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John Wayne Must Die

Added: Saturday, December 22nd 2007 at 9:18am by robertflynn
Related Tags: legal, politics

John Wayne Must Die

When I was young I saw a lot of John Wayne. I watched him kill a lot of people. All of them bad, most of them Indians. He was also pretty good at killing Japanese, but not so good at killing Germans. John Wayne didn’t die. Not in the movies.

When I was in Marine boot camp they showed us John Wayne movies. In Marine boot camp you couldn’t leave the base, you couldn’t go to the PX, you couldn’t buy soft drinks, ice cream or candy. You couldn’t have cigarettes, beer, or women. Instead we had John Wayne. Usually, he wore a Marine uniform and killed a lot of Japanese.

An eighteen-year-old Marine boot is one of the dumbest things on earth. We didn’t think catsup was a vegetable; catsup was an hors d’oeuvre. As an eighteen-year-old boot I didn’t understand why we had to use the atomic bomb when we had John Wayne. He could kill as many Japanese as anyone could enjoy seeing die. And he didn’t cost much more than the research and development of the atomic bomb. Not if you threw in the research and development of the B-29.

John Wayne didn’t do much in Korea. Killing Indians paid better. And John Wayne didn’t die.

After Korea, John and I went our separate ways. I was busy going to school, getting married, starting a career. I didn’t have time for movies. I didn’t see “The Alamo.” I don’t know how he got out of that one.

John Wayne had his own problems in Vietnam. He killed a lot of Viet Cong but no one enjoyed it. At the drive-in a few people cheered but they were blowing grass and thought he was killing Indians. The Viet Cong had a Benevolent and Protective Society in Berkeley and other schools of thought. The Japanese didn’t have a Benevolent and Protective Society but they had Toyotas. And yen. So John went back to killing Indians. Nobody cared about Indians.

John also killed some bad men. They were so bad that watching them curl up and croak was almost as pleasurable as watching the Japanese fry or seeing gut-shot Indians run over by their own horses before being scalped by Christians. Bad men weren’t massacred. They died one by one, like men. There was a Benevolent and Protective Society for bad men.

John Wayne didn’t kill women. No need to. Some things were lower than Indians. John Wayne didn’t marry them either. He wasn’t afraid of bad women, although good women gave him a scare or two. Nothing scarier than a good woman when she was breathy and in heat. John Wayne put women in their place. A little higher than a coyote. A little lower than a dead horse.

John Wayne became the hero of America, replacing such impostors as Lindbergh, Clarence Darrow, Albert Einstein, Audie Murphy, William Faulkner. He became the icon of the west, replacing such impostors as Sam Houston, Chief Joseph, Teddy Roosevelt, Bill Haywood, Will Rogers.

John Wayne was spit and image of the American hero. He was tougher than a longhorn steak until real bullets flew. He was meaner than a side-winder if someone sat on his hat, beat his woman or was discourteous to a horse. But only on film.

John Wayne was charmingly inarticulate. He had only twelve words in his vocabulary other than Winchester, six-shooter, kill, shoot, main, horse, dog and pilgrim. Six of the remaining words were conjugations of “Wal.” Don Quixote may have been addled but he wasn’t incoherent. In the theater, even heroes have to speak. In novels, even stupid men have to be able to think. It took movies to give us “yep” heroes. Movies started out silent. They remained dumb; they just added sound.

John Wayne didn’t need nobody. He didn’t ask favors. He didn’t take handouts. He pulled himself up by his own six-shooters.

John Wayne had no self-doubts. His opinion was right and you were welcome to your own as long as it agreed with his. He was on the right road, headed in the right direction and if you didn’t get out of his way he’d kill you. Or maybe just maim you if you had made an honest mistake. He sometimes let women and children live. And he didn’t die.

John Wayne never broke a sweat for daily bread, toiled at a repetitive and humbling job for minimum wage, or was gainfully employed, except at killing people. His only skill was violence, but it was the skill most honored and most envied by his countrymen. And he didn’t die.

John Wayne loved freedom. The freedom to go wherever he wanted to go, do whatever he wanted to do, and kill anyone who wanted the same. He was the quickest to violence. Always. Leaving slower men dead in the street.

Wayne had values. Good horses. Good dogs. Good whiskey. Good violence. He hated bad violence and killed bad-violent men. He was more violent than anyone, but he killed only those he thought needed killing. He had a code that permitted no extenuating circumstances and no exceptions. Except himself.

John Wayne was innocent. No matter how many people he killed, or how much pleasure, profit or power he got out of it, he maintained innocence about the whole bloody business. Wal, sure, some good men died too. And some women were caught in the crossfire. And some babies. Some babies always die. But when you look up there and see old glory waving in the breeze, high up there, on top of the Savings and Loan Building, it makes you wish the taxpayers weren’t so gol darned cheap and had given you a few more bullets to waste. Someone with.

John Wayne didn’t lose. Right means might so John Wayne couldn’t lose. John Wayne wasn’t at Wake Island or Corregidor because John Wayne couldn’t lose. He left Vietnam early.

I didn’t see “The Alamo.” I don’t know how he got out of that. Travis died. Crockett and Bowie died. John Wayne didn’t die. I’ve been to the Alamo. I know that John Wayne is in there somewhere. And he’s alive.

John Wayne didn’t die. His spirit transcended him, passed into the souls of Americans everywhere. The story that St. John bodily ascended into heaven is probably not true. John Wayne passed into the spirit of Americans who died in Beirut, Grenada, Nicaragua, Libya, Panama, Iran, Iraq. John Wayne didn’t die.

John gave us the stories that tell us how to be men when women and children don’t measure up to our standards for them. When other men don’t get out of the way of our ambitions. When teachers, parents or peers try to fence in our egos. When inferiors pretend they have the same rights we have.

St. John taught us, big and powerful is good. Small and weak is bad and must be killed. Or, at least, exploited.

St. John taught us that a man should take everything he can get, and the quickest way to get it is with a gun.

St. John taught us that the fastest to the trigger is the hero.

John Wayne lives in the souls of those who believe bullets speak louder than words, who believe a gun, a quick draw and a steady aim are the only Bill of Rights you’ll ever need.

John Wayne must die.

(From “Growing Up a Sullen Baptist”)

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User Comments

Yep, the machine was really onto something with JW who (represented) desired American character, values, and goals that helped this country form, conquer, and prosper to its present greatness! Oh, and no worries, for JW is terminal and the prognosis is not good.[WINK]
Let's see, draft dodger, war-profiteer. Those are great American values as exemplified by the current commander in chief.

I haven't seen enough John Wayne to have an opinion, but he was good (and not particularly bellicose) in The Quiet Man.

I enjoyed most John Wayne movies but there is a difference between a hero and a hero on the screen. I have a hard time getting around the fact that America's most famous war hero was a draft-dodger. 

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