Actress Jane Fonda issued an apology late Friday for her infamous visit to North Vietnam in 1972, a moment that earned her the dubious nickname “Hanoi Jane.”
Fonda called it a “huge mistake” during a speech given at an arts center in Frederick, Maryland, the Associated Press reports. She made her comments in response to protests against her appearance.
“But those people out there… I’m a lightning rod,” Fonda told the audience, according to The Frederick News-Post. “This famous person goes and does something that looks like I’m against the troops, which wasn’t true, but it looked that way, and I’m a convenient target. So I understand.”
However, Fonda still considered her trip to the communist state at war with the U.S. a “great experience.” While on the trip, she took publicity shots manning an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot down American planes and publicly criticized the war effort against North Vietnam.
The protesters gathered outside the arts center, many of whom were Vietnam veterans, did not forget Fonda’s anti-war effort and carried signs that bore the phrase, “Forgive? Maybe. Forget? Never.”
“She encouraged North Vietnam to pull away from the negotiations table,” Bob Hartman, a Vietnam Army veteran, told The News-Post. “She got Americans killed… and she went to Vietnam to advance her husband’s career.”
Fonda focused most of her talk on gender politics and encouraged the crowd to not raise boys to become “emotionally illiterate” by emphasizing masculinity.