Damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes,’ said beloved former president
Ronald Reagan shared a racist exchange with Richard Nixon in a newly unearthed phone conversation from 1971 in which the former president describes African delegates to the United Nations as “monkeys”.
Speaking with Mr Nixon, who was then president, a day after the UN voted to admit The People’s Republic of China into the global organisation, Mr Reagan said: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!”
Mr Reagan was the Republican governor of California at the time, and was calling Mr Nixon at the White House to complain about UN members who voted against the US position.
Tim Naftali, the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library and a clinical associate professor of history at New York University, published the recordings in The Atlantic after they were previously sealed for privacy reasons.
The explosive recordings were originally released by the National Archives in 2000, though they were later withdrawn due to a court-ordered review.
The former president’s death “eliminated the privacy concerns,” Mr Naftali said.
“I requested that the conversations involving Ronald Reagan be re-reviewed,” he added. “Two weeks ago, the National Archives released complete versions.”
According to Mr Naftali, “Nixon used Reagan’s call as an excuse to adapt his language to make the same point to others. Right after hanging up with Reagan, Nixon sought out Secretary of State William Rogers.”
Mr Nixon then went on to describe the African delegates to his secretary of state as “cannibals,” adding, “Christ, they weren’t even wearing shoe
Mr Naftali said Mr Nixon “never changed his mind about the supposed inherent inferiority of Africans”.