President Nixon Didn’t Consider Himself ‘Prejudiced,’ He Just Found Jews ‘Insecure’


Fresh off their WikiLeaks cable dump, the Times unleashed the text of new recordings from Nixon's presidency, released this week by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. While previously released recordings have detailed Nixon’s well-known animosity toward Jews and black people, these tapes "suggest an added layer of complexity to Nixon’s feeling," according to the Times. For example, "He and his aides seem to make a distinction between Israeli Jews, whom Nixon admired, and American Jews." And those Italians! He has real mixed feelings on them. But he doesn't call it prejudice:

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."

"For example, the Irish can’t drink. Virtually every Irish I’ve known gets mean when he drinks. Particularly the real Irish. The Italians, of course, those people course don’t have their heads screwed on tight. They are wonderful people, but," and his voice trailed off.

A moment later, Nixon returned to Jews: "The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality. What it is, it’s the latent insecurity. Most Jewish people are insecure. And that’s why they have to prove things."

And, finally, on black people:

"Bill Rogers has got — to his credit it's a decent feeling — but somewhat sort of a blind spot on the black thing because he's been in New York," Nixon said. "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.

"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."

The 37th president of the United States, everybody.

In Tapes, Nixon Rails About Jews and Blacks [NYT]