Richard Nixon made negative comments about Jews, blacks and other ethnic groups during informal discussions with top aides and his personal secretary that were recorded before he resigned as president, according to a newly released batch of tapes.
"I've just recognized that, you know, all people have certain traits," said Nixon during a Feb. 13, 1973, conversation with Charles Colson that was included among 265 hours of tapes released on Thursday by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.
"The Jews have certain traits. The Irish have certain — for example, the Irish can't drink. What you always have to remember with the Irish is they get mean. Virtually every Irish I've known gets mean when he drinks. It's sort of a natural trait. Particularly the real Irish," Nixon said.
"The Italians, of course, just don't have their heads screwed on tight. They are wonderful people, but..." he trailed off, adding later: "The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality."
During another conversation with his personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, Nixon expresses doubt about the opinion of William Rogers, his secretary of state, about black Africans.
"Bill Rogers has got somewhat — and to his credit it's a decent feeling — but somewhat, sort of, a sort of 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," Nixon said. "I think it's wrong if you're talking in terms of 50 years. What has to happen is they have to be, frankly, inbred. And, you just, that's the only thing that's going to do it, Rose."
During another conversation with his secretary, Nixon argued that Jewish people tend to be insecure.
"Basically, Rose, most of our Jewish friends... they are all basically people who have a sense of inferiority and have got to compensate," Nixon said.
When Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir was in Washington, Nixon gave instructions to Woods about who should be invited, or not invited, to what he called "the Jewish dinner."
"I don't want any Jew at that dinner who didn't support us in that campaign," he said. "Is that clear? No Jew who did not support us."
The tapes, made in February and March of 1973, were released along with 2,500 pages of formerly classified national security materials, 140,000 pages of domestic records, and 45 video oral histories done by the library between 2007 and 2009. They are the latest in a series of tapes released by the library that Nixon recorded during his presidency.