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Einstein The Anti-racist? Not In His Travel Diaries - Science/Technology - Nairaland

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Einstein The Anti-racist? Not In His Travel Diaries by nijabazaar: 9:19am On Jun 15, 2018
LONDON — In 1922, the same year he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, Albert Einstein set out with his wife, Elsa, on a five-and-a-half-month odyssey of discovery of a new world: the Far East and Middle East.

Along the way, he was feted by a Japanese empress and had an audience with the king of Spain. He also kept a travel diary, noting in stark, often racist terms his impressions of the people he encountered on stops in Hong Kong and Singapore, China, Japan, India and Palestine.

The personal writings do not only reveal the musings of a man grappling with a jolt to his view of the world. They also expose “Einstein’s stereotyping of members of various nations and raise questions about his attitudes on race,” according to Princeton University Press, which has published the first full English-language edition.

The first volume in a planned series — his writings were previously available in German — is now available under the title “The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein.” It complicates the portrait of a man often described as the most brilliant physicist of the modern era.

Re: Einstein The Anti-racist? Not In His Travel Diaries by nijabazaar: 9:20am On Jun 15, 2018
Einstein was a German-born Jewish scientist who was targeted by the Nazis and became known as an advocate for human rights. He once said in an interview, “Being a Jew myself, perhaps I can understand and empathize with how black people feel as victims of discrimination.”

But in his private writings on that journey from October 1922 to March 1923, “other peoples are portrayed as being biologically inferior, a clear hallmark of racism,” wrote Ze’ev Rosenkranz, assistant director of the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology and the editor of the book.

Mr. Rosenkranz said in an email on Thursday that the book “provides an insight into his prejudices, opinions and attitudes on the members of foreign nations, but also on the national/ethnic groups he belonged to himself: the Jews, the Germans and the Europeans.”

He added that it also “confronts us with the limits of his humanism, his intellectual elitism.”

“I think a lot of comments strike us as pretty unpleasant — what he says about the Chinese in particular,” he also told The Guardian. “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,” he added.

When Einstein set out on his journey, he was in his 40s, already renowned for his work on the photoelectric effect and on relativity, and developing a second reputation as a progressive public figure.
Re: Einstein The Anti-racist? Not In His Travel Diaries by nijabazaar: 9:21am On Jun 15, 2018
While some internet users called for a “boycott of Einstein” and said his observations proved “all humans, even Einstein, have a stupid, shallow side,” most said the China Einstein witnessed is nothing like it is today.

“Einstein went to China at the wrong time,” said one Weibo user, describing the early years of the Chinese republic, established in 1912, which came after centuries of imperial rule. “Hunger, war, and poverty all pressed on the Chinese. How could Chinese people at the time gain Einstein’s respect?”

Many were in strong support of the scientist: “This is called insulting China? That’s ridiculous. Did the Chinese in that era look dirty? When I see the photos from then, they look dirty, Einstein depicted the true state of that era.”

Others compared the scientists’s observations to that of Lu Xun, considered the father of modern Chinese literature, who was best known for his scathing satire of Chinese society in the early 20th century. “We praise Lu Xun because he pointed out our disadvantages. Why should we blame Einstein for this?”

Historical narratives promoted by the Chinese government often paint the days before China’s communist party took power in 1949 as chaotic.

The state-run Global Times published an editorial on Friday praising the level-headed response of Chinese internet users. The author, who goes by the pen name Gengzhige, wrote: “I’m curious what Einstein would write now if he saw the open attitudes most Chinese show today toward his private diary.”

The editorial elicited over 2,000 comments. One of the most liked responses said: “Dignity is earned by oneself, not given by others.”

But there were some dissenting voices amongst the comments: “This is just racism. We can see that Einstein is strong in physics but he doesn’t understand humans at all.”
Re: Einstein The Anti-racist? Not In His Travel Diaries by meobizy(f): 4:57pm On Jun 15, 2018
Most renowned people are assholes in one way or the other. This doesn't surprise me.
Re: Einstein The Anti-racist? Not In His Travel Diaries by nijabazaar: 12:21pm On Jul 06, 2018
meobizy:
Most renowned people are assholes in one way or the other. This doesn't surprise me.

So true....and human behaviour/Psychology/Sexuality changes over time. Well bred people can by the time they turn 60 turn into criminal masterminds and like wise

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