For American presidents, racist rhetoric is something that has always been synonymous with them. Their despicable and contemptible views towards blacks and African Americans are well documented. And they are condescending.
The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, utters statements filled with racist overtones. You expect it from him. That is identity politics. Racism. He never cares about the repercussions of his statements. But what he does is just entrenching a deep-rooted system of having politics that can never be divorced from racism. It is what American presidents have systematically exhibited as history shows us.
In 1971, a telephone call was recorded. It was between Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. At that time, Ronald Reagan was the Governor of California. And Richard Nixon was the president of the United States. This call was made by Reagan to express his raging discontent and disgruntlement at the United Nations as an institution and more particularly, at Africans. He disliked Africans to the core, never viewing them as fellow human beings but rather as inferior, second class beings.
The hot topic that had shown his hatred for Africans was that of Taiwan's status. The UN had resolved to recognize China and expel Taiwan. Reagan was a staunch defender of Taiwan. African member states had voted against the United States. They had professed support for China. Tanzanian delegates even danced in the General Assembly at the passing of the resolution to recognize a seat from Beijing. Reagan was infuriated by this. So he called Richard Nixon about the whole matter.
Reagan said, "Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did." Nixon replied, "Yeah.." Then Reagan went on, "To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon can be heard giving off a huge laugh, in the tapes that were released by The Atlantic. That is how both men viewed Africans. As monkeys. Not human beings. No.
Both Nixon and Reagan were fuming with a volcano of anger at the Africans who had not sided with them, and had been determined to sever ties with them for that period. Nixon's loss had been a culmination of many factors, but he chose one scapegoat convenient for rhetoric at the time, and even up to now - AFRICANS. It was a classic case of racist venting.
Nixon, quoting Reagan, referred to Africans as "cannibals" who " weren’t even wearing shoes." A very grim portrayal of Africans in the minds of the white rulers at that time. It served their political interests well. Because to them, Africans were nothing except a nuisance in the smooth running of global politics. So, damn them, the cannibals.
This kind of thinking is what we see in Donald Trump right now. It is also the kind of thinking that is gaining traction in mainstream European politics. It is not a new thing at all. It was this same kind of thinking that was the major premise of imperialism that wreaked havoc not only in Africa but also in Asia and South America as there was complete despise of the natives there.
This was Nixon's view towards black politics: "Have in mind one fact: Did you realize there is not, of the 40 or 45—you’re at the United Nations—black countries that are represented there, not one has a president or a prime minister who is there as a result of a contested election such as we were insisting upon in Vietnam? I’m not saying that blacks cannot govern; I am saying they have a hell of a time. Now, that must demonstrate something.”
That something was just the racist thinking of the American and other white leaders. True, Africa is always mired by endless problems, but that does not absolve the white rulers from their blatant racism.
Ronald Reagan is infamous for supporting the apartheid government in South Africa in the 1970s. He was never the one to be siding with the black people. Never.
Ronald Reagan died in 2004 after a very long battle with Alzheimer's disease.
Header image credit - BBC