Leftists want to rename John Wayne Airport because he was a racist...or something

An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times is calling for John Wayne's name to be removed from the airport in Orange County because of The Duke's racist, homophobic, and anti-Indian beliefs.

Most people familiar with the life story of John Wayne are aware that the late movie star was a dyed-in-the-wool right-winger — after all, he was still making a movie glorifying America's conduct of the Vietnam War ("The Green Berets," 1968) well after the country had begun to get sick of the conflict.

But the resurrection of a 1971 interview Wayne gave to Playboy magazine has underscored the sheer crudeness of the actor's feelings about gay people, black people, Native Americans, young people and liberals.

A writer who spends 3,000 words trashing conservatives is concerned how Wayne viewed liberals?  Sheesh.

This doesn't necessarily mean that it's impossible or immoral to enjoy Westerns and war movies starring John Wayne; that's a personal choice.  But it certainly undermines any justification for his name and image to adorn a civic facility.

Is it really "immoral" to enjoy any movie?  Maybe watching Triumph of the Will is questionable, but as a piece of propaganda, it is unparalleled.  It is not moral or immoral to enjoy — or hate — watching any movie.  The writer is instructing us the "proper" way to think — as he does throughout his piece.

Certainly, Wayne's beliefs were based on rancid stereotypes and urban myths that most people had abandoned by the time the interview in Playboy appeared in 1971. 

A few examples:

PLAYBOY: What kind of films do you consider perverted?

WAYNE: Oh, Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy — that kind of thing.  Wouldn't you say that the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two fags, qualifies?

Wayne's views on African-Americans were particularly obnoxious:

WAYNE: With a lot of blacks, there's quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But 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.

The context in which the term "white supremacy" is used in 1971 differs from today.  But it's still an odious way to think.

Wayne's views on Native Americans need to be included in their entirety:

PLAYBOY: How do you feel about the government grant for a university and cultural center that these Indians [then encamped on Alcatraz Island] have demanded as "reparations"?

WAYNE: What happened between their forefathers and our forefathers is so far back — right, wrong or indifferent — that I don't see why we owe them anything. I don't know why the government should give them something that it wouldn't give me.

PLAYBOY: Do you think they've had the same advantages and opportunities that you've had?

WAYNE: I'm not gonna give you one of those I-was-a-poor-boy-and-I-pulled-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps stories, but I've gone without a meal or two in my life, and I still don't expect the government to turn over any of its territory to me.  Hard times aren't something I can blame my fellow citizens for.  Years ago, I didn't have all the opportunities, either.  But you can't whine and bellyache 'cause somebody else got a good break and you didn't, like these Indians are.  We'll all be on a reservation soon if the socialists keep subsidizing groups like them with our tax money.

To say that Wayne's beliefs were a product of the times in which he lived would not be accurate.  His views on blacks were antebellum.  Considering how much money he made off Native Americans, he had surprisingly little empathy for them.  And even in 1971, people knew enough not to refer to gay people as "fags."

So that's it?  We are to judge John Wayne based on his view of race and sexual orientation?  Should we judge Martin Luther King solely on his utter failure to be faithful to his wife?  The left wouldn't like that at all.  Or perhaps we should judge leftist icons like Ted Kennedy on treatment of women, including leaving a young girl to die in a submerged car?

John Wayne believed in stereotypes.  He was wrong to do so.  But how can you judge anyone without looking at the totality of his life?  It's easy for the left to take titans like Washington and Jefferson and trash them because they were slave-owners.  The fact that they created the freest, most prosperous nation on Earth is erased from history.  It doesn't mean their slave-owning is excused.  It means that sin is placed on the scales of history and weighed against all other accomplishments — and failures — of their lives.  To do any less does a massive disservice to history and the memory of notable historical figures.

For most of his professional life, John Wayne became the face of America — strong, independent, incorruptible, and willing to die to do what was right.  He treated women with respect, defending their honor and their children.  And he was willing to face evil, though he be outnumbered and outgunned, usually triumphing in the end.  His personae defined American for tens of millions of people around the world for decades.

Oh, yes...and he loved America. 

That's what seems to be the bug up the arse of this writer.  John Wayne was an unabashed patriot.  His love of country was uncomplicated.  That's why, toward the end of his life, he was vilified and hated by leftists around the world — not for who he was, but for whom he played on screen.  They knew that the masses loved The Duke, and to advance their political agenda, they needed to tear him down, discredit him, and discredit what he stood for.

That they succeeded at all is a shame.  America could do a lot worse than have icons like John Wayne represent us to the rest of the world.

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