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Admiral Stockdale and Jane Fonda...
[Gordon Cucullu] 8/9/05
Here is yet
another case of the kind of bizarre juxtaposition that continues
to characterize the Vietnam War well into the first decade of the new century.
I refer on the one hand to the recent loss of Admiral James B. Stockdale,
a highly decorated Navy aviator and prisoner of war of the North Vietnamese
for seven grueling years. His funeral services were held, appropriately,
on the Navy carrier the USS Ronald Reagan with the full military honors
the Medal of Honor winner deserved.
in the Peoples Republic of Hollywood actress Jane Fonda announced
that she is launching an anti-war crusade – on a vegetable
oil-powered bus of all things 1960s – in order to protest
continuing American military operations in Iraq. Recall that
Fonda earned the sobriquet “Hanoi Jane” after being
photographed posing in a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun
emplacement grinning vacuously, empty head adorned with an
NVA pith helmet with a blazing red star. She also abused American
POWs on this visit, demanding publicly that they denounce their “crimes
against the brave, peace-loving people of North Vietnam.” POWs
who were uncooperative with her “peace mission” were
ratted out by Fonda and tortured brutally by the North Vietnamese
in reprisal. At least one American died as a result.
at the time was locked inside the Hanoi Hilton. He was the
Navy officer – known respectfully
by his fellow POWs as Commander Air Group or CAG. He personified
and exemplified resistance to the unremitting mental and physical
torture that the North Vietnamese used on our POWs. If Jane Fonda
was not then aware of these facts it was because she was naïve,
obtuse, or willfully blind. But as the cruel history of American
POWs in Vietnamese hands has been exhaustively detailed there
is no longer an excuse for her ignorance. Nor is there sufficient
rationalization for continued popular acceptance of her traitorous
behavior or of the terrible damage – mental and physical – that
her “peace mission” brought down upon fellow Americans.
Therefore, one would
hope that with the passage of time, cooling of emotions, and
the benefits of historical perspective, Fonda
would have recognized the folly of her youthful actions and acknowledged
the horror her irresponsible behavior inflicted on American servicemen.
She has not. She has issued bogus apologies that were characteristically
self-forgiving and simply reopened wounds among Vietnam veterans.
One fellow vet, Colonel Oliver North, notes that she is still
the hard-left anti-military activist of old. North recommends
that her nickname be upgraded to reflect the times. “She
may well become known as ‘Jihadist Jane.’ It has
a better ring. More alliteration.” We can change her name,
Ollie, but we’ll never change her mind. She still praises
America’s enemies, despises American values, and reflects
the destructive secular humanism of the Boomer generation. Fonda
has taken this self-absorbed mission to protest the Iraq War,
because, as she vacuously explains, “It's another example
of the government lying to the American people in order to get
us into war.” She’s the same rattling empty bucket
of conflicted psycho-babble nonsense.
Stockdale was firmly
grounded in moral values. He well understood that defense of
liberty did not necessarily mean that all conflicts
would be restricted to America’s immediate geographical
borders. He recognized the mounting threat of worldwide attacks
by an implacable enemy. And that defense of an American ally – even
a flawed, imperfect one such as the South Vietnamese government
at the time – meant both increased protection for America
and a far better chance for the ally to develop ultimately into
a free market democracy. The analogy to Iraq is brutally clear:
we abandoned Vietnam and we failed. If we stay in course in Iraq
we will win. That’s the real similarity in the two wars
and one that the Fonda promoters hope you’ll miss.
We have seen many
countries transition from military authoritarian to democracy
with American help: Germany, Japan, South Korea,
Taiwan, El Salvador are examples. It requires time to build a
secure environment in which the foundations for individual freedom
and economic growth can flourish. And it means that America’s
fighting men and women have to place themselves in harm’s
way in those distant places. Stockdale knew all this. He accepted
the personal danger because of his commitment to a universal
greater good: freedom for the oppressed.
But such lofty goals
were rejected by the flower children of the 60s. Instead a
coalition of red-diaper professors, anti-war
protestors, “useful idiots,” smug media, and venal
politicians colluded to bring down an ally that put its faith
in America’s word of honor. In the process these self-appointed
few cynically trashed the reputations of hundreds of thousands
of American fighting men by characterizing our veterans as losers,
drug addicts, psychological misfits and criminals. As a consequence,
the unfortunate people of Vietnam lost their chance for freedom.
And America lost its first war, not by battlefield inferiority
but by a general lack of purpose and confidence. The country
was awash in self-pity; its leaders bereft of moral clarity.
It was exactly this
moral clarity that drove Jim Stockdale to the awesome acts
of defiant courage that served to thwart the
unceasing cruelty of his North Vietnamese captors. There are
many kinds of courage – one type is the flash of bravery.
This is what is needed to make that terrifying catapult shot
off the bow while strapped into a massive fighter aircraft, twin
engines red-lined at full military power. Another kind of courage
is quieter but more impressive. It is the courage to endure.
This is the ability to accept deprivation, fatigue, pain, hunger,
mental anguish and physical torture for an extended period of
time. A few have the flash of bravery required for immediate
acts of courage. A very, very few have the courage to endure
the way Admiral Stockdale did for seven long years. His was an
amazing example of awesome strength of character. He became a
beacon for his fellow prisoners and for his country. When we
learned of the character of men like Jim Stockdale we began to
repair the damage Fonda and her ilk brought down on America's
Perhaps the juxtaposition
of these two seemingly unrelated events – the
loss of an American hero and the reprise of an American traitor – has
meaning after all, albeit unintended. Had Admiral Stockdale not
passed to a greater reward at this time we may have let Jane
Fonda’s shameful “peace tour” go unchallenged.
Instead his loss causes us to attend to her true nature: empty-headed,
sad, self-promoting. A woman wrapped in her own false sense of
importance off on yet another hate-America journey of futility.
So we see on the one
hand James Stockdale, casket draped in dignity and honor with
the flag of his proud country, carried
to rest by 12 Medal of Honor winners. Simultaneously Jane Fonda
launches a ridiculous, self-absorbed “protest” awash
in vegetable oil and media sycophants. The old CAG must be grinning:
he won this battle too.tRO
about North Korea? Learn more in Gordon’s
best-selling book Separated
at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin became
the Evil Twin, Lyons Press available at bookstores now.
Gordon Cucullu 2005