Asian Travel Journals Showcase Albert Einstein in All His Racist Glory

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 14, 2018

"Einstein's diary entries on the biological origin of the alleged intellectual inferiority of the Japanese, Chinese, and Indians", Rosenkranz wrote in an intro, "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".

The recently translated journals of Albert Einstein revealed that he had some racist views.

Einstein arriving in Kobe, Japan as part of his five-and-a-half month tour of the Middle and Far East. They complicate the picture of Einstein, who was the most well-known of the many Jewish scientists who left Nazi Germany as refugees in the early 1930s as an anti-racist and advocate for human rights.

This is the first time the diaries have been published as a standalone volume in English.

In 1946, speaking at Lincoln University, the first degree-granting historically black university in the US, Einstein said that racism was a "disease of white people" and added "I do not intend to be quiet about it", according to a 2007 article in the Harvard Gazette. "For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary". In his writings, which stem from 1922 to 1923, he calls the Chinese "industrious, filthy, obtuse people" and notes the following: "Chinese don't sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods. The disquieting comment that the Chinese may "supplant all other races" is also most revealing in this regard", writes Rosenkranz.

'All this occurs quietly and demurely.

He also describes 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".

'I think a lot of comments strike us as pretty unpleasant - what he says about the Chinese in particular, ' he told The Guardian.

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?" Ze'ev Rosenkranz, an editor with the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology, spoke out against Einstein's rhetoric.

"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. He was a flawed person just like anyone else.

The diaries were written between October 1922 and March 1923.

Noted for both his scientific brilliance and his humanitarianism, Albert Einstein emigrated to the U.S. in 1933 after the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.

The Jewish scientist described racism as "a disease of white people" in a 1946 speech at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania - the first university in the U.S. to award degrees to black people.

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