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Democrats want John Wayne Airport's name changed because iconic actor held 'white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views'


One professor called Wayne's statue in the California airport 'Orange County's Confederate monument'

Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Democrats in Orange County, California, want the county's Board of Supervisors to change the name of John Wayne Airport due to the iconic actor's "white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views," KCBS-TV reported.

What are the details?

The OC Democratic Party said Friday's resolution is part of a "national movement to remove white supremacist symbols and names… [that produce] lasting physical and psychological stress and trauma, particularly to Black communities," the station said, adding that the resolution also calls for the reinstatement of the airport's original name, Orange County Airport.

County Democrats asked Fred Smoller — a Chapman University professor who's written about the issue — to speak to KCBS, and in a video interview he said that "our John Wayne statue [in the airport] is Orange County's Confederate monument."

Image source: KCAL-TV video screenshot

Smoller added to KCBS that "the same way those monuments are coming down across the nation, I believe this monument should be removed and the airport returned to its original name which it had for 41 years, the Orange County Airport."

Image source: KCAL-TV video screenshot

According its website, the airport "was renamed by the Orange County Board of Supervisors on June 20, 1979, to honor the late John Wayne. To commemorate the Airport's namesake, the John Wayne Associates commissioned sculptor Robert Summers to create a bronze statue of 'The Duke.' The 9-foot statue, created at the Hoka Hey Foundry in Dublin, Texas, was dedicated to the County on November 4, 1982, and installed on a pedestal outside the Eddie Martin Terminal."

What's the beef?

The station said county Democrats referred to Wayne's 1971 Playboy magazine interview as to why they want the airport's name changed.

In part of the interview, Wayne was told that activist Angela Davis "claims that those who would revoke her teaching credentials on ideological grounds are actually discriminating against her because she's black. Do you think there's any truth in that?"

Wayne replied, "With a lot of blacks, there's quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But 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."

He also said, "I don't feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves. Now, I'm not condoning slavery. It's just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and has to wear braces so he can't play football with the rest of us. I will say this, though: I think any black who can compete with a white today can get a better break than a white man. I wish they'd tell me where in the world they have it better than right here in America."

Speaking about Native Americans, Wayne said, "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. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves."

And when asked what movies he would characterize as "perverted," Wayne named 1969's "Midnight Cowboy" — which starred Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight — and asked, "Wouldn't you say that the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two f**s, qualifies?"

Anything else?

KCBS said airport officials have declined to comment and noted that it's up to the board of supervisors to decide on any name change.

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