FONDA'S APOLOGY | 2000-07-29

Wordist thinking made liberals feel free during the Vietnam War not just to criticize the war itself, but to carry the flag of the enemy in their Peace marches. In Havana, Bella Abzug cheered loudly as a film was shown of an American plane being shot down by the North Vietnamese.

It is exactly this idea, that a nation is just a set of words, and you can pick the best set of words to be loyal to, that made outright treason such a routine thing in the 1960's. Abzug's loyalty was with her good guys, the Cubans and the Viet Cong. She felt they had a better set of words. The fact that the pilot going down was from the country where she was born and raised meant nothing at all to her.

That would be nationalism, you see. If she didn't cheer the killing of Americans, Abzug would have been a Nazi, you see

During a trip to visit her heroes in North Vietnam in the 1960s, Jane Fonda posed for a picture manning a Communist anti-aircraft gun which was used against Americans. She apologized for that again last week.

But, if we use Asquith's argument, why should she regret what she did? Unless she is at all loyal to "her" land of birth or "her" people, she did exactly what she should have done. In the 1960s, Fonda proclaimed that, if Americans knew what Communism really was, they'd fall to their knees and pray for it. Unless she was a Nazi, how could she not be for shooting down American pilots?

At the time she posed at the controls of that gun, she felt the Communists offered a better constitutional order, or set of principles, than did the United States. In that case, loyalty to the United States would have made her a nationalist, or anaziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

Like many on the right, I was against the Vietnam War. Like Reagan, my position was that we should fight it seriously or get out of it. Unlike Reagan, I stuck to that position.

But my loyalties have always been to my own people and my own country.

Nowadays, old liberals say they were completely patriotic in the 1960s. They say they were just for Peace and Love. Naturally, when they say that on television, respectable conservatives get that goofy grin on their face, nod vigorously, and wipe the drool from the side of their faces.

During the Gulf War, all the old leftists claimed they had been against the war in Vietnam, but they were all for the troops. Respectable conservatives nodded and drooled.

Back on planet Earth in the 1960s, the standard terms the leftists used for American soldiers in Vietnam was "paid killers" and "baby killers." Some of them also bombed buildings. At Kent State, they burned down the ROTC building and every leftist peacenik I know of defended it.

Another thing some of those Peace Lovers used to do was to call parents and wives of soldiers in Vietnam, pretend to be from the Defense Department, and tell them their son or husband had been killed in action.

But they were all for the troops. Right, respectable conservatives?

Fonda's treason during Vietnam was not unique. It is just that that photo put her beyond the protection of respectable conservatives. Seeing that photo, even they can't grin and say she was just being sweet.