Newly-Released Audio Between Reagan and Nixon Reveals Reagan Referred to Africans as ‘Monkeys’ After African Nations Didn’t Side with U.S. in Oct. 1971 U.N. Vote; Nixon Later Called Africans ‘Cannibals’

  • In recently released audio, then-governor of California Ronald Reagan talked to President Richard Nixon on the phone in October 1971 where he referred to Africans as “monkeys,” which elicited a large laugh from Nixon.
  • The conversation came the day following the U.N. voting to recognize the People’s Republic of China. Regan was “an ardent defender of Taiwan” and was angry at African nations who sided against the U.S. in recognizing the People’s Republic.
  • Reagan started by telling Nixon, “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” and Nixon replied, “Yeah.”
  • Reagan followed with: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” causing Nixon to laugh.
  • The call was discovered by former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, Tim Naftali, which was published on Wednesday in “The Atlantic” magazine.
  • Naftali “said the portion of the tape containing Reagan’s remarks was initially withheld to protect his privacy but the complete version was released by the National Archives two weeks ago.”
  • According to Naftali, “when the UN took its vote to seat a delegation from Beijing instead of from Taiwan in 1971, members of the Tanzanian delegation started dancing in the General Assembly.”
  • Reagan was angry and initially tried to contact Nixon the night of the vote, but Nixon was sleep, so they talked on the phone the following morning.
  • Naftali said that “Reagan despised the United Nations, which he described as a kangaroo court filled with bums, and he wanted the U.S. to withdraw from full participation immediately.”
  • Naftali pointed out that Reagan shouldn’t have been angry at Africans for the vote since “his own State Department blamed factors other than African voting, including maneuvering by the British and French behind the scenes, for the loss.”
  • After the call, Nixon spoke to Secretary of State William Rogers where 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.”

Reference Links

  • YAHOO!: Reagan made racist remarks in taped conversation with Nixon READ
  • The Atlantic: Ronald Reagan’s Long-Hidden Racist Conversation With Richard Nixon READ
  • AOL: Ronald Reagan makes racist joke to Richard Nixon in newly released audio READ
  • BBC: Ronald Reagan called Africans at UN ‘monkeys’, tapes reveal READ

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