"I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility," actor John Wayne said in a 1971 interview. Those views—and quite a few others—are catching up to him. The Democratic Party of Orange County wants Wayne's name removed from the California airport that has carried it since 1979, the year the Hollywood icon died. The Democrats' resolution cited Wayne's "racist and bigoted statements," per TMZ. Other efforts to change the signs in Santa Ana have gone nowhere, including one last year after the Playboy interview recirculated on Twitter, per Newsweek. Wayne, a committed opponent of Communism, was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Wayne's disparaging comments in the interview were wide-ranging. He referred to the gay characters in the film Midnight Cowboy with a homophobic slur. There was nothing wrong with seizing land from Native Americans, he said: "There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves." The airport was built on an old Army base, and the area also had a couple of major air bases. A oped in the Orange County Register said the area has been home to plenty of heroes who would better a better choice for an airport name. Their stories better express the county's values, state Sen. Thomas Umberg says. "We should be proud to tell our children who our airport is named after," he writes, "and why." (Ethan Wayne has defended his father.)