John Wayne’s Racist Comments in 1971 Interview Spark Renewed Controversy

And so, many people have come to the simple conclusion that John Wayne’s name shouldn’t be attached to an airport. Naturally, there are plenty of dissenters who claim that one interview containing racist opinions shouldn’t preclude one from having an airport named in their honor. Among them is Ethan Wayne, John Wayne’s son. In a 2019 interview, he said that the Playboy interview was being taken out of context, and that his father “took everyone at face value.”

“[A]ny discussion of removing his name from the airport should include the full picture of the life of John Wayne and not be based on a single outlier interview from half a century ago,” he said. The Democratic Party of Orange County disagrees. Having passed the resolution to restore the name of the airport, the final decision now lies with the Orange County Board of Supervisors. 

As people across the country continue to grapple with the United States’ racist past (and present!), John Wayne’s 1971 interview probably doesn’t stick out as the most egregious thing ever. Still, while we’re removing statues of other problematic dead guys, perhaps it’s time for this one to ride into the sunset forever, as well.

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