Sunday, November 13, 2005


Lefty Rick Perlstein has written a "review" of Jane Fonda’s War: A Political Biography of an Anti-war Icon by Mary Hershberger that's really a 4,600+ word revisionary rehabilitation of Jane Fonda's anti-war activities. The review is just begging to be Fisked but I have neither the time nor the inclination for that at the moment, so I'll concentrate on two examples of Perlstein nonsense.

According to Perlstein, Americans in general, and the US military in particular, are Fonda obsessed:
You don’t know America if you don’t know the Jane Fonda cult. Or rather, the anti-Fonda cult. At places where soldiers or former soldiers congregate, there’ll be stickers of her likeness on the urinals; one is an invitation to symbolic rape: Fonda in her 1980s ‘work-out’ costume, her legs splayed, pudenda at the bulls-eye. Every night at lights-out midshipmen at the US Naval Academy cry out ‘Goodnight, bitch!’ in her honour. They’ve learned, Carol Burke writes in her study of military folklore, Camp All-American, Hanoi Jane and the High-and-Tight, what you learn at all the service academies: ‘that being a real warrior and hating Jane Fonda are synonymous.’
Hmm, I was active duty USN for five years starting in the late 1970s and can't recall anyone being overtly concerned with Jane Fonda's activities. And how could I forget it if I had seen even a single urinal sticker inviting me to rape. (I suspect what Perlstein sees as an obsession is simply a reaction to recent attempts to rehabilitate Fonda's image.)

About 2/3 into the review Perlstein discusses the state of mind of the Americans being held by the North Vietnamese:
By the time Fonda visited pows in Hanoi in 1972, many more were ‘playing ball’. Using the evidence of their senses, they had turned against the war – especially the bombing war that they, as captured pilots, had themselves prosecuted. Hershberger argues convincingly that ‘by 1971, as many as half of the officers in Hanoi were openly disillusioned about the war.’ Two months before Fonda went to Hanoi, and weeks after the most brutal bombing raids on North Vietnam since the spring of 1968, a group of pows sent a letter to ‘the United States Congress and to all Americans’ demanding a negotiated settlement to end the war. Stockholm Syndrome? Perhaps to some extent. Certainly not torture. These were college-educated, accomplished men, leaders, in a unique position to evaluate the assumptions of the American bombing strategy on its own terms – which were that it would destroy the will of the enemy and make possible an orderly American retreat. ‘No bombing of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam serves to make the withdrawal of American forces any safer,’ they wrote: ‘it only makes it more likely that they cannot be withdrawn at all’ and ‘risks the death and capture of many more Americans, as well as endangering the lives of those already held captive’.
Statements issued by POWs are routinely assumed to have been coerced. American POWs were tortured – more on that later. Anyway, they were in no position to make meaningful comment on the course of the war; they were in prison and had access only to that information the North Vietnamese saw fit to provide – it must be neigh on to impossible to maintain a balanced perspective when you're constantly fed only one point of view. In short, the POWs were political pawns. Who wouldn't be disillusioned with a war that had gotten them captured and held in god-awful conditions?

I strongly suggest you read Perstein's rewrite of history and then read Snopes's balanced and concise treatment of Fonda. Here's an excerpt:
The most prominent example of a clash between private citizen protest and governmental military policy in recent history occurred in July 1972, when actress Jane Fonda arrived in Hanoi, North Vietnam, and began a two-week tour of the country conducted by uniformed military hosts. Aside from visiting villages, hospitals, schools, and factories, Fonda also posed for pictures in which she was shown applauding North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gunners, was photographed peering into the sights of an NVA anti-aircraft artillery launcher, and made ten propagandistic Tokyo Rose-like radio broadcasts in which she denounced American political and military leaders as "war criminals." She also spoke with eight American POWs at a carefully arranged "press conference," POWs who had been tortured by their North Vietnamese captors to force them to meet with Fonda, deny they had been tortured, and decry the American war effort. Fonda apparently didn't notice (or care) that the POWs were delivering their lines under duress or find it unusual the she was not allowed to visit the prisoner-of-war camp (commonly known as the "Hanoi Hilton") itself. She merely went home and told the world that "[the POWs] assured me they were in good health. When I asked them if they were brainwashed, they all laughed. Without exception, they expressed shame at what they had done." She did, however, charge that North Vietnamese POWs were systematically tortured in American prison-of-war camps.

To add insult to injury, when American POWs finally began to return home (some of them having been held captive for up to nine years) and describe the tortures they had endured at the hands of the North Vietnamese, Jane Fonda quickly told the country that they should "not hail the POWs as heroes, because they are hypocrites and liars." Fonda said the idea that the POWs she had met in Vietnam had been tortured was "laughable," claiming: "These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed." The POWs who said they had been tortured were "exaggerating, probably for their own self-interest," she asserted. She told audiences that "Never in the history of the United States have POWs come home looking like football players. These football players are no more heroes than Custer was. They're military careerists and professional killers" who are "trying to make themselves look self-righteous, but they are war criminals according to law."
And, if you haven't read it before, here's an excerpt from John McCain's experiences as a POW:
Every two hours, one guard would hold McCain while two others beat him. They kept it up for four days.

Finally, McCain lay on the floor, a bloody mess, unable to move. His right leg, injured when he was shot down, was horribly swollen. A guard yanked him to his feet and threw him down. His left arm smashed against a bucket and broke again.

'I reached the lowest point of my 5 1/2 years in North Vietnam,'' McCain would write later. ''I was at the point of suicide.''

What happened next is chronicled in The Nightingale's Song, by Robert Timberg:

''(McCain) looked at the louvered cell window high above his head, then at the small stool in the room. He took off his dark blue prison shirt, rolled it like a rope, draped one end over his shoulder near his neck, began feeding the other end through the louvers.''

A guard burst into the cell and pulled McCain away from the window. For the next few days, he was on suicide watch.

McCain's will had finally wilted under the beatings. Unable to endure any more, he agreed to sign a confession.

McCain slowly wrote, ''I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors.''

He would never forgive himself.
McCain wrote shit because he was forced to; Perlstein writes shit because... I guess because he believes it. Either that, or he's one lying mother fucker. No matter what, lefties are pathetic.


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