For several years now, Slate's Timothy Noah has been all over the sordid story of President Nixon's efforts to purge Jews from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now comes a new installment. It's based on the release of previously untranscribed White House conversations about the crusade, and a memo by then-White House personnel director Fred Malek detailing, Noah writes, "the planned transfer of three Jews to less-visible jobs and the effective demotion of a BLS deputy with a Jewish-sounding surname."
It's a stunning story about not just anti-Semitism but the depths of Nixon's paranoia about the federal bureaucracy and the lengths he was prepared to go to bend it to his political will.
Some key Nixon quotes:
- "All right, I want a look at any sensitive areas around where Jews are involved.... See, the Jews are all through the government, and we have got to get in those areas. We've got to get a man in charge who is not Jewish to control the Jewish."
- "The government is full of Jews. Second, most Jews are disloyal. You know what I mean? You have a [White House Counsel Leonard] Garment and a [National Security Adviser Henry] Kissinger and, frankly, a [White House speechwriter William] Safire, and, by God, they're exceptions. But ... generally speaking, you can't trust the bastards. They turn on you. Am I wrong or right?"
- "There's a Jewish cabal, you know, running through this.... But there's the BLS staff. Now how the hell do you ever expect us to get anything from that staff, the raw data, let alone what the poor guys have to say [inaudible] that isn't gonna be loaded against us? You understand?"