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The 'Duke's' comments from 1971 have sparked outrage, debate
Critics are calling for Hollywood icon John Wayne's name to be removed from an airport honoring him, after comments he made in 1971 resurfaced last week.
In an interview with Playboy magazine, the late legendary actor made remarks widely slammed as racist and homophobic — even for the time — sparking a modern debate over how long controversial statements should be held against individuals.
What are the details?
Wayne made critical comments regarding blacks, Native Americans, homosexuals, young people, and liberals to the magazine. In light of the viral outrage regarding his statements, columnist Michael Hiltzik penned a column in the Los Angeles Times calling for the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, to be renamed.
Hiltzik argued, "Orange County today is such an economically and ethnically diverse community that it's hard to justify asking any member of that community to board planes at an airport named after an outspoken racist and homophobe, with his strutting statue occupying a central niche in front of the concourse," referring to the 9-foot bronze statue of the "Duke" on the airport grounds.
The Washington Examiner's Madeline Fry penned a piece in response to Hiltzik's, saying Wayne's name should stay in place on the airport "for now." Fry's position was that "the actor's opinions have been in print for almost 50 years and, contrary to what some may think, they were problematic back then, too."
She added, "Removing his name from Orange County's airport now only validates what many Americans are coming to believe: You can't say anything anymore, darn it, without being discovered and punished by the mob."
Fry went on to note that it would cost "hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars" to rename the airport, and urged folks not to "become a reactionary."
Writing in the Western Journal's Conservative Tribune, C. Douglas Golden presented both sides of the debate over the airport, but added another component to the public discussion, saying, "Perhaps it's worth noting, too, that the PC police only seem to get themselves worked up about the imprecations of individuals who happen to be conservative."
Golden cited examples of anti-Semitic remarks made by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and homophobic name-calling by John F. Kennedy. He noted that both men have numerous buildings and landmarks adorned with their names, but there is no discussion of expunging their legacies.
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