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Depth of Nixon’s racial prejudices exposed in audio recordings

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Saturday, December 11, 2010 16:33 EDT
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Kissinger argued for indifference toward slaughter of Soviet Jews — and Nixon agreed

President Richard Nixon was, to put it bluntly, an avowed racist, according to audio recordings released recently by his presidential library.

Nixon, talking with top aides in secret in the Oval Office, went into further details about his beliefs on Jews, blacks, Italian-Americans, and Irish-Americans.

Nixon denied in a Feb. 13, 1973, recording with his senior advisor that he was prejudiced; however, he said, “I’ve just recognized that, you know, all people have certain traits.”

The Irish, Nixon said, for example, “can’t drink” and “get mean.”

“Virtually every Irish I’ve known gets mean when he drinks. Particularly the real Irish,” he said.

Nixon’s descriptions captured in 265 hours of recordings were released last week by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

The tapes, recorded during the last months of his Watergate scandal-ridden term, also reveal Nixon’s complex views of Jews.

Previous audio selections released by the library showed Nixon’s intense dislike of Jews — even those who worked in the White House, such as Henry A. Kissinger, his national security adviser.

The latest audio shows Nixon differentiated between Israeli Jews and American Jews, the later drawing much more of Nixon’s ire.

The audio also illuminates a 1973 conversation between Kissinger and Nixon, in which they dismissed concerns of Soviets slaughtering Jews en masse.

“The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy,” 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 replied. “We can’t blow up the world because of it.”

The tapes were recorded in the Oval Office a little over a year before his resignation from the nation’s highest political office.

Timothy Naftali, the executive director of the Nixon Library, told The New York Times that the tapes would be released online at the library’s Web site by 2012.

 
 
 
 
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