connection between public support from the home front and the war effort overseas. Her statements against American prisoners-of-war and active pilots were so devastating that the North Vietnamese used them as a propaganda tool to deflate the morale of the American troops. The iniquitous legend of ‘Hanoi Jane’ continues because Jane Fonda caused irreparable emotional damage to Vietnam veterans.”

Actress and activist Jane Fonda (R) meets American prisoners of war in Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 20, 1972. (-/AFP via Getty Images)
Actress and activist Jane Fonda (R) meets American prisoners of war in Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 20, 1972. (-/AFP via Getty Images)

Jane Fonda and the POWs

Ms. Fonda wrote on her website: “It is unconscionable that extremist groups circulate letters which accuse me of horrific things, saying that I am a traitor, that POWs in Hanoi were tied up and in chains and marched passed me while I spat at them and called them ‘baby killers.’ These letters also say that when the POWs were brought into the room for a meeting I had with them, we shook hands and they passed me tiny slips of paper on which they had written their social security numbers. Supposedly, this was so that I could bring back proof to the U.S. military that they were alive. The story goes on to say that I handed these slips of paper over to the North Vietnamese guards and, as a result, at least one of the men was tortured to death. That these stories could be given credence shows how little people know of the realities in North Vietnam prisons at the time. The U.S. government and the POW families didn’t need me to tell them who the prisoners were. They had all their names. Moreover, according to even the most hardcore senior officers, torture stopped late in 1969, two and a half years before I got there.”

Ms. Meredith quoted Michael Benge, a civilian working for the U.S. Agency for International Development who was captured in South Vietnam by the Viet Cong and was in a Hanoi prison in 1972. He said: “When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her. I said yes, for I would like to tell her about the real treatment we POWs were receiving, which was far different from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by Jane Fonda, as ‘humane and lenient.’ Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees with outstretched arms with a piece of steel re-bar placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane every time my arms dipped.”

Ms. Meredith also quoted David Hoffman, whose plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1971. He said: “The torture resulted in a permanent injury that plagues me to this day. When Jane Fonda turned up, she asked that some of us come out and talk with her. No one wanted to. The guards got very upset, because they sensed the propaganda value of a famous American war protestor proving how well they were treating us. A couple of guards came to my cell and ordered me out. I resisted, and they got violently angry. My arm had been broken when I was shot down, and the Vietnamese broke it a second time. It had not healed well, and they knew it caused me great pain. They twisted it. Excruciating pain ripped through my body. Still I resisted and they got more violent, hitting me and shouting, ‘You must go!’ … I was dragged out to see Fonda. I decided to play the role. I knew if I didn’t, not only would I suffer—but the other guys would be tortured or beaten or worse.”

Communist Vietnam Drilling for Oil

After the Hanoi communist regime took over the whole country in 1975, it had a falling out with its major sponsor, the Chinese communist regime in Beijing. They even fought a war in 1979. Now they’re disputing control of oil-rich ocean areas and islands.

Reuters reported from Beijing on January 24, “The Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday said China’s claims to the Paracel and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea were backed by ‘history’ after Vietnam over the weekend repeated it had sufficient evidence to claim sovereignty over the islands.”
On Feb. 22, Radio Free Asia reported, “China Coast Guard ship 5901, known as ‘The Monster’ for its size, has returned to the waters near Vanguard Bank in the South China Sea, where Vietnam has some important oil and gas fields.”

Ironically, the regime Ms. Fonda helped take over all of Vietnam now is drilling big time for oil, even as she works to end drilling in California. Why doesn’t she go back to Hanoi and demand the drilling there stop?

Another irony is the U.S. has cozied up to the Hanoi regime as both face rising belligerence from Beijing. President Joe Biden, who received five draft deferments to avoid being sent to fight in Vietnam, last September visited Hanoi. The White House Fact Sheet read, “President Joseph R. Biden and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong Announce the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.”

Conclusion: Still ‘Not Fonda Jane’

In the 1970s and 80s, conservatives slapped bumper stickers on their cars with such slogans as, “I’m Not Fond’a Hanoi Jane.” That’s still my opinion and why I can’t watch any of her movies. She later got deeply involved in radical California politics when she married state Sen. Tom Hayden, a former leader of the far-left Students for a Democratic Society.

Mr. Schwarzenegger no longer holds an elected office. But Mr. Newsom, looking longingly at the Oval Office, may regret his association with Ms. Fonda. It also wouldn’t surprise me if pro-oil drilling campaigns used Ms. Fonda as a poster girl against Mr. Newsom and his opposition this fall.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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