John Wayne's Family Says He's Not Racist Amid Airport Naming Debate

Brunilde Fioravanti
Luglio 1, 2020

In April 2016, a resolution to honor Wayne in California was shot down in the state Assembly after critics expressed concern about bigoted statements he had made against Black people, Native Americans and members of the LGBTQ community.

When challenged by the Playboy journalist specifically on the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz by Native American activists, Wayne says, "I think we ought to make a deal with the Indians".

The party's executive committee in Orange County adopted a resolution last week condemning Wayne's "racist and bigoted statements" in a 1971 interview and called on the county's board of supervisors to drop his "name and likeness" from the airport. That was eight years after Wayne gave an interview to Playboy that's been at the center of the controversy.

Wayne - the late, macho star of Hollywood westerns such as "True Grit" - held "white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views", the Orange County Democratic Party said in a resolution last week. "I don't believe in giving authorities and positions of leadership and judgement to irresponsible people", Wayne says in the interview, in response to a question about concerns raised by activist Angela Davis.

There are calls to rename John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, over his white supremacist and homophobic beliefs.

But Michelle Steel, who serves as Second District Supervisor for Orange County and chairs the board, said Wayne should be remembered for the contributions he made to their community and the country - and argues the name of the John Wayne Airport should not be changed over his past statements.

He added, "There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves".

John's son is also invoking George Floyd's name to defend his father, saying.

He said: "I know that term is casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously". They pained him as well, as he realised his true feelings were wrongly conveyed...

Ethan continued: "Those who knew him, knew he judged everyone as an individual and believed everyone deserved an equal opportunity". He hired and worked with people of all races, creeds, and sexual orientations. Wayne's defenders have said it is unfair to judge him based off remarks made almost 50 years ago, and when he is no longer alive to defend or even retract them.

"John Wayne stood for the very best for all of us - a society that doesn't discriminate against anyone seeking the American Dream". "But attempts by some to use it for political advantage distract from real opportunities for reform".

"One thing we know - if John Wayne were here today, he would be in the forefront demanding fairness and justice for all people".

Since the mobilization that followed the death of George Floyd, a new wind is rising on the United States.

John Wayne led the movement to make Orange County home to Vietnamese refugees, he was an ardent supporter of our men and women in uniform, and his family foundation has been a national leader in cancer research. "We're seeing renewed calls for this right now, and it's time for change".

He concluded his statement: "My father believed that we can learn from yesterday, but not by erasing the past".

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