The Washington Post reported that California has shot down John Wayne Day. Republican Assembly member Matthew Harper, of Huntington Beach, wanted to commemorate Wayne’s May 26 birthday into a holiday. Harper said, “John Wayne was an important part of California’s history, and is especially important for Orange County.”
Just for good measure, Harper used the alumni angle. John Wayne once attended the University of Southern California (USC) on a football scholarship. Harper also attended USC and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Policy and Management. Harper even held up a “v” symbol to show his support for the college.
The resolution failed 35-20. Opposing voters didn’t support the resolution because they claimed Wayne was a racist. However, Fox News reports that Republican Assemblyman Donald Wagner defended Wayne by referring to President Franklin Roosevelt, who forced Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II. Wagner said that Roosevelt’s action didn’t denigrate his presidential legacy.
“Every one of us is imperfect,” Wagner said.
Those who opposed the resolution referred to comments Wayne had made in a 1971 “Playboy” interview about blacks and Native Americans. “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.”
Wayne had also commented that he supported the U.S. government taking land from the Native Americans. He said it was about survival and that Americans needed land the Indians wouldn’t share. Society has changed its views about racism and sexuality since the 1970s. In 1971, Wayne’s views about race were shared with many other Americans, which explains why his comments weren’t considered as inflammatory more than forty years ago.
Today’s generation is more tolerant of racial and sexually oriented topics than past generations. Current political leaders often make decisions based what they consider as politically correct.