WASHINGTON (AFP) – Hollywood legend Jane Fonda revealed she attempted to meet United States (US) President Donald Trump shortly after his election with a group of “beautiful, brilliant” climate activists including Pamela Anderson to convince him to tackle global warming.
But after discussing her idea with the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, Fonda did not hear back, which eventually helped convince her to move for several months to Washington and use her celebrity status to help drive mass mobilisations.
Speaking at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Fonda, who turned 82 last Saturday, said she hatched the plan the day after the New York real estate tycoon was elected in 2016.
“I kind of know men like Trump, not as bad, but you know, I sort of know those inclinations,” she said.
“And I thought, I’m going to get three or four of the most beautiful, brilliant climate activists – Pamela Anderson is one of them – and a few scientists, and I’m going to make an appointment, and we’re all going to see Trump and we’re going to get on our knees,” she added, to laughter.
“And we’re going to say to him, President Trump, you can be the hero of the entire world, you can be the most important human being ever to be born, the most better, perfect, wonderful, big, huge, wonderful, if you protect the planet.”
She said she then called Kushner, who referred her to his wife Ivanka – the “environmentalist in the family” – to call her back. Fonda said Ivanka laughed when told the plan but did not take it further.
The Oscar-winning actress, who made a name for herself as a pacifist and feminist since the 1970s, has been taking part in non-sanctioned protests outside the US Capitol since October and getting arrested alongside other activists, hoping to spark a mass movement of millions to force the government to act.
Asked what she thought of Trump’s repeated mockery of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg and its impact on other teens fighting for climate action, Fonda said the president deserved pity, not scorn, because he sounded “traumatised”.
“A man who could do that to a girl like Greta is so empty, so lacking in empathy and compassion, that we need to be compassionate,” she said. “We may hate the behaviour! But we have to understand that the behaviour is the language of the traumatised, so we don’t hate the traumatised”.
“I do have empathy, but I’m afraid that there’s no change in him,” she added.
Fonda concluded that whether Trump won re-election next year or a Democrat took the White House, activists “still have to be in the streets holding their feet to the fire”.
“There’s a big advantage of being old, because you can look back and you can see presidents. I’ve seen presidents, and when we don’t force the people in office to do what they need to do, terrible things happen.”