A highly controversial 1971 interview with Hollywood legend John Wayne has angered people around the world with snippets of the chat revealing he believed in white supremacy and was unsympathetic towards the plight of Native Americans.
The lengthy interview, which was originally published in Playboy magazine, has since gone viral on Twitter with many fans of the The Big Trail star captivated by the shocking exclamations from the famed cowboy actor.
During the longwinded chat, Wayne discussed everything from his views on race to the arrival of Westerners in the United States and their impact on the country. It all began when the interviewer questioned the actor on his thoughts on black civil rights activist Angele Davis, who at the time had suggested racial discrimination was the reason behind her sacking from the University of California.
When asked his thoughts on the topic he abruptly claimed: “With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks.”
He then added: “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to the point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgement to irresponsible people.”
From there the conversation turned towards his work on films in which he often played a cowboy. The interviewer asked him about the portrayal of Native Americans in the popular movies and whether he felt any empathy towards them.
Wayne claimed what happened in the past was not his or anyone else’s problem to deal with and that Westerners did Native Americans a favour by taking over their land.
“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking,” he 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.”
He added that there would have been inequalities at the time the British moved in on America, but that shouldn’t be blamed on those living in the modern era.
The interview has received quite a lot of attention from people across the world, especially those who remember watching his films growing up.
For most it wasn’t much of a surprise to learn of Wayne’s beliefs, with many claiming his opinions wouldn’t have differed much from anybody else’s at the time.
“The Playboy interview was bad, but also extremely unsurprising. Were people under some illusion that John Wayne was not extremely conservative? In 1971?” one person questioned.
Another added: “John Wayne died in 1979. The fact that some people are outraged now over what he said in a 1971 Playboy interview is just peak outrage culture. It’s not only ridiculous but it cheapen truly egregious events worthy of real outrage and attention. It’s like crying wolf every time”.
John Wayne died in 1979. The fact that some people are outraged now over what he said in a 1971 Playboy interview is just peak outrage culture. It’s not only ridiculous but it cheapens truly egregious events worthy of real outrage and attention. It’s like crying wolf every time.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) February 19, 2019
Others claimed while what Wayne said was “insulting”, it was sadly a common-held belief by many at the time.
“Whether right or wrong, that is how most white men spoke at the time. I was insulted when he said ‘blacks are more responsible now’ etc, etc. That’s why our generation fought back and educated folks! BUT he was the norm for his era. We tried to change things, someone wrote on Twitter,” one person said.
“What was said and done 40+ years ago is history people should get over it. Learn from it. The only thing we can change is the future. We can dwell on the past and get nowhere. Or we can build a better future. People have choice,” a second said.