John Wayne’s son defends star’s white supremacy comment: ‘He’d have pulled those officers off of George Floyd’

Wayne, during an interview with Playboy in 1971, admitted to being a white supremacist. He also expressed derogatory views of black people and Native Americans


                            John Wayne’s son defends star’s white supremacy comment: ‘He’d have pulled those officers off of George Floyd’
(Getty Images)

Amid calls for actor John Wayne's name and statue to be removed from an Orange County airport in California, his family has defended the screen icon dismissing claims of him being racist. Wayne, during an interview with Playboy in 1971, admitted to being a white supremacist. He also expressed derogatory views of black people, Native Americans during the same interview, and denounced films featuring gay characters. 

Wayne's family, however, dismissed his comments made in the 1971 interview calling it a "single outlier interview from half a century ago" that does not represent him.  The actor's son, Ethan Wayne, released a statement defending his late father, saying the word racist is "casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously. I also understand how we got to this point." Ethan insisted that his father "was not a racist."

"There is no question the words spoken by John Wayne in an interview 50 years ago have caused pain and anger. They pained him as well, as he realized his true feelings were wrongly conveyed," Ethan said. "The truth is, as we have seen in papers from his archives, he did not support 'white supremacy' in any way and believes that responsible people should gain power without the use of violence." 

Ethan's statement also added that his father hired and worked with people of all "races, creeds and sexual orientations." He continued: "John Wayne stood for the very best of all of us -- a society that doesn't discriminate against anyone seeking the American dream." He added that the "current focus on social justice is absolutely valid and necessary. But attempts by some to use it for political advantage distract from real opportunities for reform." Wayne "would be in the forefront demanding fairness and justice for all people. 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."

"It would be an injustice to judge him based on a single interview, as opposed to the full picture of who he was," Ethan added. 

The Orange County Democratic Party, in a resolution over the weekend, called for his name to be removed from the local airport. Wayne, the  macho star of westerns like 'True Grit', held "white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views," the party said. The resolution also noted that the Orange County population has grown more diverse since 1979, the year Wayne died and the airport was named for him. "They have called for its name to be restored to Orange County Airport," the resolution stated. 

The Wayne family's defense comes shortly after President Donald Trump on Monday, June 29, slammed the proposed move to remove the late actor's name from the California airport. "Now the Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport. Incredible stupidity!" Trump tweeted. The president recently also denounced the decision by Princeton University to take down the name of former President Woodrow Wilson from its prestigious public school.

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