Einstein's Newly Translated Diaries Exhibit Racism

Mindy Sparks
June 14, 2018

In 1946, physicist Albert Einstein, speaking at an American college that was the first to give degrees to black people, denounced racism in a speech that birthed one of his most popular quotes: "Racism is a disease of white people".

Yes, the depressing truth is that the revered scientist responsible for E=mc and the theory of general relativity was also a xenophobic.

Einstein's writings were published by Princeton University Press, and include passages where he describes the Chinese as 'industrious, filthy, obtuse people'.

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

Very much a grown man in his mid-40s and already a famous Nobel Prize victor for his work on the photoelectric effect, Einstein wrote of people from China (as reported in The Guardian) that, "even those reduced to working like horses never give the impression of conscious suffering".

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".

Despite Einstein's intelligence and compassion, his writing suggests that he harbored some racist views of people in Asia, particularly Chinese people.

Sample these: "It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races" and "I don't understand what kind of fatal attraction Chinese women possess which enthrals the corresponding men to such an extent that they are incapable of defending themselves against the formidable blessing of offspring". "For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary", he notes.


While in Ceylon, which is present-day Sri Lanka, Einstein wrote that the people there, "live in great filth".

"[Einstein] also believes that "the climate prevents them from thinking backward or forward by more than a quarter of an hour", an attitude that reveals both Einstein's belief in geographical determinism and in the Indians' alleged intellectual inferiority", Rosenkranz writes.

Ze'ev Rosenkranz, senior editor and assistant director of the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology, who edited the volume, told the newspaper: "I think a lot of comments strike us as pretty unpleasant - what he says about the Chinese in particular".

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

Rosenkranz said the attitudes in the diary fly in the face of 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.They're more off guard, he didn't intend them for publication". "The simple economic cycle of life". He was a flawed person just like anyone else.

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.

News of the racist comments in Einstein's translated journals has sent shock waves across the internet.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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