Declassified: Former US Prez Nixon called Indians ‘pathetic, most sexless’

The full content of these tapes reveal how the US policy toward South Asia under Nixon was influenced by his hatred of, and sexual repulsion towards, Indians

Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon, a Republican, was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 until 1974 | Photo: Wikipedia

Disgraced and unseated by the Watergate scandal, former US president Richard Nixon had made disparaging remarks about Indians, newly declassified White House tapes have revealed.

Nixon also calls Indians “most sexless”, “nothing” and “pathetic”, according to the tapes.

“As Americans grapple with problems of racism and power, a newly declassified trove of White House tapes provides startling evidence of the bigotry voiced by President Richard M. Nixon and Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser,” Gary Bass, professor at Princeton, wrote in an opinion piece ‘The Terrible Cost of Presidential Racism’ in The New York Times.

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Richard Nixon, a Republican, was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 until 1974.

Nixon said in a conversation that Indian women are “undoubtedly the most unattractive women in the world.”

“The full content of these tapes reveal how the US policy toward South Asia under Nixon was influenced by his hatred of, and sexual repulsion toward, Indians,” Bass says. He is the author of ‘The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide.’

Richard Nixon, a Republican, was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 until 1974.

“On Nov. 4, 1971, during a private break from a contentious White House summit with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India — a rare woman leader at the time — the President harangued (Henry) Kissinger about his sexual disgust at Indians,” Bass said.

“To me, they turn me off. How the hell do they turn other people on, Henry? Tell me,” Nixon tells Kissinger referring to Indians. Kissinger’s response is inaudible in the tapes.

In November 1971, in the middle of a discussion about India-Pakistan tensions with Kissinger and Secretary of State William Rogers, after Rogers mentioned reprimanding Gandhi, the president blurted, “I don’t know how they reproduce!”

Bass writes in the NYT piece that while Kissinger has portrayed himself as being above the racism of the Nixon White House, the tapes show “him joining in the bigotry.

On June 3, 1971, Kissinger was “indignant” at the Indians as the country sheltered millions of Bengali refugees who had fled the Pakistan Army. Kissinger blamed the Indians for causing the refugee flow and then condemned Indians as a whole, as he said, “They are a scavenging people.”

At one point, Kissinger had said Indians are “superb flatterers”. “They are masters at subtle flattery. That’s how they survived 600 years. They suck up — their great skill is to suck up to people in key positions.”

Nixon had even been furious with his ambassador to India Kenneth Keating, who two days earlier had confronted Nixon and Kissinger in the Oval Office, calling Pakistan’s crackdown “almost entirely a matter of genocide.”

Bass says that Nixon and Kissinger had “staunchly supported” the military regime in Pakistan as it killed hundreds of thousands of Bengalis, with 10 million refugees fleeing into India.

Voicing prejudices about Pakistanis, Kissinger had in August 1971 told Nixon that “the Pakistanis are fine people, but they are primitive in their mental structure.”

He also said: “They (the Pakistanis) just don’t have the subtlety of the Indians.”

“For decades, Nixon and Kissinger have portrayed themselves as brilliant practitioners of realpolitik, running a foreign policy that dispassionately served the interests of the United States.

“But these declassified White House tapes confirm a starkly different picture: racism and misogyny at the highest levels, covered up for decades under ludicrous claims of national security. A fair historical assessment of Nixon and Kissinger must include the full truth, un-bleeped,” Bass says.

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