“A black man should be killed if he’s messing with a white woman.” This sentiment was uttered not in 1875 but 1975 — by a man with an airport named in his honor. This brings us to the effort to strip late actor John Wayne’s name from the airport in Orange County, California.
Those advocating such point to what they consider “the sheer crudeness of the actor’s feelings about gay people, black people, Native Americans, young people and liberals,” as the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hiltzik puts it. But my opening, eyebrow-raising quotation is what’s truly shocking here. Let’s be fair: How can a man who uttered it have an airport named after him in 2019?
Because the man who uttered it was not John Wayne.
It was late boxer Muhammad Ali.
While leftist cultural revolutionaries are talking this month about renaming John Wayne Airport, just last month they renamed Louisville, Kentucky’s airport after Ali. I doubt Hiltzik considered this when inveighing against Wayne; I doubt he’d even care. But Ali not only wasn’t the “civil rights” icon some fancy him, he was actually a strict racial separatist possessed of strong prejudice — and more.
Let’s compare the two men. While you can read Hiltzik’s article for the complete “case against Wayne,” or even the 1971 Playboy interview the following is from, here’s what the Left appears to consider the most damning statement he made:
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. [Emphasis added.] I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.
... But some blacks have tried to force the issue and enter college when they haven't passed the tests and don't have the requisite background.... But if they aren't academically ready for that step, I don't think they should be allowed in.
While “white supremacy” was a poor choice of words, Wayne appeared to be opposed to the then-existing “white supremacy” as a permanent condition, while also opposing the instant elevation of blacks to positions of power based on affirmative action; he didn’t say that he opposed blacks in power in principle. But you can be the judge.
Now, however, consider the following exchange in another Playboy interview, this one with Ali in 1975:
Ali: A black man should be killed if he’s messing with a white woman. And white men have always done that. They lynched niggers for even looking at a white woman; they'd call it reckless eyeballing and bring out the rope. Raping, patting, mischief, abusing, showing our women disrespect — a man should die for that. And not just white men — black men, too. We will kill you, and the brothers who don’t kill you will get their behinds whipped and probably get killed themselves if they let it happen and don’t do nothin’ about it. Tell it to the President — he ain’t gonna do nothin’ about it. Tell it to the FBI: We’ll kill anybody who tries to mess around with our women. Ain’t nobody gonna bother them.
Playboy: And what if a Muslim woman wants to go out with non-Muslim blacks — or white men, for that matter?
Ali: Then she dies. Kill her, too.
That’s pretty definitive. And, question: Who made the more outrageous statement, Wayne or Ali?
Ali had a history of this, too. While the Louisville airport probably won’t honor him to the extent of having different facilities for whites and blacks, he did — in accordance with his Nation of Islam doctrine — consistently preach racial separation. Just consider what he said in a 1968 interview produced for PBS’ THIRTEEN (to watch the interview, click here; the relevant portion begins at 11:50).
Ali essentially reiterated these beliefs in the ’75 Playboy interview — when he was already 33 years old.
For the record, I’m no rabid Ali hater. I’ve been a fan of boxing retrospectives, and from what I’ve seen he generally treated people of all races well on a personal level (though the black competitors he called Uncle Toms might have disagreed). He also had unparalleled skills both in the ring and out of it, the latter when he sold his fights with wit and showmanship not seen in sportsmen before or since. But how does he deserve honor if Wayne doesn’t?
Ali does not. But he’s getting it because of our day’s prevailing identity politics, where you’re judged not based on what you’ve done, but who you are. Ali was black and Wayne was white — and that’s all the cultural revolutionaries need to know.
So Confederate and other statues and tradition come down as our culture is torn up and past white figures are judged, and condemned, based on the most politically incorrect thing they said or did 50, 100, or 200 years ago. Yet no complaints are made about the Islamic “prophet” Ali followed, Mohammed, who was not only a slave owner and trader, but engaged in theft, torture, beheading, and mass murder.
Interestingly, Hiltzik buttresses his case by stating that the Republican Wayne was honored decades ago by a conservative Orange County that “no longer exists.” Yet note: Everyone from the past was largely “conservative” by today’s standards — even, and especially, the “classical liberals” the Founding Fathers. So maybe, as our civilization continues drifting “left,” the name of every honored historical figure needs to be stricken from what it graces.
Of course, that’s the whole idea behind cultural revolutions — with exceptions made, today, for the right-color racists.
Graphic showing Louisville, Ky., skyline in background: Ankabala/iStock/Getty Images Plus