from Womankind (1972) The IPC was a traveling roadshow that challenged the legitimacy of the SE Asia war. This story contains an interview with Jane Fonda. (Editor's note: The Indochina Peace Campaign was a traveling anti-war show that included Jane Fonda, Don Sutherland, Tom Hayden, Holly Near, Scott Camil(a leader of the Viet Nam Veterans against the War), and George Smith( a former POW.)
" Four years ago, I was floating around as Barbarella while there were women facing soldiers with bayonets at the Pentagon. "- Jane Fonda
Three years ago Jane Fonda took time out from Hollywood and traveled to Army bases around the U. S., talking to GIs. Last year, she was in North Vietnam reporting as an eyewitness on U. S. bombing of the dikes. Her most recent film is called FTA (“Free” the Army) and probably won’t be shown at your neighborhood theater. For the past few months, she has been touring the Midwest with the INDOCHINA PEACE CAMPAIGN. By now Barbarella must be in the very distant past.
The INDOCHINA PEACE CAMPAIGN is an intensive campaign to end the war in Indochina, now, while the American people have the power to do so either by electing a candidate (George McGovern) who is committed to ending the war, or by forcing Nixon to do so first because public sentiment against the war makes continuing it impossible.
Traveling and speaking with the Campaign Troupe are Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, George Smith (a former P. 0. W.), Scott Camil (a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War), Tom Hayden, Holly Near (singer) and others. During the last two weeks of October, they’ve appeared many places in Illinois and in the Chicago area.
Jane Fonda is an impressive woman; she knows a great deal about Vietnam; she is a fine actress. To most of us she appears to be a very exceptional person. Maybe we barely think of her as a woman like ourselves. Yet the story of how she went from Barbarella to being accused of treason by a U. S. Congressional Committee has a beginning which sounds familiar to most American women.
“For years, I went around with falsies and a blond wig, convinced that no one would care about me if they saw my real body.”
Imagine, even famous actresses are conditioned to feel ugly! Jane Fonda grew up in Hollywood with a famous actor for a father. Her background enables her to see connections between American movie screen images; racism and sexism; and Vietnam.
“I was terrified seeing those Indians in the movies chase my father, and shoot arrows into the bedrooms of his lily-white wives.
“Those roles my father played didn’t stop at the movie set. Every weekend when I was a child, John Wayne, John Ford, Ward Bond, and my father would come to our house wearing Stetson hats and six-guns. They would sit around a big table, lay their six-shooters down, and play a macho card game. They were the real men.”
Weren’t these images of racism and male arrogance the cultural background against which Lyndon Johnson could say, referring to the Vietnamese, “The U. S. won’t be bullied by a bunch of yellow dwarfs with pocket knives”.
Jane Fonda went to high school and college in the 1950’s. She recalls the witch-hunting accusations of communism and how Hollywood was affected.
“The only nice thing I remember about the 1950’s was that John Wayne didn’t come to our house anymore. He and my father discovered that they had political differences.”
Henry Fonda was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee to tell which of his Hollywood colleagues he thought were communists or Russian agents. Fonda thought it was bunk and refused to talk; John Wayne found things to tell the Committee. The main result of the witch-hunts was that people feared each other and were afraid to criticize the government.
Jane Fonda and others traveling with the Indochina Peace Campaign tell many stories about present U. S. government harassment and intimidation. Jane is accused of treason. Scott Camil, a leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, is charged with conspiracy to commit various and sundry crimes against the Republican Convention at Miami Beach. George Smith, former P. 0. W., captured and held by the National Liberation Front for two years said, “The U. S. government would have tried me for treason except they couldn’t subpoena any Vietcong to testify against me.”
All the speakers with the INDOCHINA PEACE CAMPAIGN describe the effects of U. S. Government propaganda. George Smith feels he was brainwashed when he joined the Green Berets in 1963 - not when he was captured by the N.L.F.
“I knew why I was going to Vietnam; I was going to save the Vietnamese people from the communist hordes. Of course, they were also offering me $700 a month which was high pay for a soldier. The first thing I did was make a down payment on a Corvette... Being captured came as a shock. After all, the people were supposed to be on our side. When Agnew talks about the P. 0. W. ‘s of this war being the worst treated in history, he must mean the ones captured by the Americans and turned over to the South Vietnamese Government. I wasn’t badly treated. The worst of it was I lived no better than my captors. We were constantly dodging U. S. bombs.”
The INDOCHINA PEACE CAMPAIGN will continue until the election. Hopefully, it will make a difference and many more people will think about the war when they vote, and they will therefore vote for McGovern. Jane Fonda summed up our responsibility to stop our government when she said, “The U.S. isn’tfighting on the wrong side in Vietnam. the U. S. IS the wrong side in Vietnam.”