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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘John Wayne Was a Nazi’ By Fucked Up & The Halluci Nation

Originally published at Ongoing History of Protest Music

John Wayne slaughtered our Indian brothers
Burned their villages and raped their mothers
Now he has given them a white man’s lord
‘Live by this, or die by my sword!’

These are lyrics from “John Wayne Was A Nazi” a scathing tune by hardcore pioneers MDC. The single was originally released a year after Wayne’s death in 1980 when they were known as The Stains. After changing their name, it appeared on their 1982 debut album “Millions Of Dead Cops.”

The song challenged the celebrated actor for his bigotry and role in helping to prop up an oppressive colonial system. It referred to his movies that often portrayed Wayne as a heroic cowboy fighting against the villainous Native Americans.

Wayne’s film portrayals weren’t far off from his real-world views. For example, in a 1972 Playboy interview, Wayne said: “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking. 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.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Wayne also stated “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.”

It is no wonder that the song declares, “When I see John, I’m ashamed to be white.”

Recently, Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up and Indigenous EDM act Halluci Nation reworked the tune.

Halluci Nation’s Ehren “Bear Witness” Thomas declared, “The song has been with me since high school. The song and MDC have stuck with me over the years. It’s got rage to it and that message, but I love that there’s a dark humor to it as well. It really fits in with the way we make music and visuals, with the message that we try to put forward about confronting one-dimensional misrepresentations of indigenous people in the media. John Wayne becomes a stand-in for the entire colonial project.”

“For me, it’s like this: you watch The Searchers in school, and John Wayne is presented very much as an iconic North American type of figure,” added Fucked Up vocalist Damian Abraham. “As a young punk kid hearing this song for the first time, it did change the way I looked at him — it subverted it to where all of a sudden the hero is the villain, and you can see what’s going on in pop culture.”

“As a young punk kid, this song was one of the first that showed the cracks in that veneer.”

Exposing those cracks is an important step in tearing down oppressive colonial systems and rebuilding an equitable society.

Listen to “John Wayne Was A Nazi” By Fucked Up & The Halluci Nation:

CJ Baker

CJ Baker

CJ Baker is a lifelong music fan and published writer. He recently started a website chronicling the historical developments of protest music: ongoinghistoryofprotestsongs.com, and can be found on Twitter @tunesofprotest