It Starts: LAT Columnist Argues for Removal of John Wayne's Name From Airport

An LA Times column that called for the removal of John Wayne’s name from California’s Orange County airport is stirring up a lot of debate on social media.


It all started after a 1971 interview the late actor did with Playboy magazine resurfaced earlier this week. Here are excerpts, via Mercury News:

In the Playboy interview, Wayne, then in his 60s and fresh off his Oscar win for “True Grit,” discussed a range of topics, from working in Hollywood to race and sex. One of the more noteworthy quotes in the interview came up in a discussion about African-American political activist and academic Angela Davis.

“With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so,” Wayne said. “But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”


Also in the interview, Wayne, whose Western films like “The Searchers” were accused of perpetuating stereotypes about Native Americans, accused Native Americans of “selfishly trying to keep (North America) to themselves.”

The Times columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Hiltzik, wrote in a Thursday piece that the “outspoken racist and homophobe”‘s views no longer represented Orange County. But more than that his argument seemed to boil down to being more about something else.


See if you spot it:

It may have had something to do with Wayne’s status as a rock-ribbed Republican conservative, which was Orange County’s self-image in that period.

But that Orange County no longer exists. That should be evident from the results of November’s election, in which voters turfed out the county’s last remaining GOP members of Congress — some of whom had embraced Donald Trump in a fruitless effort to save their careers–and elected an all-Democratic congressional delegation.

Orange County today is such an economically and ethnically diverse community that it’s hard to justify asking any member of that community to board planes at an airport named after an outspoken racist and homophobe, with his strutting statue occupying a central niche in front of the concourse.

Get it? This is really about politics to Hiltzik. The good Democrats of Orange County shouldn’t have to put up with being subjected to seeing the name and image of someone who was known as a “rock-ribbed Republican conservative” every time they have have to fly out of the county. Because safe spaces and stuff.

For anyone reading this who thinks, “Hey, this isn’t a big deal. It’s one columnist!” – remember this: It only takes one person to start a movement. Consider the fact that this interview resurfaced thanks to a guy on Twitter who has less than 1,000 followers. The Sunday tweet where he references the nearly 50-year-old interview has over 11,000 retweets as of this writing.


And a national conversation on the “issue” has now started.

So if you live in Orange County you might want to, as Joe Biden would say, “gird your loins” and prepare for the “REMOVE IT!” movement. It’s coming.

Because in spite of the strong likelihood that the vast majority of people who fly in and out of that airport are not offended by Wayne’s name and image, you will be made to care.


Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–


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