An ugly but revealing audio recording of former president Richard Nixon, captured on his infamous Oval Office taping system, is making the rounds on social media today. In the recording, the president goes on an extended rant about the supposed dangers of homosexuality that sounds strikingly similar to -- although noticeably more tame than -- the tirades of today's anti-gay religious right leaders.
In the conversation, dated May 13, 1971, the president complains to advisors John Erlichman and Bob Haldeman that the CBS television show "All in the Family" presents homosexuality in a positive light, but also curiously refers to two of the male actors as "virile," "magnificent," and "handsome."
It only gets more bizarre and inflammatory from there -- for example, Nixon praises "strong societies" like Russia for "[rooting] out" homosexuality. (Hmmm, I wonder if President Nixon would support Russia's current efforts to do just that by cracking down on so-called "gay propaganda?") He also touches on the Boy Scouts, ancient Greece, and the Catholic Church.
I'll break down the highlights for you -- and you can listen to the audio for yourself -- after the jump.
0:12 - Nixon's complaint about "All in the Family" begins.
2:26 - Nixon discusses a character who's "obviously queer" because "he wears an ascot and so forth"
3:04 - The president begins to use the pejorative term "fairy."
4:43 - Nixon says homosexuality shouldn't be glorified on public television any more "than you glorify whores."
5:11 - In Scouts and boy's clubs, "we constantly had to clean up the staffs to keep the goddamned fags out of it."
5:19 - Although it's difficult to tell for certain, it sounds as though Nixon worries that adult gay men would "spoil all those kids." "...there's a little tendency among them all," he then says.
5:39 - Nixon claims homosexuality "destroyed" the Greeks; says Aristotle was "a homo" and so was Socrates.
5:49 - The president alleges that homosexuality took down the Romans: "The last six Roman emperors were fags."
6:02 - Popes had been "laying the nuns" for years, but the Catholic Church only really "went to hell" when "it was homosexual. And finally it had to be cleaned out."
6:21 - Nixon claims that the same thing happened in Britain and France
6:24 - The president says that "the strong societies," like Russia, "root 'em out, they don't let [gays] around at all... I don't know what they do with them." Says the Russians handle dope in a similar way.
6:42 - Homosexuality, dope, "immorality in general" are "the enemies of strong societies;" Nixon claims they're being pushed by "Communists and left-wingers" who are "trying to destroy us."
7:05 - "...goddamn it, we have got to stand up to these people."
8:14 - Discussing the gayness of San Francisco, Nixon is seemingly surprised that gays aren't just found "in the ratty part of town."
8:33 - Nixon: "I don't even want to shake hands with anybody from San Francisco. Really."
9:12 - The president calls his daughter's wedding planner "a fag."
9:24 - Nixon claims that gay fashion designers purposely make women "look so terrible" because they hate women.
While Nixon's anti-gay views were assuredly mainstream in his time, I can't help but feel like I need to take a shower after listening to his grotesquely bigoted words -- especially his praise for the way Russia "[roots] out" gay people.
How did this tape make you feel?
h/t: David Badash