California Democrats in Orange County have passed a resolution demanding that the county’s John Wayne Airport be renamed. But there’s more: They want likenesses of Wayne — photos, statues, everything — removed from the airport, which was named in his honor in 1979, shortly after the western actor died.
“The Democratic Party of Orange County condemns John Wayne’s racist and bigoted statements, and calls for John Waynes’ [sic] name and likeness to be removed from the Orange County airport, and calls on the OC Board of Supervisors to restore its original name: Orange County Airport,” says the resolution, passed Friday.
The board cited remarks Wayne made in a 1971 interview with Playboy.
“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 in the interview 49 years ago. “I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves,” he said at another point.
The demand comes as liberals across the country are pushing to tear down monuments and rename buildings and institutions that they deem to be racist.
The Democrats’ resolution applauds a “national movement to remove white supremacist symbols and names [that is] reshaping American institutions, monuments, businesses, nonprofits, sports leagues, and teams, as it is widely recognized that racist symbols produce lasting physical and psychological stress and trauma particularly to Black communities, people of color and other oppressed groups, and the removal of racist symbols provides a necessary process for communities to remember historic acts of violence and recognize victims of oppression.”
Ada Briceño, chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County, told The Los Angeles Times that the resolution is not the first attempt to rename the airport, but, she added, said the time has come.
“There have been past efforts to get this done and now we’re putting our name and our backing into this to make sure there is a name change,” Briceño told The Times.
Said The Times: “Democrats point to a Chapman University survey released earlier this year that said 79% of county residents polled believe ‘that O.C.’s increasing ethnic diversity is a source of great strength for the region.’”
Wayne, who starred in dozens of movies, including “Stagecoach” in 1939 and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” in 1962, also addressed Native Americans in his Playboy interview.
“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. … [O]ur 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.”
“He also considered 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,” The Times said.