Blogs > Liberty and Power > Joan Baez v. Jane Fonda

Apr 22, 2005

Joan Baez v. Jane Fonda

Don Kates, the author of many books on gun control and the history of gun rights and gun control, passed along these recollections from a friend who was a Vietnam war vet. They concern two very different activists against the Vietnam War: Jane Fonda and Joan Baez:

For those who don't quite understand, being in favor of one side over another in a war is not"anti-war" activity. To the contrary! The articles about her and her"apology" (for choosing the wrong vehicle of publicity, not for her position in favor of the enemy) should not continue repeating the canard that she engaged in"anti-war activities" when she so clearly sided with a party to a war: North Vietnam. She absolutely refuses to acknowledge that she wasn't just a part of the anti-war or pacifist fringe in the United States at the time, but was in fact a true believer and supporter of North Vietnam during its war with the United States.

By contrast, look at the trip to Hanoi that famous folk singer Joan Baez, with Brigadier General Teleford Taylor (well-known Nuremberg war prosecutor) made just two and one half months after Jane Fonda's notorious propaganda visit. Ms. Baez and Gen Tayor were trapped in Hanoi during the entire"Linebacker II" Christmas bombing raids over and around that city--in which I again was heavily involved. Ms Baez made no bones about her pacifist beliefs and her hatred of wars. Yet, even after suffering through some of the most intense bombing raids of the entire Vietnam War, when asked by her hosts/watchers to make anti-US statements, she stuck to her beliefs, saying she hated all war by all sides, no matter what. We fighting men heard Baez's statements as soon as they were made. Somehow, we ignorant warriors were sophisticated enough to recognize the difference between Baez's anti-war statements and Fonda's open promotion of North Vietnamese victory--an apparently too-subtle distinction that has escaped the press even today. Most of us respected Baez's view, even if we differed with it--and acknowledged her right as an American to express that view even during a war. I was able to talk personally to Ms Baez about that several years later; she was pleased that we warriors certainly understood her point.

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Robert Cowart - 8/5/2010

Fonda claimed to be a "peace activist" but was, in fact, a pro-North Vietnam activist. "Peace activists" don't sit on war machinery and laugh and sing songs. She is a hypocrite and liar. All the backpedaling in the world won't undo her actions. She wanted to impress the left with her actions. I agree with you about Joan Baez. At least she was honest and consistent with her views and actions.

David Timothy Beito - 5/1/2005

Thanks, I'll forward it to Don. The email was not very specific on details.

Richard Rongstad - 5/1/2005

What Don Kates has passed on looks exactly like what Dana Drenkowski wrote to some of his correspondents. Drenkowski wrote that he was a B-52 pilot for his first tour of duty in Vietnam and was piloting an F-4 in the skies over Vietnam during his second tour, the same time frame that Jane Fonda was singing songs with and giggling with her one big happy family, the communist AA gun crew, so Dana should take it personally.

Here's the whole piece from Dana Drenkowski -- http://vikingphoenix.com/public/CelebrityFiles/TurnerandFonda/JaneFonda/drenkowski-on-fonda.htm

Kenneth R Gregg - 4/24/2005

Baez was also sympathetic to many of us in the antiwar libertarian camp as well. She never seemed to have been much concerned about economic issues, viz., capitalism vs. socialism, as much in violent actions. I know that there were libertarians who had spoken to her about libertarianism who came away pleased with her.

She was consistently nonviolent and, as far as I know, has remained so.
Just a thought.
Just Ken

David Timothy Beito - 4/24/2005

As someone who remembers the Vietnam War (and supported it to nearly the bitter end!), my memory is that Baez was disliked but never in the same way as Fonda (even before her Hanoi trip). Partly it was a matter of style. Baez came across as quietly earnest and polite representative of a long and thoughtful antiwar tradition (her husband spent time in jail for resisting the draft) while Fonda always had the appearence of a shrill ambulance chasing grandstander, more image than substance.

Max Swing - 4/24/2005

There were even Vietnam Veterans who tried to spread untruth about Mr. Kerry and his part in the Vietnam war. I think that this is common to all sort of people. They tend to ignore distinctions or even try to forward their own personal cause without attention to facts.

Roderick T. Long - 4/22/2005

When Joan Baez came to Chapel Hill I remember that some local Republican veterans were trying to organize a protest against her because of her stand on the Vietnam war, so I guess not everyone grasped the distinction.

David Timothy Beito - 4/22/2005

It might be because in that case Fonda defended the Communist government as "progressive" and dimissed the plight of the boat people. I never particularly thought much of Fonda and/or her dubious choice of husbands.

Jason Pappas - 4/22/2005

I remember how Baez was condemned by others on the Left when she voiced concern for the “Boat People” as they escaped Vietnam after the communist victory. Why is it that she stands out in my mind as the exception?