John Wayne’s son Ethan came out in defense of his father after Democrats in Orange County attacked the elder Wayne as racist and voted to change the name of John Wayne Airport.
Ethan, who is now 58, said his father — if he came upon the scene — would have saved George Floyd’s life. He added that the now-infamous Playboy interview, where Wayne supposedly said he was in favor of “white supremacy,” did not accurately convey what he believed:
There is no question that the words spoken by John Wayne in an interview 50 years ago have caused pain and anger. They pained him as well, as he realized his true feelings were wrongly conveyed. The truth is, as we have seen in papers from his archives, he did not support “white supremacy” in any way and believed that responsible people should gain power without the use of violence. Those who knew him, knew he judged everyone as an individual and believed everyone deserved an equal opportunity. He called out bigotry when he saw it. He hired and worked with people of all races, creeds and sexual orientations.
It would be an injustice to judge him based on a single interview, as opposed to the full picture of who he was. The current focus on social justice is absolutely valid and necessary. But attempts by some to use it for political advantage distract from real opportunities for reform.
“One thing we know — if John Wayne were here today, he would be in the forefront demanding fairness and justice for all people,” he adds. “He would have pulled those officers off of George Floyd, because that was the right thing to do. He would stand for everyone’s right to protest and work toward change.”
Anyone who is at all familiar with John Wayne knows this is true.
Honestly, would a white supremacist marry and have children with his three Hispanic wives?
Wayne was famous for his tolerance in Hollywood, especially of those who disagreed with his politics. There were few things he enjoyed more than sitting down to a game of chess while debating politics, especially with someone from the left.
What’s more, nothing is more grossly unfair than judging a full man by one moment, one sentence… You have to judge the entire man.
For example. why doesn’t anyone point out that in the same Playboy interview, Wayne agreed that “With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with the dissent, and probably rightfully so.”
How about the fact Duke Wayne despised George Wallace, the Democrat governor of Alabama, and arch-segregationist…?
In his superb 2014 biography of the superstar, Scott Eyman talks at length about the Playboy interview, but offers the broader context of the overall man:
While Wayne didn’t care for the 1964 Civil Rights Act — he felt it violated the rights of property owners — he blamed white supremacists for the civil rights movement. The Fifteenth Amendment, he believed, clearly gave everybody the right to vote. “If blacks had been allowed to vote all along,” he told Mary St. John, “We wouldn’t have all this horseshit going on. George Wallace is part of the goddamned problem, not the solution.”
Eyman also reminds us that as a young man Wayne would beat the crap out of racists:
Once in a discursive conversation, Wayne displayed his sense of fair play. “I didn’t know about Jews, niggers, or Japs until I went to college. At Glendale High we had ’em all — and on the football team if any guy called a Japanese fella a Jap, we took him off the field, but not before a bunch of us took our turn at ’em. We all shared the fact that we were poor and struggling and there wasn’t time to show prejudice. We only felt together.”
When asked about the burgeoning gay rights movement and homosexuality — remember this was more than 40 years ago, Wayne admitted he found it abnormal, but added:
Now as far as them living their own life, I feel a man has a right to live his life the way he wishes — as long as he doesn’t interfere with my rights. So I have nothing against them, but I certainly see no reason to jump for joy about it.
Everyone in Hollywood knew Rock Hudson was gay. Wayne didn’t care. In 1969, when they made The Undefeated together, Wayne was already a legend and Hudson’s career was near dead. Wayne not only agreed to work with Hudson, they became fast friends. Hudson arrived on set expecting intolerance or to be ostracized. Instead, Wayne immediately befriended him.
When he was asked about his friendship with Hudson, with a homosexual, Wayne said, “It never bothered me. Life’s too short. Who the hell cares if he’s queer? The man plays great chess.”
John Wayne was a good man. In every respect, he was a decent and tolerant man, a believer in and advocate for everyone getting their shot at the American Dream, everyone being treated fairly. He firmly believed in that most American of ideals: live and let live, no matter who you were.
Good grief, it was just a few months ago that Joe Biden praised segregationists, just a few weeks ago he told black people they “ain’t black” unless they vote for him, just three years ago that Biden appeared to use the word “roaches” to describe black children, just last year when he said “white kids” are smarter than other kids….
But the same Democrats in Orange County who are going to vote to make Biden president are canceling John Wayne over something he said 50 years ago that in no way symbolized what he truly believed.
They might get away with it, but we all see through them.
Joe Biden is a racist. John Wayne was not.