California lawmakers shot down a bill to make May 26 of 2016 official John Wayne day by citing various racial comments Wayne made during his life.
The bill was proposed by Assemblyman Matthew Harper of the Orange County district, the same district that houses the John Wayne Airport.
Other members of the California legislature were quick to point out some of Wayne’s more racist comments, like the time he defended America for stealing land from Native Americans because they were “selfishly keeping it to themselves,” or when he said he believed in white supremacy because blacks are “irresponsible people” but he’d consider giving them some rights if they were educated.
The bill was voted down 35-20 in the end, which Harper claims is the same as opposing things like apple pie and the Free Enterprise system. Just un-American. And it’s true that John Wayne represents a culture of America, but is it a culture that we want to be proud of?
Wayne was at his peak at the same time as the Civil Rights movement. He was a white man who played an American hero with other white people (unless he was shooting them, then they might have been a minority). You could try and argue that Wayne was a product of his time, but there were so many men and women who were fighting racial injustice at the same time that he was making blockbusters, so why not give the day to one of them?
Wayne was a talented and successful actor, but one who used his platform to further injustice and mistreatment. Let’s just be glad he wasn’t successful about that.