John Wayne, to this day, remains one of the biggest movie stars in American history.
Known as “The Duke,” he would grow to embody everything that was right and just about early- to mid-20th Century values.
But it’s no secret that he started to fall out of touch with youth culture in the late 1960s and on into the 1970s.
His brand of establishmentarianism didn’t sit well with young people who were becoming more and more socially aware.
Before the Civil Rights movement, John Wayne was untouchable. During and after it, however, he was starting to be looked at as an old man with old ideas.
This was demonstrated perhaps best of all in an interview that he did with Playboy magazine in 1971.
— Walalaflower (@saveelati) July 16, 2016
The Inquisitr has covered that interview before here, but just as a primer, here is a direct quote from the interview.
“We can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks,” Wayne 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.”
Of Native Americans, John Wayne said he didn’t feel that America “did wrong in taking this great country away from them… 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.
When Donald Trump was building momentum in the polls earlier in the presidential race, there was a Telegraph article that pointed out that a certain member or two of the John Wayne family were dismissive of the idea their relative would have endorsed Trump, but quotes like those above suggest that maybe he would have, given the Donald’s talk of nationalism, mandatory deportation for illegal immigrants, and “extreme vetting” of Muslims entering the country.
Those are all views that mirror the comments of John Wayne as well as the subject matter of some of his films, as Professor Alan Gilbert points out in a new piece for the Daily Beast.
While Gilbert’s focus is not squarely on “The Duke,” he does draw a parallel between the films of John Wayne and the novels that inspired one Adolf Hitler to ride roughshod over Jews during the Holocaust.
Gilbert compares the films of John Wayne — or “John Wayne as a hero, ‘Apache blood’ as a sign of ‘savagery'” as he writes — to Hitler’s fascination with similar themes that showed up in the novels of Karl May.
May, a German writer, penned novels that took place in the American Southwest and involved Aryan supremacy in much the same way that “Indians” were often seen as savages in films like The Searchers and Hondo.
— TC Boone (@tc_boone) May 6, 2016
To illustrate how John Wayne and Adolf Hitler had more in common than many Americans might care to think, Gilbert includes this comment from the Aryan leader himself, who had “just been reading a very fine article on Karl May.”
“I found it delightful. It would be nice if his work were republished. I owe him my first notions of geography, and the fact that he opened my eyes on the world. I used to read him by candle-light, or by moonlight with the help of a huge magnifying-glass… The first book of his I read was The Ride Through the Desert. I was carried away by it. And I went on to devour at once the other books by the same author. The immediate result was a falling-off in my school reports.”
But what do you think, readers? Do you think it’s fair to draw similarities between Adolf Hitler and John Wayne just because of an interview/worldview the Duke espoused? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Warner Bros.]