|Some history is escaping from the Internet Black Hole|
|Google archive of this 1979 article.|
We seem to be emerging from another period of hidden news and hidden history. Since the Internet became popular (I will peg that in the 1990s just for discussion's sake) there has been a tendency of people to not believe anything unless they could find it online. Like most things, there is a good and bad to that approach. I recall telling people quite often "you need to look that one up in a library" when items like the rift between Joan Baez and the hardcore Left came up. With Google's newspaper archive, those who wish to find original articles can save a few trips to the library.
|Folk singer Joan Baez|
In 1979, (as recorded in the Toledo Blade on 2 July, 1979), Baez was urging President Carter to use the US Seventh Fleet to rescue the latest wave of refugees. Of course, the Left view was the refugees were "nothing but assassins and colonels". Jane Fonda had some angry words for Baez about Baez' Open Letter to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (in full at the end of this post).
|Jane Fonda pretending to operate NVA Anti-Aircraft System.|
Ms. Fonda responded with a letter to Ms. Baez. questioning the reliability of her sources and her definition of repression.Baez had an excellent counter to Fonda's boilerplate defense-of-Communism-by-any-means-necessary.
"I don't know if we can expect the Vietnamese people to turn free those millions of people overnight, people who were involved in a war much more hideous than any repression," Ms. Fonda wrote.
"I hope you will reconsider the assertion of your ad: that the Vietnamese people are 'waiting to die.' Such rhetoric only aligns you with the most narrow and negative elements in our country who continue to believe that Communism is worse than death," she added.
"What we're (sic) really saying is that I'm betraying 17 or 18 geriatric Stalinists who are running the government - not the people."
"I've said it for 22 years, till I'm blue in the face . . . I believe in people, not systems. I don't have any ideological yoke around my neck that binds me to human rights violations."This is a bit of history that I have been trying to document for over a decade. I had no luck with search engines in the 1990s - 2000s, they are of course limited by what is out there to search. For some strange reason, every bit of Joan Baez information related to Vietnam was centered on her days supporting the North over the South. I try to run a fair and balanced blog here, and nothing is more fair than the truth. In my attempt to find any of the famous video of Baez singing in a North Vietnamese bomb shelter (clips I will add if anybody wants to send me links to them), the best I could find was not even close. So here is the introduction to her appearance on Firing Line (link is to Amazon DVD of full show), with the great William F. Buckley, Jr. where Baez lays out her non-aggression position (clip lasts 4:46).
The Baez open letter, in full:
Open Letter to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Four years ago, the United States ended its 20-year presence in Vietnam. An anniversary that should be cause for celebration is, instead, a time for grieving.
With tragic irony, the cruelty, violence and oppression practiced by foreign powers in your country for more than a century continue today under the present regime.
Thousands of innocent Vietnamese, many whose only "crimes" are those of conscience, are being arrested, detained and tortured in prisons and re-education camps. Instead of bringing hope and reconciliation to war-torn Vietnam, your government has created a painful nightmare that overshadows significant progress achieved in many areas of Vietnamese society.
Your government slated in February 1977 that some 50,000 people were then incarcerated. Journalists, independent observers and refugees estimate the current number of political prisoners between 150,000 and 200,000.
Whatever the exact figure, the facts form a grim mosaic. Verified reports have appeared in the press around the globe, from Le Monde and The Observer to the Washington Post and Newsweek. We have heard the horror stories from the people of Vietnam from workers and peasants, Catholic nuns and Buddhist priests, from the boat people, the artists and professionals and those who fought alongside the NLF.
The jails are overflowing with thousands upon thousands of "detainees."
People disappear and never return.
People are shipped to re-education centers, fed a starvation diet of stale rice, forced to squat bound wrist to ankle, suffocated in "connex" boxes.
People are used as human mine detectors, clearing live mine fields with their hands and feet.
For many, life is hell and death is prayed for. Many victims are men, women and children who supported and fought for the causes of reunification and self-determination; those who as pacifists, members of religious groups, or on moral and philosophic grounds opposed the authoritarian policies of Thieu and Ky; artists and intellectuals whose commitment to creative expression is anathema to the totalitarian policies of your government. Requests by Amnesty International and others for impartial investigations of prison conditions remain unanswered. Families who inquire about husbands, wives, daughters or sons are ignored.
It was an abiding commitment to fundamental principles of human dignity, freedom and self-determination that motivated so many Americans to oppose the government of South Vietnam and our country's participation in the war. It is that same commitment that compels us to speak out against your brutal disregard of human rights. As in the 60s, we raise our voices now so that your people may live.
We appeal to you to end the imprisonment and torture-to allow an international team of neutral observers to inspect your prisons and re-education centers.
We urge you to follow the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights which, as a member of the United Nations, your country is pledged to uphold.
We urge you to reaffirm your stated commitment to the basic principles of freedom and human dignity ... to establish real peace in Vietnam.
President, Humanitas/International Human Rights Committee
Albert V. Baez
Joan c. Baez
Peter S. Beagle
Hugo Adam Bedau
Barton J. Bernstein
Edmund G. "Pat" Brown
Yvonne Braithwaite Burke
Henry B. Burnette, Jr.
Richard Pierre Claude
E. L. Doctorow
Ecumenical Peace Institute Staff
Douglas A. Fraser
Dr. Lawrence Zelic Freedman
David B. Goodstein
Richard J. Guggenhime
Denis Goulet, Sr.
Thomas J. Gumbleton
Rev. T. M. Hesburgh, C.J.C.
John T. Hitchcock
Dr. Irving L. Horowitz
Henry S. Kaplan, M.D.
R. Scott Kennedy
Roy C. Kepler
Seymour S. Kety
Philip R. Lee, M.D.
Bob T. Martin
James A. Michener
Edward A. Morris
Michael R. Peevey
Geoffrey Cobb Ryan
Leonard Sagan, M.D.
Charles M. Schultz
Ernest L. Scott
Jerome J. Shestack
I. F. Stone
Peter H. Voulkos
Grace Kennan Warnecke
Morris L. West
Dr. Jerome P. Wiesner
Charles W. Yost