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brilliant physicist, humanitarian and racist?



1922, the same year as he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, Albert Einstein released his wife Elsa on a 5½ month odyssey for the discovery of a new world: Far East and Middle East.

Way he was feted by a Japanese empress and had an audience with the Spanish king. He also held a travel journal and noted in sharp, often racist terms, his impression of the people he encountered at stops in Hong Kong and Singapore, China, Japan, India and Palestine.

The personal scriptures not only reveal the musings of a man catching a shot against his view of the world. According to Princeton University Press, which has published the first full English-language edition, they also expose Einstein's stereotyping of members of different nations and ask questions about his attitudes about race.

Many comments make us rather unpleasant ̵

1; what he says about the Chinese in particular

The first volume of the faith – available in German, but now available under the English title Albert Einstein's travel books – complicates the portrait of a man often described as the most brilliant physicist of the modern era.

Einstein was a German-born Jewish scientist who addressed the Nazis and became known as a advocate of human rights. He once said in an interview: "Being a Jew himself, maybe I can understand and empathize with how black people feel as victims of discrimination."

However, in their private writings on the journey from October 1922 to March 1923, "other people are depicted as biologically inferior, a distinctive feature of racism," according to Ze Rosenkranz, Deputy Director of Einstein Papers Project at California Institute of Technology and the editor of the book.

"I think a lot of comments make us quite unpleasant – what he says about the Chinese in particular," Rosenkranz told guardian . "They are typical as opposed to the public image of the great humanitarian icon. I think it is quite shocking to read them and contrast them with his more public statements. They are more discouraged; he did not think they should be published." [19659009] When Einstein struck his journey, he was in the 40's, already known for his work on photoelectric effect and relativity, and developed a second reputation as a progressive public figure. The travel books are, however, another side of a remarkable mind.

In Hong Kong

he expresses sympathy for the "hit men, men and women who hit stones daily and have to claim them for 5 cents a day." He adds: "The Chinese are severely punished for the fecundity of the insensitive economic machine."

– He quotes Portuguese teachers who said "The Chinese are unable to be trained to think logically and that they do not have any talent for mathematics," adds: "I noticed how little difference there is between men and women: I do not understand what kind of lethal attraction that Chinese women have that attracts the corresponding men to such an extent that they can not defend themselves against the offensive's blessing. "

Around the Mainland China

– He writes about observing" industrial, dirty, unpleasant people ".

– "Chinese people do not sit on benches while they eat but squat as Europeans do when they wind out in the leafy forest. All this takes place quietly and thoughtfully. Even the children are spiritual and look uncomfortable."

– "It It would be a pity if these Chinese replaced all other races. For us, the only thought is undoubtedly boring. "

In Shanghai

– A Chinese funeral is described as" barbaric to our taste ", the streets" swarm with pedestrians " .

– "In the air there is a stink of infinite diversity."

– "Even those who are impaired to work as horses never give the impression of conscious suffering. A rare flock-like nation," he writes, "often more like vending machines than humans ".

In Japan

– "Japanese relentless, decent, very appealing" writes Einstein and assumes a flattering tone, but in some cases it goes to eugenic territory.

– "The intellectual needs of this nation seem to be weaker than their artistic-natural disposition?"

In Ceylon

– Visit the British colony which later became Sri Lanka, Einstein writes that the inhabitants of Colombo "live in big filth and great stench at ground level" and adds that they "do little and need some." The simple economic cycle of life. "

While many may insist on rejecting diary entries reflecting only the attitudes of the age, Rosenkranz ] declared xenophobia and the prejudices they revealed had been far from universal.

"It's usually the reaction I get:" We must understand, he was of the Zeitgeist, part of time, "he said." But I think I tried here and there to give a broader context. There were other views out there, more tolerant opinions. "

Einstein's shifting views can be illustrated most vigorously by serving his scientific fame for the American civil court's movement

In China, however, many social media users seemed willing to give Einstein the benefit of doubt, or even agree with him.

"It was the impression China gave to the world ever since," wrote a user on Weibo, a Twitter-like social network. "If it were now, Einstein would not say such things."

"After snoring in a diary you blame them for not enjoying yourself," wrote another Weibo user.

Some pressed back. "With what you say, you acknowledge Einstein's racism against the Chinese and apologize for him," wrote a person in a blog post.

If anything, Einstein's travel diaries add an unexpected twist to the legacy of the man, which under no circumstances developed.

For example, when his 11-year-old first marriage – to a co-researcher Mileva Maric – failed, he created a misogynistic manifesto in an apparent belief that it would help save the Union, according to Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson.

Einstein demanded, among other things, that she kept her room nicely, take him three meals a day and stop talking when he requested – without expectation that he would return to the benefit. A few months later she left him; they differed in 1919.

Einstein's shifting views can be illustrated most vigorously by putting his scientific fame into service for US civil law.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, 1931, he joined a committee to protest unfairly in Scottsboro Boys trial in Alabama, where nine African-American youths were falsely accused of raping two white women.

And in a 1946 introductory speech at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, he declared: "There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be silent about it." [19659002] – New York Times


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