Bashing Jane Fonda has become a knee-jerk badge of identity in a lot of the Vietnam Veteran literature, and I think it is misdirected thinking. Unconditional loyalty to "Our Side"may look good at pep rallies and combat unit reunions, but at the national level it is precisely the difference between the mindless fanaticism we abhor in America and the defense of rational freedom we champion (which was why we were in Vietnam in the first place, right?).

For reasons I believed to support American ideals, I served in Vietnam as a gunship pilot and did some shooting. For reasons she believed to support American ideals, Jane Fonda went to Vietnam and did some talking. Whether or not I agree with her statements, I applaud her on two points.

First, she demonstrated to the world that America is not a dictated monolith in which the individual is forbidden to express views dissenting from those of the government, even in the enemy camp in time of war. That says something I respect deeply about my country.

Second, she personally risked her privileged social position, career, reputation (and judging from some of the hate mail, her life even today) in order to take a strong stand in the most important socio-political conflict going on in the world at the time. That is something I can respect in any individual.

As a combat veteran defending the action of Jane Fonda in her mission to Hanoi, I often have found myself at odds with some patriots like yourself for defending the use of our rights to make statements or take actions that make the USA look bad. Most Americans these days seem to think a puritanical authoritarian Federal government is better than a Bill-Of-Rights-defending libertarian republic, and they vote for more exceptions limiting those individual rights and greater centralized Federal power, with military law enforcement. I thought that was the kind of ideology we went to Vietnam to OPPOSE, and as proved by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc, only a fool would make public statements against that kind of government.

I would never wish to insult any of my brothers in arms who endured Hanoi, and I know their lives were hellish, but attempting to press notes on the girl was a very poorly thought-out act which placed her in a cruelly impossible situation. If she had made a show of refusing to take the note, the guy would have been busted on the spot. If she refused to surrender what her con-wise guards would no way ever overlook, or refused to be searched, and then was searched and the notes found, then she and the POW could have been charged with spying, creating world propaganda much more troublesome. The one thing that girl could not do was to try some kind of Jane Bonda stunt to smuggle those notes out of that country. To blame her for the NV's reaction to those prisoners' very improper behavior is an injustice.

Though trying to smuggle out the notes might seem the heartwarming thing to do, she was after all a guest of the NV government, to whom such would have been an affront. (How would you treat a visiting Commie who smuggled notes out of an American military prison while on a diplomatic tour with Mr. Cheney?)

The "aid and comfort" thing is one Constitutional point that gives me trouble. I'm all for terminating spies and such folks who provide info or ammo to an enemy -- "aid" -- but I do have trouble with the notion that a person who makes true statements about the feelings of many Americans, or personal opinions about America's policies, which happen to be "comforting" to an enemy should be declared guilty of the crime of treason. (Especially if the official pronouncements on the subject are blatantly untrue, as history has revealed many official statements those days were plausibly-deniable misinformation fabricated for the news-trusting citizen, a practice called "propaganda" when enemy governments do it.) I think it should be no crime to comfort anyone, especially people whose homes are being bombed because they refuse to vote for my country's candidates in their country's political process. Likewise, I think a medic who saves the life of a wounded enemy soldier is no traitor, though I'd call that aid and comfort. My opinions notwithstanding, the Constitution does say "aid and comfort" -- so perhaps it would still even after 30 years be a good idea to put the woman, and the idea, on trial.

You know, I do think spending a month in a tiger cage before visiting our POW's would no doubt have straightened that silly young lady's mind right out, and she might have accomplished a lot more with her brave (even if idiotic) use of a very powerful right to speak -- a right not many governments, and sadly, not many Americans think she, or WE, ought to have. I will always defend the right of Americans to speak their minds, even in the capitol city of an enemy nation in time of war, and no matter how stupid the things they say may be.

As for God. I don't want to burst your little bubble, but God is no respecter of persons, nor of churches, and certainly no respecter of political organizations, no matter how pretty their flags are. Your belief that God likes you better than His other children because you are an American or a Christian is called "bigotry" and is a blasphemy of the One God who loves us all.

Some folks think Jane Fonda a traitor because she went to the capitol of a country we were bombing without a declaration of war, in response to a falsified report of their attack on our ships in Tonkin Bay. She proclaimed (truthfully) that many Americans believed we should not be there, and that our attack on their people and our support of an unpopular pro-Pentagon government there was unjust and immoral.If Brittney Spears went to Kabul (it's in Afghanistan) and proclaimed that many Americans do not support our waging an undeclared war on all Afghans, Arabs, and Muslims in response to the attack of a small cult of religious martyrs, would she be a traitor?? If your answer is yes, how about Jesse Jackson? Is he a traitor too, or America's Great Christian Peacemaker?

James Nathan Post
"Lancer 17" B/101st Avn. Bn


A Novel Of The Vietnam War