'Racist' Einstein described Chinese as 'filthy people'

World | 14 Jun 2018 5:35 pm

Albert Einstein's racist and xenophobic views have been revealed in newly-published diaries, the BBC reported.

Written between October 1922 and March 1923, the diaries track his experiences in Asia and the Middle East. In them, he makes sweeping and negative generalisations, for example calling the Chinese "industrious, filthy, obtuse people.''

Einstein would later in life advocate for civil rights in the US, calling racism "a disease of white people"

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

Published by Princeton University Press, The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine, and Spain, 1922-1923 was edited by Ze'ev Rosenkranz, assistant director of the California Institute of Technology's Einstein Papers Project.

Einstein travelled from Spain to the Middle East and via Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, on to China and Japan.

The physicist describes arriving in Port Said in Egypt and facing "Levantines of every shade... as if spewed from hell" who come aboard their ship to sell their goods.

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."

But the famous physicist reserves his most cutting comments for Chinese people.

According to a piece in the Guardian about the diaries, he describes Chinese children as "spiritless and obtuse", and calls it "a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races".

In other entries he calls China "a peculiar herd-like nation," and "more like automatons than people", before claiming there is "little difference" between Chinese men and women, and questioning how the men are "incapable of defending themselves" from female "fatal attraction.''

Noted for both his scientific brilliance and his humanitarianism, Albert Einstein emigrated to the US 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 BBC reports.

The Guardian reports that Einstein also wrote that the "Chinese don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods. All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse.”

The Guardian cites, Ze’ev Rosenkranz, senior editor and assistant director of the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology, as saying: "I think a lot of comments strike us as pretty unpleasant – what he says about the Chinese in particular.

"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. They’re more off guard, he didn’t intend them for publication.”

Search Archive

Advanced Search
June 2018
S M T W T F S

Today's Standard



Yearly Magazine

Yearly Magazine