In Nixon tapes, call with Ronald Reagan reveals he called Africans 'monkeys' drawing huge laughs
President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are doing everything they can to discredit allegations that their comments and rhetoric are based in racism.
Trump has spent the last week attacking Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) over poverty in the city of Baltimore, which Trump has called "disgusting" and a "rat and infested mess," and Republicans have not denounced it. In fact, they are agreeing with him.
At the same time, Trump says that race has nothing to do with it, and that he is the "least racist person on the planet."
Republicans also disagree with the notion that they belong to a racist party. That's fine. We understand that most people aren't racist and it's only natural for them to side with their party against an opposing party making accusations.
Now - to add some context to this racism discussion that's overtaking politics today - it was just reported by the New York Times that when Ronald Reagan was governor of California in 1971, he phoned the White House to vent some political frustrations himself. In a newly released audio recording, Reagan called African people 'monkeys' and in turn, the president laughed about it.
The Republican Party today idolizes Ronald Reagan. This is context people. It's hard for them to get away from things like this.
Here is the full quote that Reagan made on the tape:
“To see those monkeys from those African countries, damn them,” Reagan said, to laughter from Nixon. “They are still uncomfortable wearing shoes.”
Later in the conversation, Nixon went on to describe African delegates at a United Nations vote as "cannibals."
From the Times:
“Reagan opens the door and Nixon runs with the racist tropes,” said Timothy Naftali, the former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum who requested the recording and wrote the article in The Atlantic.
“This is not just a story about Reagan’s racism,” he said in an interview. “It’s also a reminder about how in the Oval Office, racism can beget racism” and “reveal latent racism in others.”
It turns out, the National Archives withheld the recording all this time in order to not shame Reagan. But, they're releasing it now to provide some historical context given the political debate today.
So, yes, even the National Archives is cognizant of the fact that this is the reality of the Republican Party and people need to know about it.
Republicans may not think their comments are rooted in racism but they also can't deny that they're swimming in the same pond.