Sharon Osbourne backs campaign for John Wayne's statue to be removed

‘We cannot celebrate these people!’ Sharon Osbourne backs campaign for John Wayne’s name and statue to be removed from Orange County airport over racist comments

  • Calls for the John Wayne Airport to be renamed have been raised in the U.S.
  • People have argued that he should no longer be celebrated due to racist remarks
  • Orange County Airport was named after Wayne following his death in 1979
  • A nine-foot bronze statue of the star also stands outside the airport in California 
  • Sharon Osbourne is among those who have backed the campaign
  • Wayne’s family have staunchly denied that he was a racist or white supremacist 

Sharon Osbourne is among those calling for the John Wayne Airport in Orange County to rename the building and remove the statue of the actor.

The TV personality, 67, said that we cannot ‘celebrate’ people who have historically made racist comments just because we ‘once thought they were heroes’.

Wayne’s family have spoken out in his defence amid the debate to remove the statue and said that he was not a racist and did not believe in white supremacy.

Standing up: Sharon Osbourne is among those calling for the John Wayne Airport in Orange County to rename the building and remove the statue of the actor

A nine-foot bronze statue of the star stands outside Orange County Airport in California, which was renamed after the movie star died in 1979.

Joining the debate, Sharon told the Daily Star: ‘It just gives me the creeps. There has always been this reputation of him of really hating blacks, Jews, anybody that wasn’t white.

‘When the airport came, I was like: ‘Why would you give this man this honour of having an airport named after somebody like that, who is just a bad man, a really ugly man?’ We cannot celebrate these people that we once thought were heroes.’

Opinion: The TV personality, 67, said that we cannot ‘celebrate’ people who have historically made racist comments just because we ‘once thought they were heroes’ (pictured the statue)

Wayne once said he didn’t feel guilty about slavery, claimed Native Americans were ‘selfishly trying to keep’ land for themselves and used homophobic slurs. 

Democrats in Orange County now wish to drop the film legend’s name, statue and other likenesses from the Santa Ana airport because of the comments. 

Wayne’s son Ethan has argued against the removal of his father’s legacy, and said: ‘Let me make one thing clear, John Wayne was not a racist. I know that term is casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously.’

He added that his father ‘did not support white supremacy in any way’.

It comes during a nationwide push across American to change location names and take down statues in light of U.S. racial history. 

Pictured: A nine-foot bronze statue of the star stands outside Orange County Airport in California, which was renamed after the movie star died in 1979

The Los Angeles Times reported that officials passed an emergency resolution Friday condemning Wayne’s ‘racist and bigoted statements’. 

Ada Briceño, chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, said: ‘There have been past efforts to get this done and now we’re putting our name and our backing into this to make sure there is a name change.’

According to those who crafted the resolution, the effort to oust Wayne is part of ‘a national movement to remove white supremacist symbols and names reshaping American institutions, monuments, businesses, nonprofits, sports leagues and teams’.

They added that its is ‘widely recognized that racist symbols produce lasting physical and psychological stress and trauma particularly to black communities, people of color and other oppressed groups..

‘And the removal of racist symbols provides a necessary process for communities to remember historic acts of violence and recognize victims of oppression’.

Comments: Wayne once said he didn’t feel guilty about slavery, claimed Native Americans were ‘selfishly trying to keep’ land for themselves and used homophobic slurs

It adds that the county is a more diverse region than it was when Wayne’s name was given to the airport.  

The resolution asked the Orange County Board of Supervisors to drop his name, statue and other likenesses from the international airport and ‘to restore its original name: Orange County Airport’. 

A statement issued to MailOnline by OC Board of Supervisors Chair Michelle Steel, reads: ‘John Wayne led the movement to make Orange County home to Vietnamese refugees, he was an ardent supporter of our men and women in uniform, and his family foundation has been a national leader in cancer research.

Joining the debate, Sharon said: ‘It just gives me the creeps. There has always been this reputation of him of really hating blacks, Jews, anybody that wasn’t white’

‘As an immigrant to our country, I am extremely sensitive to the actions and statements of people who perpetuate and make racist statements. The comments by John Wayne from 50 years ago are wrong and sad from someone who so many people across America hold in high regard.

‘While I have experienced racism first-hand, I do believe that a person should be judged on the totality of their actions and contributions to society which is why I support keeping the name John Wayne Airport.

‘John Wayne’s contributions to families in Southern California and across America live on to this day. He personally worked to assist Vietnamese refugees resettle in America, many of whom still live here in Orange County.

‘The John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s investments in research have resulted in groundbreaking treatments and the establishment of a cancer institute in Santa Monica. Because of his dedication to our military and country, Mr. Wayne received both the Naval Heritage Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.’

Honour: The airport had been named after The Duke following his 1979 death, aged 72

The airport had been named after The Duke following his 1979 death, aged 72. 

The resolution cited a 1971 Playboy magazine interview in which Wayne makes bigoted statements against black people, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community.

He said: ‘I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.’

Wayne also said that although he didn’t condone slavery, ‘I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves’.

Historic: The resolution cited a 1971 Playboy magazine interview in which Wayne makes bigoted statements against black people, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community

The actor added he felt no remorse in the subjugation of Native Americans.

He said: ‘I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. … (O)ur 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. 

Wayne also called movies such as ‘Easy Rider’ and ‘Midnight Cowboy’ perverted, and used a gay slur to refer to the two main characters of the latter film. He was 63 when he made the remarks.  

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner told the Times that he had just heard about the Democratic resolution and was unaware of its wording or merit.

This is not the first time that there has been a push to rename the airport. 

It was also targeted in early 2019 when Wayne’s words in the Playboy article were widely reshared online. Those opposed to the renaming claim Wayne can’t be judged on his comments because he lived in a different era.   

Donald Trump has claimed Democrats are being ‘stupid’ in pushing for Wayne’s name and statue to be removed from an airport in Orange County, California.

He said: ‘The Do Nothing Democrats want to take off the name John Wayne from an airport. Incredible stupidity!’

Denial: Wayne’s son Ethan has argued against the removal of his father’s legacy, and said: ‘Let me make one thing clear, John Wayne was not a racist. I know that term is casually tossed around these days, but I take it very seriously’ (Wayne and Ethan pictured in 1969)

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