Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / June 27, 2000

So’..sometimes a simple apology is just not enough. Especially one thattook nearly 30 years to come about.

Americans are a forgiving bunch of people. We enter into wars with folksthat we end up supporting like a big brother after we pound them into rubble. Even when they start it, we forgive them. We forgave the Japanesefor bombing Pearl Harbor and killing over 2,000 of our guys in a single sneak attack. And now they’re buying up our businesses and properties andwe’re buying their cars and electronics and pouring money into their economy like we’ve been the best of friends forever.

It’s interesting to note, however, that following the war the United States charged and successfully prosecuted one Iva Toguri, a Los Angeles native and UCLA graduate who found herself in Japan at the onset of hostilities.

She, along with 20 or so other women, became the radio personality known as Tokyo Rose. She would broadcast radio propaganda to our troops in thePacific Theater, feeding them information slanted to the Japanese point of view, information that was intended to cripple the morale of our side.

Since she was the only one of the 20 or so women who was actually an American she was prosecuted for treason, which our Constitution partially defines as giving aid and comfort to the enemy. She finallyreceived a pardon from Pres. Gerald Ford in 1976, even though she hadgenerally been forgiven by the American people long before because, like I said, we’re a forgiving bunch.

So, why do you suppose it is that Americans of my generation, at least the men of my generation who didn’t burn their draft cards or run away to Canada, won’t just up and forgive Jane Fonda? My next question is a doozy as well. Why wasn’t Jane Fonda tried fortreason? If you’ll recall, in 1972, Jane Fonda went to North Vietnam and did everything in her power to give aid and comfort to the enemy. Shemade radio broadcasts in North Vietnam denouncing our government. Justlike Tokyo Rose. And she earned a nickname that would stick with her tothis day, just like Tokyo Rose stuck to Iva Toguri.

Hanoi Jane.

A real killer was when she posed on that anti-aircraft gun with regular North Vietnamese troops. She was even wearing an NVA (North VietnameseArmy) helmet and looking through the gunsight as if looking for an American fighter plane. One that would be manned, by the way, by someother American’s son, husband, or father.

And now she wants to apologize. Or rather, she’s already apologized. Shesaid that she would “go to her grave” regretting that photograph. She’s nowsaying she’s sorry.

Because it “hurt so many soldiers” and that it was just such a horrible thing for her to do. And, being the sensitive guy I am, I’d like to reply tothat.

Well, DUH.

I’ve always detested idiots and elitist idiots hold no special status in my book. Jane Fonda was a rich spoiled brat who was so out of touch withreality – and she still is, by the way – that she really thought what she was doing was right. She actually thought it would be okay to climb onthat anti-aircraft gun and pretend to be looking at an American target while other Americans died just a few miles away. And now, after almost30 years, she wants to apologize.

Well, Hanoi Jane, on behalf of many of us who were in an infantry uniform at the time and looked at that picture with horror, let me say this: Apology not accepted, Zippy.

Jane Fonda’s little act in 1972 should have won her a trial for treason instead of an Oscar.

Is that a bit harsh on my part? Maybe. But what she did was no differentthan what the infamous Tokyo Rose of World War II did, and it landed her in prison. Was the war in Vietnam wrong? Sure. I’m not saying it wasn’t.So, you want to know why we still have a hard time forgiving Jane Fonda? Because those kids who died or were physically or psychologically crippled over there didn’t start the shameful thing and most didn’t have the elitist opportunity to avoid it like Hanoi Jane and her rich friends.

They had to go, and they did. They didn’t have the luxury or, in most casesthe money, to protest. And most of us wouldn’t flee to Canada because ourfamilies would have never forgiven us. Actually, I still wonder how manyfled to Canada out of genuine political conviction and how many fled because of cowardice disguised as such. Just as our families would havewondered had we done so.

We can’t forgive Hanoi Jane because she gave no thought to the real guys who were fighting and dying very close to where she was jauntily perched on that enemy gun. To her, they were just a political idea, not real people.So, nope. Sorry. Apology not accepted. But, you say you’ll go to your graveregretting what you did, Hanoi Jane? Okay. We can live with that.

LEE DRESSELHAUS writes this column every Wednesday for L’Observateur.

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