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Smeal Calls For Donald Reagan’s Resignation Over Diamond Remark

July 21, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Organization for Women on Monday urged White House chief of staff Donald Regan to resign for his remark that women might have to give up their diamonds if economic sanctions are imposed against South Africa.

NOW President Eleanor C. Smeal denounced Regan’s remarks as insulting to women and as making light of the issue of apartheid in South Africa.

″His remarks indicate a lack of understanding of one of the major human rights issues of our day,″ she said at a news conference.

″We believe they are not only insulting to women, but they are trivializing a human rights issue of a magnitude that must be promply dealt with,″ she added. ″A man who is chief adviser to the president and doesn’t understand this issue should be asked to step down.″

She added: ″He doesn’t think that the death of South Africans is important. Diamonds ... are more important.″

Regan was identified last week as the senior White House official who was quoted as making a remark suggesting women weren’t willing to sacrifice jewelry for economic pressures against the apartheid system of racial separation in South Africa.

″Are the women of America prepared to give up all their jewelry?″ he said. ″Are the Israelis, the Belgians, the Netherlands people prepared not to engage in any more diamond trade?″

President Reagan later said news accounts had distorted the remark.

Joining NOW in calling for Regan’s resignation were representatives of the National Women’s Political Caucus, the National Political Congress of Black Women, and TransAfrica, a group pushing for a change in U.S. policy on South Africa.