Richard M. Nixon made disparaging remarks about Jews, blacks, Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans in a series of extended conversations with top aides and his personal secretary, recorded in the Oval Office 16 months before he resigned as president.
The remarks were contained in 265 hours of recordings, captured by the secret taping system Nixon had installed in the White House and released this week by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
While previous recordings have detailed Nixon’s animosity toward Jews, including those who served in his administration like Henry A. Kissinger, his national security adviser, these tapes suggest an added layer of complexity to Nixon’s feeling. He and his aides seem to make a distinction between Israeli Jews, whom Nixon admired, and American Jews.
In a conversation Feb. 13, 1973, with Charles W. Colson, a senior adviser who had just told Nixon that he had always had “a little prejudice,” Nixon said he was not prejudiced but continued: “I’ve just recognized that, you know, all people have certain traits.”
The racial stereotypes that follow are pretty comical, especially coming from a late 20th century American president. Why—seriously why—a person of Nixon’s stature would feel the need to spout such racism is beyond me. I certainly cannot imagine a politician today, knowing how easy it is for things said privately to become public, making the same remarks. Bragging about an affair or cursing another politician, sure. But not this.
So what did Nixon say about the J-O-Os?
“The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality.”
“What it is, is it’s the insecurity. It’s the latent insecurity. Most Jewish people are insecure. And that’s why they have to prove things
But, hey, some of Nixon’s most influential advisors were Jewish.