Fred Smoller and Dr. Michael Moodian are two of the three politicians in Orange County, Calif., whose titles are recorded on the resolution which calls for John Wayne’s name and likenesses to be eliminated from the airport over his previous”racist and bigoted statements” decades ago. In a statement to Fox News, they call out the actor’s son for proclaiming that John Wayne was not a racist.
“It’s commendable — though not surprising — that Ethan Wayne could come to the defense of the famous father. However, there is nothing in the historical record to support Ethan’s assertion that’when John Wayne were here now, he’d be in the forefront demanding equity and justice for all people,’ and that,’He’d have pulled those officers off of George Floyd, because that was the ideal thing to do. He’d stand for everyone’s right to protest and work toward change. ”’
Ethan Wayne, 8, gets a hug from dad, John Wayne, after filming a shootout scene in’The Million Dollar Kidnapping.’
Smoller and Moodian authored the op-ed that kicked off the campaign to navigate the John Wayne Airport. They denounced the statement Ethan Wayne gave to Fox News on Monday, in which he explained that the late actor’s 1971 interview with Playboy didn’t convey his”true feelings.”
In the interview at the time, John Wayne is quoted saying,”I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I really don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and decision to irresponsible individuals.” He also said he felt no remorse for its subjugation of Native Americans and called films like”Easy Rider” and”Midnight Cowboy” perverted.
“When John Wayne had the liberty of a public discussion and megaphone, he clearly expressed his view that other people were inferior and undeserving of an equal place in society. He was dismissive of historic atrocities. He ridiculed advocacy for equality and equity,” both continued in their joint statement to Fox News.
The pair of California Democrats contended that Wayne”had no kind words for its societal movements of the 1960s by that blacks, women, LGBTQ+ community members, and Native Americans fought for’equity and justice for all people. ”’
They also claimed that if John Wayne were living today, he probably wouldn’t have decried George Floyd’s departure.
“He lived in a time he might have chosen to perform or simply state the’correct’ thing. He didn’t. Oppressive views and his words were equally as wrong then as they are now. If he had been with us today, we think it is far more likely that he could have arrived at the defense of Donald Trump instead of George Floyd.”
Unspecified – 1970: John Wayne, behind the scenes of the making of’Rio Lobo’, for the ABC special’Plimpton! Shoot-Out in Rio Lobo’.
Smoller and Moodian’s comments come after Ethan Wayne stepped up to bat because of his late father. In a statement to Fox News on Monday, Ethan said:”I want to make one thing clear — John Wayne was not a racist. I am aware that term is tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously. I also know just how we got to the stage.
“There is no question that the words spoken by John Wayne in a interview 50 years back have caused anger and pain,” Ethan continued, referencing the late actor’s 1971 Playboy interview. “They pained him as well, as he realized his true feelings were wrongly hauled.”
Ethan, who’s Wayne’s youngest son and president of John Wayne Enterprises, went on to say in his statement on Monday:”The stark reality is, as we’ve seen in papers from his writings, he did not support’white supremacy’ in any way and thought responsible people should acquire power without using violence.
“People who knew himknew he guessed everyone as an individual and believed everyone deserved an equal opportunity,” Ethan added. “He called out bigotry when he watched it. He also hired and worked with people of all races, creeds, and sexual orientations. John Wayne stood to the very best for all people — a society that does not discriminate against anyone looking for the American dream.”
Ethan reported that it”would be an insult to judge him based on a single interview, instead of the full picture of who he was.”
“The current emphasis on social justice is absolutely valid and necessary. But efforts by a few to use it for political advantage distract from real opportunities for reform,” he said.
The 58-year old also clarified what his father would have done if he was still alive today.
“One thing we know — if John Wayne were here today, he’d be in the forefront demanding fairness and justice for all people,” Ethan said. “He’d have pulled those officers off of George Floyd, since that was the ideal thing to do. He’d stand for everyone’s right to protest and work toward change.”
Wayne passed away at age 72 from cancer in 1979.
“Since his departure more than 40 years ago, his legacy continues through the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, which has helped provide courage, endurance and strength into the fight against cancer, and during his extensive film library. My father believed that we could learn from yesterday, but not by erasing the past. His title, regardless of where it is, will always reveal these values, and also our loved ones understands the positive impact that he made on the planet will never be diminished,” Ethan concluded his announcement.
The drive to oust Wayne, that had been a longtime county resident, from the airport name has a lengthy history. The airport, which is in the center of Orange County, dates back decades and county officials voted to alter the title.
Deanne Thompson, an airport spokeswoman, has previously said the county does not have any plans to change the name or remove a statue of Wayne in the airport, although the issue comes up periodically, including last year.
In most places, communities have proceeded to take down statues of former slaveholders — or topple them — and remove the Confederate symbol from imagery such as Mississippi’s state flag, in addition to rename buildings and associations which are named after individuals believed to have held racist views or dedicated racist acts.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Mariah Haas and Stephanie Nolasco, in addition to The Associated Press, contributed to this report.