Nixon on the Drug War, Blacks, Gays, Hippies and Jews

President Richard Nixon with (from left) H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Henry Kissinger and William Rogers in 1969.

This segment is a great example of that. It also lends a lot of support to Ehrlichman's assertion that Nixon viewed the drug war as just another way to go after people he didn't like.

May 13, 1971, between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm – Oval Office Conversation 498-5 – meeting with Nixon, Haldeman and Ehrlichman

[The President and his advisors were discussing a recent episode of All in the Family, a television show on CBS. President Nixon was offended by the show's favorable treatment of homosexuals.]

Nixon: "But, nevertheless, the point that I make is that God damn it, I do not think that you glorify on public television homosexuality. The reason you don't glorify it John anymore than you glorify, uh, uh, uh, whores. Now we all know people who have whores and we all know that people are just, uh, do that, we all have weaknesses and so forth and so on, but God damn it, what do you think that does to kids? What do you think that does to 11 and 12 year old boys when they see that? Why is it that the Scouts, the, why is it that the Boys Clubs, we were there, we constantly had to clean up the staffs to keep the God damned fags out of it. Because, not because of them, they can go out and do anything they damn please, [unintelligible] all those kids? You know, there's a little tendency among them all. Well by God can I tell you it outraged me. Not for any moral reason.

'Most people are outraged for moral reasons, I, it outraged me because I don't want to see this country go that way. You know there are countries – You ever see what happened, you know what happened to the Greeks. Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that, so was Socrates.'

Ehrlichman: "He never had the influence that television had."

Nixon: "Do you know what happened to the Romes, Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. The last six. Nero had a public wedding to a boy. Yeah. And they'd [unintelligible]. You know that. You know what happened to the Popes? It's all right that, po-po-Popes were laying the nuns, that's been going on for years, centuries, but, when the popes, when the Catholic Church went to hell, in, I don't know, three or four centuries ago, it was homosexual. And finally it had to be cleaned out. Now, that's what's happened to Britain, it happened earlier to France. And let's look at the strong societies. The Russians. God damn it, they root them out, they don't let them around at all. You know what I mean? I don't know what they do with them. Now, we are allowing this in this country when we show [unintelligible]. Dope? Do you think the Russians allow dope? Hell no. Not if they can allow, not if they can catch it, they send them up.

'You see, homosexuality, dope, immorality in general: These are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the Communists and the left-wingers are pushing the stuff, they're trying to destroy us.'

Nixon with Haldeman in the oval office, where the famous "Nixon Tapes" were recorded.

I compare Nixon to a loudmouth drunk because he really did seem to have a special relationship with alcohol (like a lot of people from his generation did). As a kid I first heard about the “social drinking” excuse. That's the lie that drinking alcohol is perfectly acceptable and harmless because people usually don't drink to get drunk, they drink to be sociable. It's scary that we can still hear that today. Here's how Nixon put it:

June 2, 1971, Time:  3:16 pm - 4:15 pm – Oval Office Conv. 510-3 – Nixon met with John Ehrlichman

Nixon: "Why in the name of God do these people take this stuff?"

Ehrlichman: "For the same reason they drink. It's a, they're bored, it's a, it's a diversion."

Nixon: "Drinking is a different thing in a sense. Uh, [Art] Linkletter's point I think is well taken, he says, 'A person may drink to have a good time' -"

Ehrlichman: "Mm-hmm"

Nixon: "...but a person does not drink simply for the purpose of getting high. You take drugs for the purpose of getting high."

Erlichman: "Yep, yep."

Nixon: "There is a difference."

I think about Nixon quite a bit these days, particulalry whenever I hear Donald Trump speak. Trump would've gotten along well with Nixon. They're two of a kind you might even say: bitter, angry, frustrated, bullying, short-fingered vulgarians, surrounded by yes-men who excuse their own crimes because they're simply following orders. As Hunter S. Thompson put it in his seminal work Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72: “It is Nixon himself who represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character almost every other country in the world has learned to fear and despise.”

It's a history we need to remember lest we're forced to repeat it.


Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.