Making A Positive Difference In Wartime; Miep Gies vs. Jane Fonda

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One of the goals of my blog here is to write about people who are making a positive difference, and hopefully, if I’m really lucky, make one myself. This week, actress Jane Fonda is getting a lot of press for her claims that she was canned by the home shopping network, QVC, for her status as a controversial person during the Vietnam War. You can read about that here: Jane Fonda — QVC Axed Me Over Possible Protests 

Whether or not you side with Jane Fonda or QVC in this matter, photographs tend to speak for themselves….

Jane Fonda wrote a rebuttal to her critics and QVC via her blog, and you can read that in its entirety here, along with the comments she has chosen to publish. I will state for the record that she has not yet posted my own comment, in which I ask her to make a donation of a portion of her millions to a Facebook Cause I founded, Thank a Vietnam Veteran, in order to prove the sincerity of her regret at supposedly being somehow tricked into sitting on that anti-aircraft gun: Jane Fonda’s Blog Post, “The Truth About My Trip To Hanoi”

Quite frankly, I was less than impressed with the argument set forth in the blog by Ms. Fonda. It seemed to be all about her, all about how she was framed and coerced by this that and the other person, and more than a little whiney. I’m sure that there have been some things said about her that aren’t true. This is the case with almost every celebrity, with every high profile news event, etc. But, Janey….Girlfriend…that’s so not the point. The point is, when you are confronted with a war that you don’t agree with, or a political leader that you don’t like and wish to protest, this is not how you make a positive difference. But, you’re a big girl now and you know that, don’t you?

For tips and pointers on how to make a difference in war time, no matter how Jane Fonda is trying to spin her actions now, 40 years later, when what she herself did and said is hitting her wallet, look not to Jane, but to a real wartime hero–Miep Gies.

Who???? Who, you say, well let me tell you a little bit about Miep Gies. Hopefully, afterward, you’ll want read and learn more about her for yourself. Miep shares one similarity with Jane–they both went against their own government during wartime. But that is where the similarities end. Miep Gies was one of the Dutch citizens who actively, at the very real risk of her own life, helped hide Anne Frank and her family in that annex  for two years during World War II. She is mentioned in The Diary of Anne Frank, and later penned her own account of that time in history in her volume, Anne Frank Remembered. I picked up a copy of it at the library today and, after reading just the prologue, cannot wait to delve into her account of those same events covered by Anne in her infamous diary. 

Consider these words from Miep Gies, as opposed to Fonda’s self aggrandizing, self pitying words in her recent blog:

“I am not a hero. I stand at the end of a long long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more–much more–during those dark and terrible times years ago, but always like yesterday in the hearts of those who bear witness. Never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened to them…There is nothing special about me. I have never wanted special attention. I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time”. 

Wow. I guess the point to my blog today, and I do have one, is that each of us has a choice, including me, of course. We make choices every day regarding our own actions. My feelings about Jane Fonda’s actions back during the Vietnam War are probably not a secret. However, I didn’t write this blog to bash Ms. Fonda. I think her actions, and her own words of spin in the guise of truth telling in her own blog probably speak for themselves and are up to your own interpretation. What I ask you (and myself really) to consider, is the contrast between Jane Fonda and Miep Gies. Both women claim to have had only the best of intentions during wartime.

And war, I might add, isn’t really the issue here either. Show me a person who “loves” war, and I’ll show you a troubled individual. As my WWII Veteran grandfather once told me, “Shell, nobody loves war. And nobody hates war more than a soldier.” However, my grandfather was a veteran himself, and saw two sons go off to Vietnam not knowing whether or not they’d come home to him whole, or in one of those infamous body bags. He was and still is, however, a lifelong Republican, and an educated man as well. He may not have supported every war the U.S. fought in his heart, but he always supported his country, and its soldiers. And he would also be the first to tell you that support is NEVER spelled by going into enemy territory during wartime and sitting on weaponry with the enemy for a destructive, hurtful, self promoting photo opportunity. That’s just not supportive, and I suspect even Jane Fonda knows that. Miep Gies actually went against her occupied country’s leadership at the time, in a bigger, way more gutsy manner than Jane Fonda could have dreamed of doing. But, and here’s the critical difference, she did it in a way that saved lives, that positively impacted the victims of war–she fought the good fight. Jane? Not so much, because I really fail to see how her stunt in North Vietnam positively impacted even one victim of war–either the Vietnamese people, or Vietnam Soldiers, now Veterans, POWs, or Casualties. 

So, in the end, I think we all have to decide….when it comes to doing what’s right, to helping the victims of a war, to expressing ourselves in a positive and constructive manner, and showing the world what we’re really made of….Will we be Jane Fonda or Miep Gies? I know who I choose! 

As always, thanks for reading….

2 responses »

  1. I just finished reading “3 Cups of Tea”, about the efforts of Greg Mortensen to spread peace by building schools throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a very inspirational book that goes along well with what you are saying. Our brave vets from every war and “action” deserve our gratitude and reverence. But also, let’s use books instead of bombs to spread peace.

    • That’d be nice–unfortunately not always possible or realistic though. Normally I try to shy away from writing about any sort of political issues on my blog–total recipe for conflict and circular debate. But, with the Jane Fonda issue, I felt compelled to write something. I’ve been a dedicated advocate for Vietnam Veterans for many years now. I know how much Jane Fonda and those who chose to follow her particular brand of anti war activism hurt them. She was definitely not helpful during that time, instead unbelievably destructive. And now, she has the nerve to open up those old wounds for the sole purpose of her own personal gain, because she simply lost a promotional opportunity with QVC for her new book. And she also seems to be unwilling to take any real responsibility for the hurt she caused too. In her statement she blames everyone but herself for that one photograph. And she entirely misses the point that people not only disagree with the fact that she allowed herself to be photographed that way, but also that she took a trip to North Vietnam during the war in the first place. It was, at the very least, disrespectful to soldiers risking their lives at the time. A real slap in the face, particularly considering the fact that many of them were drafted and answered the call of their country. Who knows what their individual and personal feelings were about that particular war? They might have been conflicted as well, but in the end they did the right thing and answered the call because it was their duty. So many in our country treated them so terribly that we had to pass legislation making them a protected class in the context of employment. Given all of that, how can anyone blame them for feeling the way they do about Jane Fonda? Especially now that she is adding insult to injury and claiming so fraudulently that she did what she did FOR them? People definitely have a right to be upset with her. She should have left it all alone, because it was bad enough before she chose to “open up” and tell the “real story”. At her age, in particular, she should know better by now…

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