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John Wayne: “I Believe In White Supremacy”

February 20, 2019

I never was a John Wayne fan.  I can think of only one movie I ever saw with him featured, and that was True Grit.  The reason I even saw that was due to Glen Campbell also acting in the movie.  I was never drawn to the male machismo type character, which even as a teenager, looked toxic to me.  Now there is even more reason to know my judgment call about Wayne was correct.  

John Wayne is never going to be confused for a progressive by anyone familiar with his life and career.

The actor was famous as one of Hollywood’s staunchest conservatives: a onetime member of the reactionary anti-Communist John Birch Society, a producer for and actor in a film about the ignominious House Un-American Activities Committee and a vocal supporter of the Vietnam War after much of the public had turned against it.

But this week snippets of an old interview he did with Playboy magazine, in which he expressed racist and homophobic sentiments and railed against socialism, began circulating on Twitter. A tweet with portions of the interview sent Sunday night from a screenwriter in Tennessee went viral — and, with that, Wayne’s politics were news again.

n the 1971 interview, Wayne railed against “perverted films,” giving the interviewer, Richard Warren Lewis, two examples when asked: “Easy Rider” and “Midnight Cowboy.”

The actor described the characters in the latter film with a homophobic slur, then went on to extol the virtues of sexual intercourse between men and women.

“I believe in white supremacy,” he said, and spoke harshly about African Americans, saying, “We can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks.”

“I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people,” he said.

Of slavery, he said that he didn’t feel any guilt about the U.S. history.

“I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves,” he said. “Now, I’m not condoning slavery. It’s just a fact of life, like the kid who gets infantile paralysis and has to wear braces so he can’t play football with the rest of us.”

And he spoke harshly about Native Americans when asked whether he felt any empathy for them, given the centrality many of them played in the Westerns he had worked on.

“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking,” Wayne said. “Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”

Wow.  What a complete irresponsible jerk. 

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