June 29, 2020
CONTACT: Randall Avila
PHONE: (714) 453-0900
Statement on John Wayne Airport
ORANGE COUNTY, CA - Hon. Fred M. Whitaker, Chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County, released the following statement:
"Following the latest national trend, Orange County Democrats have demanded that John Wayne Airport change its name, and that John Wayne's statue be removed. The Republican Party of Orange County calls upon all clear-eyed Democrats and all other Orange Countians to stand against the radicals who wish to erase our nation's history. We are not talking about statues to defeated Confederate Generals that should not have been erected in the first place, we are talking about monuments to the ideals that make our nation unique. Ideals that bind us as a nation and make us a more perfect union. Ideals that are embodied by the imperfect people we all are.
The Republican Party was founded in opposition to human slavery. Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, was of course the "Great Emancipator," who shepherded this nation through its time of deepest division and crisis. At the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives, Lincoln fought, perhaps more than any other American, to hold our nation to its founding creed, the proposition set forth in the Declaration of Independence. That proposition states that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Lincoln was not perfect and neither was Thomas Jefferson who wrote the original words.
The Republican Party stands against racism, as it has since its inception. It does not, however, stand against American history. Our history is a noble one, and one that has strived, decade after decade to create, in the words of our Founding Fathers, "A more perfect union." Tens of millions of immigrants across the centuries come to America because of what we are, and what we continually strive to be, a great and free nation. They flee oppression and come to a place where men and women can forge their own destiny. Ours is a nation that dared to create a self-governing Republic against the backdrop of two thousand years of monarchy. In the place of emperors, kings and queens and dukes and barons, Americans had the audacity to believe that the people themselves were sovereign, holding God-given rights. And those imperfect men formed a government to secure those rights.
A movement that seeks to destroy all symbols, monuments and lessons of a free nation's past does not create greater security and understanding, but rather its absence. We best secure our liberty by keeping our history in front of us: first, to honor those whose struggles made our present freedom possible, and second, by learning from their mistakes. There are no perfect men, but there are many to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, regardless of their imperfections.
The reality of history helps us sift the wheat of truth from the chaff of propaganda. History reminds us that we owe a debt of gratitude to our forbearers that brought us, through struggle, to where we presently stand. Some fought Nazis, others gave us our national parks, others wrote the documents that made nearly two and a half centuries of democracy possible. None were without flaws, but many deserve to be remembered. We stand upon their ideals of what a nation should be. To believe otherwise is both arrogant and foolish.
The totalitarian ideology that drives the current desire to destroy our nation's past has a dark and troubled history across the world. From the guillotine of the French revolution to the Bolshevik gulags, to Nazi concentration camps, to the Cultural Revolution in China, to the human burnings and beheadings of ISIS, history is replete with totalitarian movements that insist upon demonizing groups of people, defacing statues and erasing all symbols of the past.
A nation that seeks to destroy its past does not march towards progress, but rather, its opposite. If the standard is who is acceptable today, based upon the standards of the present, even Lincoln will fall short, for even he said things that we reject today. Should we deface or remove the statue of the Great Emancipator too? Should we destroy the monument that Dr. Martin Luther King chose to give his "I have a Dream" speech to the world? That question answers itself for most of us, but apparently not the Democrats.
In the latest episode of declaring war upon our past, and always willing to cast the first stone, the Democratic Party of Orange County wishes to add John Wayne to the list of unacceptable heretics.
John Wayne has long stood as a symbol of rugged individualism and magnanimous dedication to his community. On screen, he was a bold and brave hero who stood against tyranny and cruelty. He demonstrated the idea that actions speak louder than words. In his personal life, Wayne showed us many of the character traits that we most admire. His contributions to our nation as an actor, producer and philanthropist led him to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. His roles as an everyman of courage in the face of danger became iconic of the American spirit. In perpetual legacy, the John Wayne Cancer Foundation serves 100,000 cancer patients annually, has funded a national skin cancer awareness program and invested into cutting edge cancer research for 35 years. John Wayne’s children, who themselves have mixed ancestry, offered a clear eyed view of their father in rebuttal to an editorial on this subject two years ago. We should listen to those that knew him best and look at the whole of the man.
We can remember the good things that John Wayne did for this nation and Orange County. We can and do condemn what he said in that 1971 magazine interview. So, we can also learn from his imperfections. Just like we’ve learned from and about the flaws of many leaders like JFK, FDR, and so on. Iconography is about enshrining the larger ideals of good from their lives, not the flaws. Those goals are best served by keeping our history in front of us, not by destroying it to serve the radicalism and frenzy of the present moment. We owe that, at the very least, to the Americans who will come long after we are gone.
The Supervisors should reject these sideshow calls for removal of John Wayne’s legacy at the Airport, and instead move on with the business of leading us to a more perfect union within in our county."