Former US president Ronald Reagan referred to people from African nations as “monkeys” who were “uncomfortable wearing shoes”, newly unearthed tapes have revealed.
Speaking with President Richard Nixon in 1971, the-then California governor expressed his anger that African delegates at the UN had sided against the US in a vote over recognition of the People’s Republic of China.
Mr Reagan said to Mr Nixon: “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did.
“To see those, those monkeys from those African countries – damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!”
Mr Nixon can be heard laughing on the phone at the governor’s comments.
The racist extracts from the call were initially redacted when audio clips were released into the archives to protect Mr Reagan’s privacy.
But they have now been unearthed by Tim Naftali, a professor at New York University who directed the Nixon Presidential Library from 2007 until 2011.
As Professor Naftali reports, President Nixon told his advisers to cancel all meetings with leaders of African nations who had voted against the US.
Despite being told in a memo that changes to voting predictions which would have meant China was not recognised were the fault of the UK, France and others, Mr Nixon had been determined to lay the blame on Africa.
The memo from the time indicates how misplaced his anger was, stating: “The Soviets sat this one out. Albania did not not display any great leadership.
“The result was the pressures and the lobbying of the radical Arabs, Pakistan, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Zambia, the Scandinavians as a bloc, and, despite assurances to the contrary, probable behind the scenes work by the UK and France.”
Further phone calls from the archives show that Mr Nixon used Mr Reagan’s language as permission to adapt his own to be more overtly racist.
In a call to then Secretary of State William Rogers, Mr Nixon said: “As you can imagine 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.”
He called Mr Rogers again within two hours and repeated the story. Neither Mr Rogers or Mr Nixon had seen the pictures which Mr Reagan had referred to, but agreed they were “terrible scenes”.
Mr Nixon continued: “He practically got sick at his stomach, and that’s why he called. And he said, ‘It was a terrible scene.’ And that sort of thing will have an emotional effect on people … as [Reagan] said, ‘This bunch of people who don’t even wear shoes yet, to be kicking the United States in the teeth’ … It was a terrible thing, they thought.”
Prof Naftali notes that Mr Nixon did not think of himself as racist, and was keen to “keep quoting Reagan’s racism, rather than own the sentiment himself”.
The professor’s analysis reveals more incidents and examples of racism from Mr Nixon, who believed in theories that suggested IQ was related to race.
Mr Nixon once told a friend: “Within groups, there are geniuses. There are geniuses within black groups. There are more within Asian groups … This is knowledge that is better not to know.”
Mr Nixon also suggested that “blacks… have a hell of a time” governing, and alleged that “black countries” in the UN did not have a “president or a prime minister who is there as a result of a contested election such as we were insisting upon in Vietnam”.
He claimed to be interested in research on African Americans because “I must know that they have basic weaknesses.”
Ten years after the calls were made Mr Reagan made it to the White House, defeating incumbent president Jimmy Carter.
Mr Reagan, who died in 2004, became best known for his role in the end of the Cold War, while Mr Nixon, who died in 1994, had the Watergate Scandal as his legacy.
Source: SKY NEWS