Einstein's Travel Diaries Have Just Been Published - And The Contents Are Upsetting


Albert Einstein famously called racism a “disease of white people”, but it appears it is a disease he himself wasn’t immune to, at least in his early life. Yes, the depressing truth is that the revered scientist responsible for E=mc2 and the theory of general relativity also expressed xenophobic views.

The revelation comes after the publication of a series of private travel diaries he wrote during a tour of Asia in the early twenties, in which he describes Chinese people as “obtuse” and Sri Lankans as people who "do little, and need little". This is the very first time the travel diaries have been printed as a standalone volume and the first time they will be available to non-academics.

In October 1922, Einstein set off on a 5.5-month tour of Spain, Palestine, and the Far East, documenting details of his travels and recording his musings on science, philosophy, art, and politics in a series of telegraphic-style diary entries. Unfortunately, they also contain quite a few unsavory comments that can quite easily be construed as racist. 

The worst descriptions appear to be targeted at people in China, where he spent two brief stints during the trip. He calls the Chinese “industrious, filthy, obtuse people” and goes on to say, they are "often more like automatons than people.” 

Then, he throws in some misogyny with the racism for good measure, commenting: “I noticed how little difference there is between men and women; 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.”

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