Einstein's Newly Translated Diaries Exhibit Racism

Einstein's Newly Translated Diaries Exhibit Racism

The Jewish scientist described racism as "a disease of white people" in a 1946 speech at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Albert Einstein's racist attitudes towards Chinese people have been revealed following the publication of travel diaries he kept during a visit to Asia in the 1920s.

Speaking about the "abundance of offspring" and the "fecundity" of the Chinese, he continued: "It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary", he notes.

Albert Einstein, the most important physicist of the modern era and a man who famously attacked American racist ideologies, wrote down detailed, racist ideas about people from China, Japan, Sri Lanka and India.

"They're kind of in contrast to the public image of the great humanitarian icon", he adds. "I think it's quite a shock to read those and contrast them with his more public statements", he said.

In October 1922, Einstein set off on a 5.5-month tour of Spain, Palestine, and the Far East, documenting details of his travels and recording his musings on science, philosophy, art, and politics in a series of telegraphic-style diary entries.

The senior editor of the published diaries, Ze'ev Rosenkranz, told the Guardian that Einstein's observations, in no uncertain terms, underpin numerous racist ideas about the inferiority of races that persist today.

He also described his time in Colombo in Ceylon, writing of the people: "They live in great filth and considerable stench down on the ground, do little, and need little".

Franz Boas, a scientific anthropologist and older contemporary of Einstein's who moved from Germany to the United States in 1899 (also to become a professor in the Ivy League, at Columbia University), wrote extensive critiques of the pop-pseudoscience of "scientific racism".

He was more positive about the Japanese people, though felt that they were intellectually inferior.

Unlike the Chinese he met, Einstein perceived the Japanese more positively, describing them as "unostentatious, decent, altogether very appealing". "One has to love and admire this country", he wrote, but Rosenkranz emphasized that the physicist, at the same time, concluded, asking rhetorically, the "intellectual needs of this nation seem to be weaker than their artistic ones - natural disposition?"

'Pure souls as nowhere else among people. "I noticed how little difference there is between men and women", he wrote.

Rosenkranz said that although views like Einstein's were prevalent at the time, they were not universal.

The Washington Post reported that Einstein described Levantines during his travels to the Mediterranean as a "screaming and gesticulating" group of people "of every shade".

"I would hope that people have a more authentic view and contextualized view of his personality and see him more as a three-dimensional person, who like all of us had prejudices, who could be offensive", Rosenkranz told NBC News.

As reported by Smithsonian Magazine, Einstein publicly aligned himself with the values of the US civil rights movement.

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