Post by Will Dockery Post by George J. Dance Post by Will Dockery
Okay, you have a point, Pendragon.
He might, if it turns out that Wayne actually meant something different than the quoted words would indicate.
Playboy: Angela Davis [a Communist professor in the San Francisco Bay Area] claims that those who would revoke her teaching credentials on ideological grounds are actually discriminating against her because she’s black. Do you think that’s true?
Wayne: 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. 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 elaborated on his views about ethnicity and racism, saying that he believed that black people had the right to attend college as long as they passed the requisite tests, and that he did not believe that the black community was disadvantaged.
PLAYBOY: But isn’t it true that we’re never likely to rectify the inequities in our educational system until some sort of remedial education is given to disadvantaged minority groups?
WAYNE: What good would it do to register anybody in a class of higher algebra or calculus if they haven’t learned to count? There has to be a standard. I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves. 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. I will say this, though: I think any black who can compete with a white today can get a better break than a white man. I wish they’d tell me where in the world they have it better than right here in America.
PLAYBOY: Many militant blacks would argue that they have it better almost anywhere else. Even in Hollywood, they feel that the color barrier is still up for many kinds of jobs. Do you limit the number of blacks you use in your pictures?
WAYNE: Oh, Christ no. I’ve directed two pictures and I gave the blacks their proper position. I had a black slave in The Alamo, and I had a correct number of blacks in The Green Berets. If it’s supposed to be a black character, naturally I use a black actor. But I don’t go so far as hunting for positions for them. I think the Hollywood studios are carrying their tokenism a little too far. There’s no doubt that 10 percent of the population is black, or colored, or whatever they want to call themselves; they certainly aren’t Caucasian. Anyway, I suppose there should be the same percentage of the colored race in films as in society. But it can’t always be that way. There isn’t necessarily going to be 10 percent of the grips or sound men who are black, because more than likely, 10 percent haven’t trained themselves for that type of work.
It sounds much less racist in context, doesn't it.
Wayne is discussing a specific black college professor (a Communist) who was claiming racial discrimination. He doesn't feel that Angela Davis is responsible enough to be a in a teaching position, and he doesn't think that we should give her a pass on the grounds that she's black.
The only part of his statement that sounds racist today is the final line where he generalizes about education and responsibility.
Note the follow-up question by PLAYBOY: "But isn’t it true that we’re never likely to rectify the inequities in our educational system until some sort of remedial education is given to disadvantaged minority groups?"
It seems that the general consensus at the time was that minority groups were not receiving adequate educations. If so, Wayne's statement is merely pragmatic. In politically correct speak, he's saying that "Until the disadvantages in the American education system have been rectified and minorities receive an equal degree of education, they would lack the requisite skills for positions of authority."
I sincerely doubt that John Wayne would have had any objections to Barack Obama's Presidency; as President Obama is well-educated and made responsible decisions during his stay at the White House.
On a negative note, Wayne's statement does, however, tend too reinforce the unfair educational system in that it allows for the perpetuation of an unfair educational system -- but only if one adopts a "them" vs "us" mentality: i.e., blacks cannot hold office until they receive educations commensurate to those of caucasians... but since only a black politician would institute such reforms, blacks will never receive such educations.
In Wayne's defense, he believed that nowhere "in the world [did blacks] have [a better chance of receiving an equal education] than right here in America." That is, Wayne believed that white politicians were instituting such reforms and that political and social equality would come about.
Again, we need to consider this within the socio-political context of its time: Wayne's view is fairly liberal considering that in 1971 the Equal Rights Amendment had not yet been passed.