Trump and John Wayne's family defend actor over airport 'racism' row

Trump defends John Wayne after Democrats call for his name to be removed from airport for saying ‘I believe in white supremacy’ as his 91-year-old widow and son insist ‘he would have pulled those officers off of George Floyd’

  • President Donald Trump blasted a plan to drop John Wayne’s name from a California airport over racist comments he made in a 1971 Playboy interview
  • Wayne’s  family dismissed the interview as an outlier and not representative of the legendary actor’s character
  • Wayne’s son Ethan in a statement Monday said his father was ‘not a racist’ and objected to removing his father’s name and likeness from Orange County Airport
  • Short while after he put out the statement, his mother and actress Pillar Pallete, 91, made a rare appearance while holding her dog outside her California home

President Donald Trump rushed to the defense Monday of his movie idol John Wayne, after California Democrats called for the actor’s name to be removed from a local airport due to ‘racist’ comments. 

Wayne – the late, macho star of Hollywood westerns such as ‘True Grit’ – held ‘white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views,’ the Orange County Democratic Party said in a resolution calling for his name to be removed from the local airport. 

The Democrats’ resolution noted the population of Orange County, near Los Angeles, has grown far more diverse since 1979 – the year Wayne died, and the airport was named for him. They have called for its name to be restored to ‘Orange County Airport.’ 

Trump, who took issue with Princeton for removing President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its School of Public and International Affairs amid pressures similar to those calling for the removal of statues and monuments after George Floyd protests, ripped into the Democratic plan for the airport.

‘Now the Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport,’ tweeted Trump. ‘Incredible stupidity!’ 

US President Donald Trump leapt to the defense Monday of his movie idol John Wayne, after California Democrats called for the actor’s name to be removed from a local airport due to ‘racist’ comments

 The Orange County Democratic Party said in a resolution last week that Wayne’s name should come down from the county’s local airport (pictured) after noting that he held ‘white supremacist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Indigenous views’

President Donald Trump took issue with Princeton for removing President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its School of Public and International Affairs amid pressures similar to those calling for the removal of statues and monuments after George Floyd protests

Trump added to his disapproval the effort to rename John Wayne Airport, in a tweet Monday

The renaming comes at a time when historic statues and monuments are being removed across the country, as Americans grapple with the legacy of racism in the wake of the police-related slaying of George Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. 

Floyd, a 46-year-old black father of five, died after police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee on the man’s neck for almost nine minutes during an arrest.

Video footage of the incident taken by a bystander shows the slaying, which triggered Black Lives Matter protests that have followed calling for an end to police brutality and systematic racism.

The group, justifying the move, pointed to a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine, where Wayne was quoted saying ‘I believe in white supremacy’ and ‘I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.’ 

Wayne’s family has dismissed the Playboy interview comments as a ‘single outlier interview from half a century ago’ that does not represent him. 

Shortly after Wayne’s son Ethan put out a statement insisting his father ‘was not a racist,’ the actor’s widow Pillar Pallete, 91, made a rare appearance outside her home in Orange City. 

An image shows the widow holding her dog. Palette was married to Wayne until his death in 1979. 

Shortly after Wayne’s son Ethan put out a statement insisting his father ‘was not a racist,’ the actor’s widow Pillar Pallete, 91, made a rare appearance outside her home in Orange

Palette married Wayne in 1954. Both are pictured two years later on a trip to Tripoli. The couple remained together until the actor’s death in 1979

Ethan in a released statement makes note that the word racist is ‘casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously. I also understand how we got to this point.’

‘There is no question the words spoken by John Wayne in an interview 50 years ago have caused pain and anger, as he realized his true feelings were wrongly conveyed,’ the son explained.  

‘The truth is, as we have seen in papers from his archives, he did not support “white supremacy” in any way and believe that responsible people should gain power without the use of violence.’

The statement goes on to say that Wayne hired and worked with people of all ‘races, creeds and sexual orientations’. ‘John Wayne stood for the very best of all of us — a society that doesn’t discriminate against anyone seeking the American dream.’ 

A statement from John Wayne’s son Ethan notes that the word racist is ‘casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously. I also understand how we got to this point,’ he said, in a reference to George Floyd protests and calls for an end to systematic racism

Wayne is picture with his son Ethan around 1969

‘It would be an injustice to judge him based on a single interview, as opposed to the full picture of who he was,’ Wayne’s son wrote. 

He added that the ‘current focus on social justice is absolutely valid and necessary. But attempts by some to use it for political advantage distract from real opportunities for reform.’

Wayne, his son also said, ‘would be in the forefront demanding fairness and justice for all people. He 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.’ 

Wayne starred in more than 150 films over six decades. He was nominated for three Oscars, winning best actor for 1969’s ‘True Grit.’

Wayne’s family has dismissed the Playboy interview comments as a ‘single outlier interview from half a century ago’ that does not represent him. His son Ethan released a statement, pictured, insisting his father ‘was not a racist’

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