JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT & THE CURSE OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

A scene from John Ford’s DONAVAN’S REEF with Lee Marvin and John Wayne…re-imagined.

John Wayne Airport, located in Orange County, California, may be returning to it’s original name of Orange County International Airport. Why the name change? It appears to be the victim of political correctness run amok in the wake of protests condemning systematic racism. An interview John Wayne did in Playboy Magazine back in 1971 brought to re-examination his controversial philosophy when he stated, “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.”
Of course, the likes of John Wayne’s son, Ethan Wayne, denies his father’s bigotry in a recent statement.  All of this has come to light due to the growing protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd and others at the hands of law enforcement. My question is this: Sure, some times political correctness goes too far, but why in the world was an airport named after a movie star in the first place? Let’s be honest, that’s what he’s famous for. He didn’t serve his country in the military, cured a disease (although a medical center is also named after him since he was a victim of one), or ever held public office. With all due respect, he was simply a beloved film star. How does that rate an airport? I don’t figure it.
  The other thing is this: political correctness is not the only culprit. Unknown cultural history is also to blame. Even though the interview dates back to 1971, it had only recently been rediscovered. Kind of like the way folks were surprised by Clint Eastwood’s outrageous performance at the GOP convention talking demeaningly to an empty chair as if it were President Obama. Some folks were shocked, not only by the stupidity of the attempt, but discovering how right-wing Eastwood’s personal politics are. Did they not get the point of Dirty Harry?
  I find it extremely ironic. The info has always been out there, and in the digital age, one thinks it would be even more prevalent, but such is not the case. Because of this revelation (that has always existed) John Wayne Airport may become a memory.
   What does any of this have to do with Lee Marvin? Well, as readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know, Marvin’s personal politics were diametrically opposed to that of John Wayne, but it didn’t keep them from working together…THREE TIMES! In fact, I encountered some static from Marvin fans when the book came out. Some said they were deeply disappointed by the man’s personal beliefs, as also stated in a Playboy interview. Bottom line, let the work of the individual speak for itself and the hell with political correctness. If it matters to you all, find out for yourself and do the homework. Don’t let others think for you. John Wayne fans take heart, though. There’s still Duke University.
– Dwayne Epstein

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