John Wayne's son has expressed dismay over demands to remove the movie star's name from an Orange County, California airport due to alleged ties to racism.
Local politicians have called for a rebranding of the John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana over comments the late actor made about the black, Native American and LGBTQ+ communities in a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine.
During the chat, the True Grit star reportedly said: "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."
The Western film actor, who died in 1979, said he felt no remorse in the subjugation of Native Americans, sharing: "I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them... Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival." Wayne also used a homophobic slur.
But Wayne's son, Ethan, has insisted his father was not a racist, stating: "I know that term is casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously."
Ethan told Fox News: "There is no question that the words spoken by John Wayne in an interview 50 years ago have caused pain and anger," but that Wayne's "true feelings were wrongly conveyed." Ethan asserted his father did not support white supremacy in any way.
Recalling the death of George Floyd last month, which sparked the recent Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality, Ethan added, "(John Wayne) would have pulled those officers off of George Floyd, because that was the right thing to do. He would stand for everyone’s right to protest and work toward change."