The Duke, The Flag and The Cross – Left’s War on America’s Symbols

Instead of watching the Michael Cohen sideshow, I focused on something really important this week: the heart of the ongoing Culture War — the attacks on America’s symbols.

John Wayne (who died nearly 40 years ago), is the latest target of the PC lynch mob. The star of many Westerns, the Duke knew a thing or two about mobs.

Wayne is under fire for comments he made in an interview published in 1972. The Duke said some things about the portrayal of homosexuality in “Midnight Cowboy” and “Easy Rider” that are being called homophobic. (“Smile when you say that, pilgrim.”) Both were lousy movies, by the way.

Now there are calls to remove his name and statue from the Orange County  Airport. This isn’t about Wayne the man but Wayne the symbol.

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The iconic actor symbolized everything the left loathes – anti-communism, Americanism, optimism, faith and a refusal to admit defeat. John Wayne didn’t die defending the Alamo, or win the West in movies like “Fort Apache” and “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” or liberate the Philippines in “Back to Bataan.”

But sometimes the Duke got a script that gave him something important to say, like Davy Crockett in “The Alamo,” expounding on “republic.”

“I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words give you a feeling. Republic is one of those words that makes me tight in the throat – the same tightness a man gets when his baby takes his first step or his first baby shaves and makes his first sound as a man. Some words can give you a feeling that makes your heart warm. Republic is one of those words.”

Last week, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers called the American flag a “rag” and said that asking African Americans to respect it (how big is that chip on your shoulder, senator?”) was like asking Jews to “sanctify and worship the swastika.”

Chambers packed a lot of hate and ignorance into a few words. Millions of Union soldiers who rallied to the colors bled and died to end the institution of slavery. An army that flew Stars and Stripes defeated the swastika and liberated the death camps.

If Chambers feels that way about his country’s flag, perhaps he should repair himself to Cuba, China or North Korea – where banners with far different associations are flown.  Far from liberating anyone, communism enslaves.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Bladensburg cross case. The 40-ft. tall Maryland memorial to those who died to keep Germany from overrunning Europe in World War I violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, according to the American Humanist Association.

Erected in 1925, the monument has been there for almost a century, and we still don’t have a theocracy. Amazing.

The cross isn’t my symbol. But it was the symbol of most of the Doughboys who served their nation in 1917-1918.

Almost as many Americans died in combat “over there” in two years, as in 17 years in Vietnam. If they’d known then that public display of the cross would be controversial today, they might have sailed home and let the Kaiser turn Europe into a Prussian province.

Today’s most important war is fought not on the battlefield or around a conference table, but in courtrooms and the court of public opinion. Ballots, not bullets, baby.

Americans of all religions, races and tastes in movies should fight every inch of the way to keep the left from occupying the high ground in the Culture War.


The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website,

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