In the latest move to change USA place names tied to racist groups and ideas, leaders of Orange County's Democratic Party are pushing to drop film legend John Wayne's name from the county's airport because of his racist and bigoted comments.
Regional politicians have identified as for a rebranding of the John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana more than reviews the late actor manufactured about the black, Indigenous American and LGBTQ+ communities in a 1971 job interview with Playboy journal.
The interview saw Wayne express vocal support for white supremacy, use a homophobic slur to refer to actors in Midnight Cowboy, said he felt no remorse over slavery or the treatment of Indigenous Americans - adding that the latter had "selfishly" kept land for themselves.
News of this development elicited a somewhat mixed reaction online, as while some people seemed to approve of this initiative, others criticized it.
Despite the published comments, in a statement to TMZ, Ethan Wayne, son of John Wayne, makes his claim that his father was actually not racist. I don't believe in giving responsibilities and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible individuals.
He cited "thousands of heroes who have called Orange County home there are several examples of sacrifice worthy of having their names immortalised on an airport", listing several war heroes from the area who the airport could be named after.
The push to oust Wayne, who was a longtime county resident, from the airport's name has a lengthy history. "They pained him as well, as he realized his true feelings were wrongly conveyed".
"Since his death more than 40 years ago, his legacy continues through the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, which has helped provide courage, strength and grit to the fight against cancer, and through his extensive film library". He hired and worked with people of all races, creeds, and sexual orientation.
"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". "We're seeing renewed calls for this right now, and it's time for change".
The airport was renamed to honour the actor, who lived nearby, after he died in 1979.
He concluded his statement: "My father believed that we can learn from yesterday, but not by erasing the past. His name, no matter where it is, will always embody these values, and our family knows the positive impact that he made on the world will never be diminished", he finished.
The demands come off the back of the Black Lives Matter movement gaining public attention and traction after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by police in Minneapolis while he was being restrained. The comments by John Wayne from 50 years ago are wrong and sad from someone who so many people across America hold in high regard.