This Conversation Between Former Presidents Ronald Reagan And Richard Nixon Will Make Your Stomach Turn
The recording reveals Reagan calling African United Nations delegates "monkeys".
July 31, 2019 at 9:16 pm
With President Trump's recent actions putting the spectacle of presidential racism back into the headlines, recently uncovered audio of a phone call between then-President Richard Nixon and California Governor Ronald Reagan show that, despite messaging, Trump is not the first person to hold disparaging views of people in the Oval Office.
During the call, which was recorded by Nixon in October 1971 after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China, Reagan called Nixon to vent his concerns about the delegates who voted against the United States.
“Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!”
Further recordings reveal Nixon attempting to choose his words carefully when describing the concern on the call to others.
“As you can imagine…,” Nixon said to Secretary of State William Rogers in another recording. “…there’s strong feeling that we just shouldn’t, as [Reagan] said, he saw these, as he said, he saw these, these, uh, these cannibals on television last night, and he says, ‘Christ, they weren’t even wearing shoes, and here the United States is going to submit its fate to that,’ and so forth and so on.”
These recordings now exist in the Nixon Presidential Library but were edited to delete the racist portions of the conversation due to privacy concerns, according to Tim Naftali, a clinical associate professor of history at NYU who wrote about the audio for The Atlantic.
President Trump has had a long history of insulting Black political figures, which has led some to call him the most "openly racist and divisive" president in American history. While the current president's tweets should not be forgiven, history does not differentiate him from previous occupants of the White House who have seen Blacks as lesser.