John Wayne’s son has lashed out at calls to dump his dad’s name from a California airport, insisting his dad “was not a racist” — and would even have “pulled those officers off of George Floyd” were he alive.
Ethan Wayne told Fox News Monday that it would be an “injustice” to rename John Wayne Airport in Orange County because of a 1971 interview in which his father said he supported white supremacy and dismissed the pain of slavery.
“Let me make one thing clear — John Wayne was not a racist,” the actor’s 58-year-old son told Fox News.
Ethan acknowledged the “pain and anger” caused by the bigoted words in his dad’s 1971 Playboy article, but said it was an “injustice to judge him based on a single interview” where his “feelings were wrongly conveyed.”
“The truth is … he did not support ‘white supremacy’ in any way and believed that responsible people should gain power without the use of violence,” Ethan told Fox.
“He called out bigotry when he saw it. He hired and worked with people of all races, creeds, and sexual orientations.
“John Wayne stood for the very best for all of us — a society that doesn’t discriminate against anyone seeking the American dream.”
In fact, his dad — who was 72 when he died from cancer in 1979 — “would be in the forefront demanding fairness and justice for all people” if he were alive today, his son insisted to the network.
“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,” he told Fox.
“The current focus on social justice is absolutely valid and necessary. But attempts by some to use it for political advantage distracts from real opportunities for reform,” insisted Ethan, the president of John Wayne Enterprises.
In his damning Playboy interview, Wayne had said, “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.”
“I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves,” he also insisted.
As a part of the trend to remove memories of America’s racist past, leaders of Orange County’s Democratic Party used the almost-50 years old interview to campaign to dump his name from the area’s airport.
“An international airport that serves millions of people each year should not be named for someone who, in real life, opposed our nation’s values of opportunity and justice for all,” Ada Briceño, chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, said in a statement. “Now is the time for change.”
The airport was renamed in his honor in 1979 — the year he died — and a statue of Wayne was also erected on site in 1982.
With Post wires