Albert Einstein's Travel Diaries Reveal He Was Racist

14 Juin, 2018, 10:34 | Auteur: Therese Cote
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The journals, published as "The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein" by Princeton University Press, reveal that Einstein, perhaps the most famous scientist of all time and known for his theory of general relativity and the equation e=mc2, was extraordinarily biased towards certain populations.

The diary covers Einstein's five-and-a-half-month journey through Spain, the Middle East, and Asia in 1922. Einstein visited China, specifically Shanghai, twice.

"Here, Einstein perceives a foreign "race" as a threat, which... is one of the characteristics of a racist ideology", he said.

"Einstein's diary entries on the biological origin of the alleged intellectual inferiority of the Japanese, Chinese, and Indians are definitely not understated and can be viewed as racist - in these instances, other peoples are portrayed as being biologically inferior, a clear hallmark of racism".

In them, he makes sweeping and negative generalisations, for example calling the Chinese "industrious, filthy, obtuse people".

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".

These published diaries stand in stark contrast to Einstein's reputation as a humanitarian and civil rights icon.

And yet, in his diary, Einstein appears to have been aflicted with this disease.

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"Chinese don't sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods", Einstein wrote. All this occurs quietly and demurely. "Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse", he wrote. "The disquieting comment that the Chinese may "supplant all other races" is also most revealing in this regard", Rosenkranz stated. "For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary", he notes.

Elsewhere, Einstein denounces the "abundance of offspring" and the "fecundity" of the Chinese. However, he later goes on to blatantly call the Japanese inferior in terms of intelligence.

However, he also noted that the "intellectual needs of this nation seem to be weaker than their artistic ones - natural disposition?"

For all their fineness, they give the impression that the climate prevents them from thinking backward or forward by more than a quarter of an hour.

In Colombo, in what was then called Ceylon and now Sri Lanka, Einstein says the locals "live in great filth and considerable stench at ground level" adding that they "do little, and need little". Simple economic cycle of life.

Although Einstein never intended his diary to be seen by the public eye, its pages further add to our understanding of him, casting him as a superhuman genius, but one who still shared numerous prejudices of his era. "Pure souls as nowhere else among people".

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

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