John Wayne in 1961. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
John Wayne in 1961. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

John Wayne‘s son says the California State Assembly was “unfair” when it rejected a proposed “John Wayne Day” over racist comments made by the actor decades ago.

Ethan Wayne said his father ” had a great respect for all people no matter what color race or sexual preference they were.” In a statement released Sunday, he said John Wayne taught his children “to treat all people the same.”

Thirty-five Assembly members voted last week to honor the iconic actor, a conservative voice who supported Republican causes. The measure, authored by Republican Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach, needed 41 votes to pass.

Harper blasted the decision as a result of “political correctness.”

But Democrats in Sacramento pointed to an infamous 1971 interview that Wayne gave to Playboy magazine, where he said “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 also defended the wars against Indians depicted in his movies.

“Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival,” he told Playboy. “There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”

Wayne’s son today said “it’s unfair to judge someone on something that was said 44 years ago in an entirely different era.

“He felt strongly that things should be earned, and not given to someone simply because they were a man or woman or one race or another.” Ethan Wayne said.

The younger Wayne said the Assembly vote came up without notice to the family, and it was not fair for a vote to come up without the family being there to defend him.

Numerous Democrats told Sacramento reporters that they appreciated Wayne the actor but felt Wayne made racist and inappropriate comments, even by 1971 standards.

Wayne died in 1979 at age 72, after a career that started as a bit-part actor in 1930 and crested with an Academy Award for “True Grit” in 1969. The airport in Orange County is named for Wayne, who had a residence in the area.

–City News Service

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