Is it time to rename Southern California’s John Wayne Airport?

Looking up at the appropriately named “Saddleback Mountain,” it’s easy to imagine John Wayne — the biggest cowboy movie star ever — stradling the twin peaks and riding off into the heavens.

But of course Duke, as he was called, wasn’t a real cowboy any more than he was, in a movie by the same name, a Green Beret.

Wayne, however, was, by his own admission, a “white supremacist.”

Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) loses control of the ball while driving against Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant (35) in the first quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 26, 2016. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

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At a time in which the pain of racism arises all too often, Wayne’s beliefs are something Orange County, and particularly our elected officials, can no longer ignore.

Yes, I’m talking about changing the name of an airport with the initials JWA.

Towering actor

By the time my grandparents moved to Orange County in 1965, Wayne — who lived in Newport Beach — was a legendary and beloved actor and that is something that no one can take away.

In 1939, Wayne rocketed to stardom in John Ford’s film “Stagecoach.” Six-foot-four, barrel-chested and weighing 240 pounds, he went on to appear in scores of movies, was a top box-office draw for three decades and won a best actor Oscar in 1969 for “True Grit.”

He boldly supported the Republican party in a Hollywood not exactly known for supporting the GOP. Yet Wayne’s stature was such that when the actor was nominated in 1979 for a Congressional Gold Medal, the “libs” — as some call Democrats today — supported the award.

In applauding the medal, Robert Aldrich, president of the Directors Guild of America, quipped, “It is important for you to know that I am a registered Democrat and, to my knowledge, share none of the political views espoused by Duke.”

Still, Aldrich declared, “Because of his courage, his dignity, his integrity, and because of his talents as an actor, his strength as a leader, his warmth as a human being throughout his illustrious career, he is entitled to a unique spot in our hearts and minds.”

The following year, President Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded Wayne the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Heck, on the year marking Wayne’s birthday centennial in 2007, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, inducted the actor into the California Hall of Fame.

But those were less examined times and arguably less informed times.

Three years ago, the California Legislature voted down a proposal to name Wayne’s birthday, May 26, “John Wayne Day.”

The reason? Wayne’s views on race.

On the record

In 1971, Wayne opened up in a lengthy Playboy magazine interview.

“We can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks,” Wayne told Richard Lewis, the interviewer. “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility.”

Now, Wayne was no fool and no …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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