John Wayne’s son is talking out after California Democrats in Orange County not too long ago demanded that the county’s John Wayne Airport be renamed and all likenesses of Wayne be faraway from the airport, over “racist and bigoted statements” made by the American icon a long time in the past.
The decision, which handed on Friday, is asking the county’s board of supervisors to revive the identify to Orange County Airport.
In an announcement to Fox Information on Monday, Ethan Wayne mentioned: “Let me make one factor clear — John Wayne was not a racist. I do know that time period is casually tossed round lately, however I take it very severely. I additionally perceive how we obtained up to now.
“There isn’t a query that the phrases spoken by John Wayne in an interview 50 years in the past have precipitated ache and anger,” Ethan continued, referencing the late actor’s 1971 interview with Playboy. “They pained him as properly, as he realized his true emotions have been wrongly conveyed.”
Within the interview on the time, Wayne is quoted saying, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.” He additionally mentioned he felt no regret for the subjugation of Native People and known as films equivalent to “Easy Rider” and “Midnight Cowboy” perverted.
Ethan, who’s Wayne’s youngest son and president of John Wayne Enterprises, went on to say in his assertion on Monday: “The reality is, as we’ve got seen in papers from his archives, he didn’t assist ‘white supremacy’ in any method and believed that accountable folks ought to acquire energy with out the usage of violence.
“Those that knew him, knew he judged everybody as a person and believed everybody deserved an equal alternative,” Ethan added. “He known as out bigotry when he noticed it. He employed and labored with folks of all races, creeds, and sexual orientations. John Wayne stood for the perfect for all of us — a society that doesn’t discriminate towards anybody looking for the American dream.”
Ethan mentioned that it “could be an injustice to evaluate him based mostly on a single interview, versus the total image of who he was.”
“The present deal with social justice is totally legitimate and vital. However makes an attempt by some to make use of it for political benefit distract from actual alternatives for reform,” he mentioned.
The 58-year-old additionally defined what his father would have executed if he was nonetheless alive at this time.
“One factor we all know – if John Wayne have been right here at this time, he could be within the forefront demanding equity and justice for all folks,” Ethan mentioned. “He would have pulled these officers off of George Floyd, as a result of that was the fitting factor to do. He would stand for everybody’s proper to protest and work towards change.”
Wayne handed away at age 72 from most cancers in 1979.
“Since his dying greater than 40 years in the past, his legacy continues by the John Wayne Most cancers Basis, which has helped present braveness, power and grit to the struggle towards most cancers, and thru his in depth movie library. My father believed that we are able to study from yesterday, however not by erasing the previous. His identify, irrespective of the place it’s, will all the time embody these values, and our household is aware of the optimistic influence that he made on the world won’t ever be diminished,” Ethan concluded his assertion.
The push to oust Wayne, who was a longtime county resident, from the airport’s identify has a prolonged historical past. The airport, which is within the coronary heart of Orange County, dates again a long time and county officers voted to alter the identify to recollect Wayne when he died.
Deanne Thompson, an airport spokeswoman, has beforehand mentioned the county has no plans to alter the identify or take away a statue of Wayne from the airport, although the problem comes up periodically, together with final yr.
Nonetheless, the present push comes as 1000’s of People have taken to the streets to protest police brutality towards black folks and systemic racism within the wake of George Floyd’s dying.
In lots of locations, communities have moved to take down statues of former slaveholders — or topple them — and take away the Accomplice emblem from imagery together with Mississippi’s state flag, in addition to rename buildings and establishments which are named after folks deemed to have held racist views or dedicated racist acts.
Fox Information’ Adam Shaw and The Related Press contributed to this report