THE  VigilanceVoice 

Dec. 13, Thursday, Ground Zero Plus 93

John Walker 2001  With Taliban                    

Jane Fonda, 1972 With Viet Cong

            History is a circle.   It constantly repeats itself, or so I thought with a smirk when I saw the pictures of John Walker, the American expatriate who fought for the Taliban until he was captured and discovered by the CIA.
            After training in an al-Qaeda camp, Walker became a Taliban fighter.   In other non-politically correct words, a traitor. 

Walker Captured

              He used arms against the United States.  His intent was to kill Americans.  He wore the enemy's uniform.  He vowed to fight the "infidels."   But no one saw a bullet of his kill an American.  And the president of the United States called him a "poor fellow."
            While the news was carving into John Walker’s background to dissect his reasons for becoming a member of the “evil ones,” I was launched back 35 years ago to Vietnam where a young, brash, news-hungry woman named Jane Fonda climbed up on anti-aircraft guns and allegedly shot at American B-52’s on bombing runs over North Vietnam.  No one saw her "bullets" fly either.  But the world saw her taking aim at America's heart.
            Jane Fonda was my John Walker.
            Back then, when American Marines, airmen, soldiers and sailors were dying by the thousands and more being wounded daily, Fonda danced into the spotlight by visiting North Vietnam and denouncing America.   Some claim she was a traitor and should be tried as such.  Others call her a heroine for showing her anti-war posture.
           Her advocacy, however, was not merely political.  Much of it was for publicity. She advocated the “killing of Americans,” and posed for pictures to spark her struggling career as an actress.  Like John Walker, she might have been young and naïve, but the impact she had on the morale of the troops has not been forgotten over all these years.  The bullet she shot at Americans went to the heart of many whose beliefs in America were weakened by the "acceptance" of her actions against the brave and courageous. 
            Fonda’s example of anti-Americanism during war, and her association and support of the enemy to “kill” Americans, still remains an open wound for many of us Vietnam Veterans.  The fact our country did nothing to admonish her, or penalize her, still stands as a cancer on the sores of Vietnam’s nature as a “political war.”  It also serves as a precedence today for the "John Walkers" of the world.

Fonda Supporting VC in 1972

          When Fonda collaborated with the “enemy” during the Vietnam War, it seemed clear evidence of her traitorship to the nation.  Certainly, it her acts were to all of us “grunts” trying to survive daily against a tough enemy who seemed to be backed by the youth of a nation who refused to fight and die for another nation’s right to freedom.
            My own experiences with Jane Fonda reinforced the belief she was indeed, and in my book, and still is, a traitor.   My good friend, Maurell, was a squad leader in Vietnam.   I met him in the early 90’s and we became close friends because of our Marine Corps and Vietnam backgrounds.   Maurell suffered great psychological and physical pain.  He had been wounded numerous times, and deep inside he bore the shame and guilt imposed upon the valiant warriors of Vietnam who gave their lives for their country--the same country that spat upon them and labeled them “baby killers” and “oppressors.”
            In one fierce battle, Maurell lost eighty-percent of his men trying to take a hill that the Viet Cong controlled.  When they ultimately commanded the position, they found boxes of supplies and materials donated to the Viet Cong by Fonda.   Maurell, to this day, blames Fonda for the death of his comrades.  He includes those who supported her by not prosecuting her for what she was—an American who aided and abetted the enemy in time of war.  He saw little difference between her and the Rosenbergs who were put to death for selling atomic bomb secrets to the Russians.
            Not that Jane Fonda hasn’t suffered.   Her reputation--not as an actress but as an American--will be tarnished to the grave and beyond by those who view her for what she is.  No apology she can ever make (or has made) will heal the scar tissue she created by aligning herself against America, and her public support of “killing Americans” who were fighting for an oppressed people's freedom.
            Now, John Walker appears.
            It is my opinion America should deal with John Walker as we didn’t deal with Jane Fonda.   He is a traitor.   The penalty for bearing arms against his countrymen is clear and absolute.  He wore the uniform of the enemy.  He took the vows of death against his homeland.
            Yet, I wonder whether John Walker will be treated like Jane Fonda.   Will he receive a mere admonishment and be set free?   Or, will he assume the penalties of anyone who raises arms against America?
             In a world of political wars, the outcome is hard to say.   A military court would not be hesitant to subscribe to the “firing squad."  Hopefully, it would be broadcast on national television.  But politically, America may not be ready to execute one of its own because of the "Fonda Precedent."  She remains as John Walker’s greatest defense.  
            As a Sentinel of Vigilance, I owe it to the children of a nation to remind them patriotism is not a cheap commodity.   In America, one can protest a war as well as fight in it.  Ask Mohammad Ali.  He gave up the best years of his life as a fighter to stand by his convictions.  But he did it as a patriot, not a turncoat.   Patriotism's limits stop when one bears arms, or collaborates with the enemy to “kill Americans.”  

Years ago Jane Fonda crossed the line of protestation into the world of collaboration when she sat on the anti-aircraft guns and pretended to shoot down American planes.   John Walker crossed that line too when he joined the Taliban.
           While it might be easy to claim that severe punishment of John Walker would be cruel and unusual, the ripple effect of not treating him as a traitor may run deeper.   If patriotism is the willingness to give one’s life for the freedom of others, then its obverse should be equally applied.
            On September 11, I don’t recall stories of firemen or police running to save their lives at the expense of the innocent.   Instead, they rushed into burning buildings fearlessly offering their lives to protect the freedom and rights of others.   They didn’t carry guns.  They carried courage and conviction that their lives were worth giving over to protect others.
            In the military, one is trained to give his life for his country.  Dying is part of the responsibility of the soldier.    If one is willing to bear arms in defense of a nation, one is also willing to die for that nation.    Conversely, if one is willing to fight for another nation, then one is by association willing and ready to die for that act.   John Walker put his own death sentence in writing when he elected to "kill Americans."

           To teach a child that one has the right to bear arms against a nation with impunity, teaches a child that there are no real laws protecting the child.   If the penalty  for attempting to destroy Americans is a hand-slap, then we should not seek to find, prosecute, and execute bin Laden or his crew.   We should let the Taliban go free.   We should stop setting up internal security to thwart future attacks.   We should teach our children that the colors of our flag should be yellow, white and blue rather than red, white and blue.   If courage and conviction to offer one’s life for his or her beliefs is not taught as a principle of conviction, then a child never understands the true value of commitment.                
            Someone once said that “nothing is truly important until you are willing to risk your life for it.”
            I believe that.
            I believe the acid test of any true moral or political position is the willingness a person or a group or a nation takes to “give his or her life” for the cause.  
            Was Jane Fonda willing to die for her alliance with the enemy?   Is John Walker?
            Thousands of American military personnel in the war are willing to die.   Hundreds of firemen and police and emergency workers were willing to die in the September 11 holocaust.
And for what?
            In the final analysis, the “right to die” for a cause comes down to the children.   Is the right of a child to enjoy freedom worth dying for?  
            If a parent would turn his or her back on a child’s security, they would be a traitor to parenthood.   They would lose all rights as a citizen of society.   A child expects, as part of parental responsibility, the willingness to die for his or her safety.
            That’s why “women and children” go onto the lifeboats first.   It’s why nature has built into all creatures a ferocious instinct to fight anyone or anything to the death to protect its young.
            John Walker’s ultimate crime, as was Jane Fonda’s, was to become a traitor to the children of America.   Both exposed the innocent, helpless children to the cruelty of an enemy bent on killing them, or their fathers, or mothers, or grandparents, or uncles, or nieces, or nephews.
            It might be easy for some to excuse John Walker’s actions as a disturbed young man—just as people excused Jane Fonda.   But a child can’t excuse their behavior.   When one puts into the hands of the “enemy” the ability to kill the Parents of Vigilance of a Nation, or, promotes that killing, then the crime is ultimately against the children.
            Both Jane Fonda and John Walker are one—traitors to the children of America.
            But will we tell them that? 

            Or will we turn our eyes away, as we did in 1972 when we let Jane Fonda slip through the responsibility of America's red, white and blue?

Go To December 12: "Bless The Angels Who Fight Destruction"

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