After sorting through 3,700 hours of audio tape of Richard Nixon during his presidency, the authors of a new book The Nixon Tapes have revealed the former president’s feelings toward women, gay people and Henry Kissinger.
Nixon describes himself as “the most tolerant person,” in these tapes, which can be fully heard on Vanity Fair’s website.
“Let me say something before we get off the gay thing. I don’t want my views misunderstood. I am the most tolerant person on that of anybody in this shop,” Nixon said. “They have a problem. They’re born that way. You know that. That’s all. I think they are.”
“[But] my point is that Boy Scout leaders, YMCA leaders, and others bring them in that direction, and teachers,” he continued. “And if you look over the history of societies, you will find, of course, that some of the highly intelligent people …Oscar Wilde, Aristotle, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, were all homosexuals…Once a society moves in that direction, the vitality goes out of that society.”
He also adds, “By God, I am not going to have a situation where we pass along a law indicating, ‘Well, now, kids, just go out and be gay.’ They can do it. Just leave them alone. That’s a lifestyle I don’t want to touch…”
He literally did not want to touch it. According to a clip from another audio tape, Nixon accused the TV series, All in the Family of “glorifying homosexuality,” saying “I don’t even want to shake hands with anybody from San Francisco!”
Nixon also spoke about women who curse.
“A man drunk and a man who swears – people will tolerate and say that’s a sign of masculinity or some other damn thing. We all do it. We all swear,” he said. “But you show me a girl who swears, and I’ll show you an awful unattractive person.”
Nixon also spoke about the fear of his aid, Kissinger, getting too involved in the Middle East policy because Kissinger was Jewish.
“You know, put yourself in his position,” Nixon told Haldeman. “Good God! You know, his people were crucified over there. Jesus Christ! And five million of them, popped into bake ovens! What the hell does he feel about all this?”
However, according to Kissinger, he didn’t mind.
“I’m Jewish myself, but who are we to complain about Soviet Jews?” Kissinger told Nixon. “You know, it’s none of our business how they treat their people.”
Listen to the full recordings here.