CALIFORNIA – John Wayne is not worthy of a holiday in California. That’s what the California state legislature has decided. That’s right, one member of the state legislature put forward a holiday – John Wayne Day – that would be celebrated in the state. And it was voted down. Why? Because John Wayne was a racist.
No if you look at the statements that John Wayne has made, they were pretty clearly racist. In terms of politics, he was not a great guy. But we don’t remember him today because of his political views. And the legislator that was trying to celebrate him was not doing so because of his politics. They were trying to do so because he is an American cultural icon. He is what we think of when we think of a cowboy or a western star. Maybe he wasn’t perfect, but he represents something important in the culture of the United States, and should not be ignored.
Look, George Washington was a racist. Thomas Jefferson was definitely a racist. Abraham Lincoln was a racist. But we don’t purge of them from our history because of it. We don’t end Presidents Day because of it. Let’s not throw away everything good about our culture because it has flaws. Let’s see the flaws for what they are and let’s see the good things for what they are.