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California Rejects ‘John Wayne Day’ over Old Racist Remarks

A resolution to honor silver screen hero John Wayne with his own holiday failed in California’s Democratic-dominated state Assembly last Thursday because of racist remarks he made over 30 years ago.

In an interview, Wayne had questioned the intelligence of African-Americans and whether Native Americans should own the land upon which they once lived.

Republican State Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach sought to declare May 26 Wayne’s birthday, as “John Wayne Day,” but his resolution (ACR-137) fell just six votes shy of the number it needed for passage.

Harper issued a written statement on the resolution being shot down, saying it was due to “the orthodoxy of political correctness.” According to the Daily Mail, Harper wrote: “Opposing the John Wayne Day resolution is like opposing apple pie, fireworks, baseball, the Free Enterprise system and the Fourth of July!”

The comments in question stemmed from a 1971 interview Wayne had conducted with Playboy magazine. In one of the comments, Wayne 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.”

Assemblyman Mike Gipson, a Democrat and African-American, told local NBC News affiliate “Certainly his movies are one thing, but in terms of his private life, and also his views, I find them very offensive.”

Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen reportedly told the Daily Mail that Wayne “stood for those big American values that we know and we love.” Fellow Republican assemblyman Donald Wagner (R-Irvine) pointed out that lawmakers have honored other controversial people in the past, citing American President Franklin Roosevelt, under whom the United States created Japanese internment camps during World War II.

Former Los Angeles Police Detective Thomas Marchetti penned a letter that he provided to Breitbart News, expressing his frustration and anger over the rejection “John Wayne Day.” He pointed out that in 2007, California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted John Wayne into the California Hall of Fame. Marchetti also wrote that liberal icons like the late Senators Ted Kennedy and George McGovern voted in favor of a bipartisan bill that passed unanimously one month after Wayne’s death in 1979 to honor him posthumously with the Congressional Gold Medal.

I was deeply troubled by the California Assembly refusing to honor the memory of John Wayne on his May 26th birthday. The Democrat Assembly members used Wayne’s political views and his Republican Party membership as the means to vote down a ceremonial day in his honor. Assemblyman Ajejo complained Wayne was a conservative who also supported in the 1950s, the House Un-American Activities Committee. Well so did it John F. Kennedy when he was in the Congress. JFK voted to fund the committee every year.

The standard Anti-Wayne attack is the quote from 1971 Playboy interview where he used the term “white supremacy.” The phrase was over the top but he was answering a question on political power sharing with Black communist Angela Davis and the Black Panthers. Wayne rejected any cooperation with 1960s style radicals. Should this remove his standing as one of California’s great heroes? No sir, anyone can find racially insensitive terms used by Democrat heroes like LBJ, FDR and Woodrow Wilson. Should we hold them to the same standard as John Wayne?

The actor John Wayne was loved by all Americans. Both Republican and Democrat. President Lyndon Johnson adored Wayne brought him to the White House several times and personally approved the US Military assisting in the making of the “Green Berets” movie. President Carter was also a fan who invited Wayne to his inauguration.  In 1979, President Carter said “Wayne was bigger than life. In an age of very few heroes, he was the genuine article. “Carter further awarded Wayne the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

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