Reagan complained to Nixon about ‘those monkeys from those African countries’

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan


Ronald Reagan once complained to Richard Nixon about “monkeys from those African countries” when referring to African delegations at the United Nations, according to newly released audio.

On Oct. 26, 1971, then-California Gov. Reagan was a staunch supporter of Taiwan and was unhappy with the previous day’s U.N. vote to recognize the People’s Republic of China.

After the controversial vote, the Tanzanian delegation danced in the General Assembly. Reagan later belittled their actions when speaking to then-President Nixon, according to The Atlantic, which brought the clips to light Tuesday.

“Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did … ” Reagan said in the call, which was taped by Nixon.

“Yeah,” Nixon said.

“To see those monkeys from those African countries,” Reagan said. “Damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!”

Nixon responded with boisterous laughter.

Earlier in the conversation, Nixon had said he was most disappointed in the votes from African nations.

The president then reached out to his secretary of state, William Rogers, saying the racist complaints were Reagan’s reason for calling rather than the U.N. plea, according to The Atlantic.

In Nixon’s version, Reagan, who would later become the 40th president of the United States, had referred to the delegations as “‘these, uh, these cannibals on television last night,’” he told Rogers. “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.”

Later that day, Nixon restated a slightly altered version for Rogers: “‘These cannibals jumping up and down and all that.’ And apparently it was a pretty grotesque picture.”

“Apparently, it was a terrible scene,” Rogers agreed. Neither man had actually watched the scene.

“That sort of thing will have an effect on people,” Nixon eventually added.



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