Newly declassified tapes White House tapes show the depth of racism and misogyny during the 1970s at the highest levels in the US against Indians and then-PM Indira Gandhi — expressed by none other than the infamous President Richard Nixon himself.
“Undoubtedly the most unattractive women in the world are the Indian women,” Nixon said in June 1971 in an Oval Office conversation. “Undoubtedly,” he repeated.
The revelations are the result of Princeton professor Gary Boss obtaining un-bleeped tapes from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. The tapes were published in the opinion section of the New York Times. Nixon continued: “The most sexless, nothing, these people. I mean, people say, what about the Black Africans? Well, you can see something, the vitality there, I mean they have a little animallike charm, but God, those Indians, ack, pathetic. Uch.”
More disturbing are the implications of the impact such problematic views may have had on Nixon’s policy towards India, which at that time defeated Pakistan in a war that saw the birth of Bangladesh.
The US had backed Pakistan, but the administration harboured prejudices against Pakistanis too. Henry Kissinger, then Nixon’s national security adviser, said on 10 Aug 1971, “I tell you, the Pakistanis are fine people, but they are primitive in their mental structure. They just don’t have the subtlety of the Indians.”
Kissinger, who continues to be influential in the US political ecosystem, told Nixon on 17 June 1971 that Indians “are superb flatterers, Mr President.
They are masters at flattery. They are masters at subtle flattery. That’s how they survived in 600 years. They suck up — their great skill is to suck up to people in key positions.” On 4 Nov 1971, while Nixon was in the midst of a summit with PM Indira Gandhi, he ranted at Kissinger about his sexual prejudices against Indians.
“To me, they turn me off. How the hell do they turn other people on, Henry? Tell me.” The Princeton academic Gary Boss says Nixon’s sexual disgust may have influenced his foreign policy.
Nixon further said during that conversation: “They turn me off. They are repulsive and it’s just easy to be tough with them.”