Wokesters and BLMers regard him as Satan. My late father hated him for his rightwing politics. And Lord knows The Green Berets was a seriously ignorant pro-Vietnam War fantasy. But all things considered, John Wayne was well liked and regarded as a decent human being by those who knew him.
Wayne could be thorny in some respects, yes. And his assessments of who and what people of whatever ethnic stripe may have amounted to were obviously crude in some respects, and certainly don’t pass muster by today’s measure. But I’ve always heard he was a fundamentally humane fellow.
Recent statement by Ethan Wayne, the Duke’s 58-year-old son: “The truth is, as we have seen in papers from his archives, [my father] did not support ‘white supremacy’ in any way and believed that responsible people should gain power without the use of violence.
“Those who knew him, knew he judged everyone as an individual and believed everyone deserved an equal opportunity,” Ethan added. “He called out bigotry when he saw it. He hired and worked with people of all races, creeds, and sexual orientations. John Wayne stood for the very best for all of us — a society that doesn’t discriminate against anyone seeking the American dream.”
“[It] would be an injustice to judge him based on a single [Playboy] interview, as opposed to the full picture of who he was.”
“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.
“If John Wayne were here today, he 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.”