Rename the John Wayne Airport?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
There have been calls for the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California to be renamed after an old interview with the actor resurfaced.
Wayne discussed his racist and homophobic views with Playboy in 1971.
Critics say that the airport "unavoidably honours someone's racism" by being linked with the actor.
However, Ethan Wayne has defended his father, who died in 1979, saying that he was "always fair, inclusive and compassionate"
The Orange County Register's David Whiting argues that it is time to rename John Wayne Airport.
He says that it is "hard to justify" linking the actor and his racist views with an international airport.
Whiting writes: "At a time in which the pain of racism arises all too often, Wayne's beliefs are something Orange County, and particularly our elected officials, can no longer ignore...
"What was OK in the late 1970s when supervisors named JWA is not necessarily OK in today's world - and perhaps it never should have been acceptable.
"When I drive by or fly out of John Wayne Airport, a place most of us simply refer to as 'John Wayne', I don't always think about the actor and his dark statements.
"But when I do, I am troubled."
He adds that buying an airline ticket that "unavoidably honours someone's racism" is an "insult".
However, the late actor, who died in 1979, has been defended by his son, Ethan Wayne. He says that there is no reason to change the name of the airport.
Wayne defends that his father, saying that his views evolved over time - and he was "always fair, inclusive and compassionate".
He argues: "He hired, worked with and was friends with people of all races, religions, politics, and sexual orientations. His three wives were Hispanic.
"He believed everyone should have equal opportunities, and if they were willing to work hard they should have the opportunity to succeed.
"He believed in freedom of speech, often saying he may not believe in someone’s views, but he would defend their right to say them to the end."
What did John Wayne say?
A 1971 interview with Wayne in Playboy resurfaced in February, showing the actor expressing racist and homophobic views. He told interviewer Richard Lewis that he believed in white supremacy.
The actor said: "We can't all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks.
"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 told Playboy: "I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.
"Now, I’m not condoning slavery. It’s just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and has to wear braces so he can’t play football with the rest of us."
Wayne also discussed "perversion" in movies, referencing Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy. He said: "Wouldn't you say that the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two fags, qualifies?
"But don't get me wrong. As far as a man and a woman is concerned, I'm awfully happy there's a thing called sex."
The actor also shared his views on Native Americans: "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."