Like we’ve been saying: The Republican Party has always been racist — they just used to keep a tighter lid on it.
The day after the United Nations voted to recognize the People’s Republic of China, then–California Governor Ronald Reagan phoned President Richard Nixon at the White House and vented his frustration at the delegates who had sided against the United States. “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “Yeah,” Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon gave a huge laugh.
Head to the link and you can hear St. Ron, in his own inimitably avuncular way, blurting this racist bile while Nixon guffaws in the background.
Later, Nixon called his secretary of State, William Rogers, and doubled down on the slurs:
“As you can imagine,” Nixon confided in Rogers, “there’s strong feeling that we just shouldn’t, as [Reagan] said, he saw these, as he said, he saw these—” Nixon stammered, choosing his words carefully—“these, uh, these cannibals on television last night, 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.”
The president wanted his patrician secretary of state to understand that Reagan spoke for racist Americans, and they needed to be listened to. “You know, but that’s typical of a reaction, which is probably”—“That’s right,” Rogers interjected—“quite strong.”
Kind of puts “shithole countries” and “rat-infested” into historical context — the context being that Republicans have always been and always will be racist assholes, no matter what insincere bromides they regurgitate every Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The tape is from 1971 — when Reagan was still governor of California — but as you can see, not much has changed in 48 years. Except now they tweet this kind of thing out to the world instead of laughing about it behind closed doors.