Richard Nixon's scorn for Jews, blacks, Irish and Italians revealed in new tapes
Published 13/12/2010 | 09:58
President Richard Nixon expressed his distaste for Jews, blacks and Irish- and Italian-Americans in dismissive remarks to top aides, according to a trove of newly-released tapes and papers.
In an exchange in Feb 1973, Mr Nixon told a senior adviser that he was not prejudiced, but "I've just recognised that, you know, all people have certain traits," according to a New York Times coverage of the recordings.
"The Jews have certain traits," he said. "The Irish have certain – for example, the Irish can't drink. What you always have to remember with the Irish is they get mean. Virtually every Irish I've known gets mean when he drinks. Particularly the real Irish.
He then turned to Italian-Americans.
"The Italians, of course, those people course don't have their heads screwed on tight," he said. "They are wonderful people, but ..."
As his voice trailed off, he turned to Jews: "The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality."
Another time, he named several top Jewish advisers – including Henry Kissinger, his legendary national security adviser – and argued that they felt a need to compensate for an inferiority complex.
"What it is, is it's the insecurity," he said. "It's the latent insecurity. Most Jewish people are insecure. And that's why they have to prove things."
The remarks were recorded by the secret taping system that was installed in the White House at Mr Nixon's orders and provided key evidence in his downfall over the Watergate scandal a year later.
As the WikiLeaks "cablegate" affair throws the spotlight the inner workings of recent US diplomacy, the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum has released 265 hours of tape as well as the notes and documents.
The paperwork reveals that Mr Nixon's concerns about Jews spread to Mr Kissinger, as he ordered all Jewish-Americans be excluded from work on the Middle East.
"Get K. out of the play," he said, according to notes taken by chief of staff HR Haldeman in 1971. "No Jew can handle the Israeli thing."
In a separate recording, he and Mr Kissinger made bluntly clear that they had no interest in helping Jews escape persecution in the Soviet Union or immigrate to America.
"The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy," Mr Kissinger said. "And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern."
"I know," Nixon responded. "We can't blow up the world because of it."
The New York Times also reported that the president strongly hinted that his reluctance to consider amnesty for young Americans who went to Canada to avoid being drafted during the Vietnam War was because he believed so many of them were Jewish.
"I didn't notice many Jewish names coming back from Vietnam on any of those lists; I don't know how the hell they avoid it," he said, adding: "If you look at the Canadian-Swedish contingent, they were very disproportionately Jewish. The deserters."
And in a separate conversation with Rose Mary Woods, his personal secretary, he said that a colleague has "sort of a blind spot on the black thing because he's been in New York ... He says well, 'They are coming along, and that after all they are going to strengthen our country in the end because they are strong physically and some of them are smart.' So forth and so on."
The president continued: "My own view is I think he's right if you're talking in terms of 500 years," he said.
"I think it's wrong if you're talking in terms of 50 years. What has to happen is they have be, frankly, inbred. And, you just, that's the only thing that's going to do it, Rose."