July 1972: When Jane Fonda allowed a photographer to catch her astride the gunner’s seat of a North Vietnamese Anti-aircraft gun, she sparked the fury of American veterans for a generation. Her misstep that day only capped more egregious collaborations she had with her communist hosts on her activist vacation to war-ravaged Vietnam. In a photograph, tangible proof commingled with propaganda broadcasts she directed at servicemen in battle consequently fueling their enmity with a palpable loathing present even today.
American sex symbol. Movie star daughter. An icon in her own right. Jane Fonda erupted late onto the anti-war scene. First husband Roger Vadim shaped her world view. Second husband Tom Hayden saw her value as a mouthpiece and matured her radicalization. Together, the two dallied with the likes of Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and the Weathermen terrorists, poking Americana in the eye. Ultimately, Fonda cheerfully performed the part for which she’d been scripted.
In a shutter click, Jane Fonda symbolized Veteran grief over defeat yanked from the hands of victory. Fonda symbolized a political loss of will as much as she did the leftist forces fighting to end American involvement in South East Asia.
Despite a caustic title, it’s not all about Jane.
This is and isn’t about her. On the one hand it is, on the other, it catalogs other characters more egregious. Like the butterfly effect, the sum of their actions changed the circumstance in the lives of children. In one boy’s mind, she contributed to his father’s loss because as rumor had it, they crossed paths before he met his death.
This book series brings it home. There’s more to this story than the endcaps of a title and a celebrity name. Jane Fonda, like her symbolism, is merely a side note in a story far more complicated.