John Wayne's son is speaking out after California Democrats in Orange County recently demanded that the county's John Wayne Airport be renamed and all likenesses of Wayne be removed from the airport, over "racist and bigoted statements" made by the American icon decades ago.
Now the Democratic Party of Orange Country has passed an emergency resolution calling for the airport to revert back to its original name of Orange County Airport.
According to TMZ, John Wayne famously said to Playboy Magzine in 1971 that he believed in "white supremacy" because black Americans were not "educated to a point of responsibility".
The Santa Ana airport was renamed in honor of the Western star, who lived in Newport Beach, after his death in 1979.
Wayne's family has dismissed the Playboy interview comments as a "single outlier interview from half a century ago" that does not represent him. "I don't believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people", he said in that interview almost 50 years ago. "But some blacks have tried to force the issue and enter college when they haven't passed the tests and don't have the requisite background". Wayne also used a homophobic slur.
"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.
The actor added he felt no remorse in the subjugation of Native Americans. The fact that we have supposedly stolen the country 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'. But you can't whine and bellyache 'cause somebody else got a good break and you didn't, like these Indians are.
Wayne's son Ethan has since responded and said in a statement to Fox News that his father was "not a racist" and added that his father was "pained" by his Playboy interview, as he "realised his true feelings were wrongly conveyed". They should pay as much for Alcatraz as we paid them for Manhattan. "I don't know why the government should give them something that it wouldn't give me".
But Wayne's son, Ethan Wayne, insists his father was not a racist, stating, "I know that term is casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously".
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He cited "thousands of heroes who have called Orange County home there are several examples of sacrifice worthy of having their names immortalised on an airport", listing several war heroes from the area who the airport could be named after. 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. She said Wayne also supported USA military personnel and Vietnamese refugees who arrived fleeing communism.