Shall We Re-Name John Wayne Airport 50 Years After Actor's Controversial Interview?

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source: Pixabay

After a 1971 Playboy interview with the screen legend, John Wayne went viral a steamy discussion is now underway whether a Southern California airport in Santa Ana should bear his name.

Wayne, also widely known as "The Duke" passed away at the age of 72 in 1979. When he was 63, he talked with Playboy

 He also made some controversial observations about the Native Americans, pointing out they were ''selfishly'' trying to keep their land. In addition to that, the filmmaker called gay love stories in the 1969’s “Easy Rider” and “Midnight Cowboy,”  ''perverted.''

The 50-year-old Playboy interview sparked debates in social media and press. According to many, his views were racist and homophobic. As Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik

However, Hiltzik admitted that back in the late 70s, the area was somewhat conservative which may have influenced the decision to name the airport after Wayne. Times have changed though, continued Hiltizik, highlighting that the majority of the local population share liberal views now.

In 1971, when Wayne gave the interview, reminded Hiltzik, the civil rights revolution was already ongoing. Moreover, Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated three years before. Therefore, in Hiltzik's view, the actor was reacting to the advances gained by African Americans through street demonstrations and legislation.

The Duke's defenders seriously doubted whether we should judge the views of a late person who was not able to defend himself. 

In her op-ed

Furthermore, Fry also noted that changing the airport's name would confirm what the majority of the Americans tend to believe: that they cannot express their opinion freely without being punished by the mob.

The airport is located in Orange Country, where The Duke spent most of his adulthood. Sources familiar with the matter reminded that the name of the airport does not sparke discussions for the first time. In the past, there were hesitations whether the actor's name conveys the airstrip's location in Santa Ana.

What do you think? Do you agree that the airport's name should be changed?