Albert Einstein is widely known for his scientific discoveries and humanitarian causes, but his newly published travel diaries may disappoint a lot of people. His writings revealed stereotyping of members of various nations. The diary recorded Einstein’s reflections on science, philosophy, art, and politics, among others things when he and his wife Elsa Einstein embarked on a five-and-a-half-month journey to the Far East and the Middle East in the fall of 1922.
Einstein’s attitude toward race
Before the content of his private travel diaries was made known, Einstein’s stances on race were well know — he was strongly against racism. In fact, one of his most memorable speeches was about racism in America. In the said speech, Einstein shared his observation on the separation of colored people and white people in the United States. He declared the segregation a “disease of white people” and refused to remain quiet about it.
The entries in his travel diaries were written prior to his witnessing of racism in Germany and America, but its contents could still tarnish his reputation.
Einstein’s travel diaries covered his travel from Spain to the Middle East and via Sri Lanka (then called Ceylon), and then on to China and Japan. His diary entry dated from his arrival in Port Said in Egypt stated that he faced “Levantines of every shade … as if spewed from hell” as he described the people who boarded their ship to sell their goods.
In his time in Colombo, Ceylon, the world-renowned physicist described the people as those living in “great filth and considerate stench down on the ground, do little, and need little.” His most unkind comment, however, was for the Chinese people, whom he described as “spiritless and obtuse.” He also noted it would be a pity of the Chinese would replace all other races. He also called China “a peculiar herd-like nation,” “more like automatons than people,” among others.