Democrats call for John Wayne airport to be renamed and statue removed

29 June 2020, 11:26

John Wayne Airport Statue
John Wayne Airport Statue. Picture: Getty
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

John Wayne's name and statue could be stripped from California's Orange Country airport because of his racist and bigoted comments.

Officials from the Democratic Party of Orange County (DPOC) have issued an emergency resolution to rename the airport, due to a number of racist comments the actor, born Marion Robert Morrison, and restore the original name Orange County Airport.

"Orange County is now a diverse region far different from the time when John Wayne was chosen as namesake for the airport," the DPOC wrote. The John Wayne Airport was given that name in 1979, the same year the actor died.

According to those who crafted the resolution, the effort to oust Wayne, a longtime resident of Orange County who died in 1979, is part of "a national movement to remove white supremacist symbols and names (that are) reshaping American institutions, monuments, businesses, nonprofits, sports leagues and teams".

In a 1971 Playboy magazine interview, Wayne made bigoted statements against black people, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community.

He reportedly said: "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 said.

Wayne also said that although he did not condone slavery: "I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves."

The actor said he felt no remorse in the subjugation of Native Americans.

"I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. ... Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival," he said.

"There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves."

Wayne also called movies such as Easy Rider and Midnight Cowboy perverted and used a gay slur to refer to the two main characters of the latter film.

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner told the newspaper that he had just heard about the Democratic resolution and was unaware of its wording or merit.