Lawmakers in Orange County, California are demanding that the John Wayne Airport, which is located in the county, be renamed. They are also calling on all likenesses of Wayne to be removed from the airport, including a statue. The order, which comes from The Democratic Party of Orange County, points to "racist and bigoted statements," made by Wayne a few years before his death. The coalition of lawmakers has asked the OC Board of Supervisors to restore the airport's original name, which was "Orange County Airport.”
The resolution reportedly passed on Friday, according to FOX News.
The resolution says that the push to rename the airport and remove Wayne's likeness is a part of a “national movement to remove white supremacist symbols and names."
In May 1971, Playboy magazine published an interview with Wayne, in which he expressed his support for the Vietnam War, and made headlines for his opinions about social issues and race relations in the United States. In the interview, Wayne openly expressed his affiliation with White supremacy. The interview had disappeared for many years but resurfaced in 2019 when America was a very different place.
"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. ... I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Indians. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves," Wayne said.
“I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves,” he said at another point in the interview.
Wayne also used a homophobic slur to describe the two lead characters in Midnight Cowboy during the interview.
John Wayne's son Ethan has previously defended him, saying that the interview was taken out of context. He has also said that the way his father is being judged for the interview is an "injustice."
This is just one of the latest examples of where the previous generation's heroes are being questioned by younger people. All over the world, statues are being taken down and products are being renamed because they represent a tradition that caused many people to suffer. Also today, we reported that a petition is circulating in Cleveland, Ohio, which calls or the city's statue of Christopher Columbus to be replaced with a statue of Chef Boyardee, a successful Italian immigrant who activists say is a better and more positive hero for the Italian-American community.
Statues of former presidents have also been targetted by protesters in recent weeks, as it is being learned that many of them owned slaves and enthusiastically participated in the genocide of the Native American people. Statues of Andrew Jackson and other presidents have been targetted for this reason. Likewise, Princeton college has recently announced that they will be removing Woodrow Wilson's name from their facility, as he was one of the primary architects of segregation.