This Week in American History ... 1979

Students criticize KPU speaker for anti-U.S. views

This week in 1979, '80s exercise guru Jane Fonda spoke to a crowd of 1,500 at a KPU sponsored event where she discussed her discontent with growing monopolies and the dangers of nuclear energy.

Before instructing the world on the benefits of regular exercise and bicep curls, Fonda was branded a traitor by U.S. military forces when she traveled to North Vietnam in 1972 and publicly stated her contempt for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Fonda was photographed manning enemy weapons and later described American prisoners-of-war as "liars and hypocrites" for their descriptions of enemy torture. She later apologized in a 1988 20/20 interview with Barbara Walters, stating that her behavior was "thoughtless and careless."

Despite the Vietnam debauchal, Fonda continued her crusade against social injustice. The topic of choice for her AU appearance centered on the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in Harrisburg, Pa. She expressed concern that radiation victims were getting their information about what would happen to them from her movie, "China Syndrome."

"We have nothing against profit and we have nothing against big business," but when they take away our jobs and give us cancer we should "demand a voice in economic decision-making," she said.

Several attendees were not interested in Fonda's views on nuclear energy, still concerned with her actions in Vietnam. Individuals holding signs reading "I Hate You Jane and I'm Not Even a Boatperson" and "Nukes for Jobs and Hopes" littered the crowd.

AU student Dick Gardner had a personal interest vested in nuclear energy. "My father works for a power plant and he feels what's best at this time is to continue using nuclear energy, since we obviously can't use solar energy tomorrow"

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