John Wayne’s son lashed out at the California State Assembly for rejecting a Huntington Beach legislator’s proposed “John Wayne Day” measure due to racist comments the screen legend made decades ago.
The Duke “had a great respect for all people no matter what color, race or sexual preference they were,” Ethan Wayne says in a statement released over the weekend.
The son—half-Perurvian due to his mother, Pilar Palette (quick note: all of John Wayne’s children are half-Latino ’cause he loved the spicy señoritas) added that his father taught his children “to treat all people the same.”
Thirty-five Assembly members voted last week to honor the late Newport Beach resident and John Wayne Airport namesake, but Assemblyman Matthew Harper’s (R-Huntington Beach) proposal needed six more yea votes to pass.
Harper blamed “political correctness,” but some Democrats pointed to a 1971 Playboy interview—hey, someone really did read the stories—that included Wayne saying “until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility” he did not “believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”
That’s pretty regodamndiculous itself, but Wayne in the interview also defended the wars against Indians depicted in his movies, saying, “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.”
Like Richard Nixon’s defenders have said of the racism and homophobia the then-president spewed on his secret Oval Office tapes, Ethan Wayne called it “unfair to judge someone on something that was said 44 years ago in an entirely different era.”
“… He felt strongly that things should be earned, and not given to someone simply because they were a man or woman or one race or another.”
The surviving Wayne also took a shot at Harper, saying it was unfair to take the measure to the Assembly without family members present to defend the Oscar winner who called Newport Beach home for decades (as has Ethan).