Better get that road rage under wraps!
After my death I could not care less...
The problem is we haven’t come to terms with this. We could all stand to be less judgmental of others, while being mindful of our own beliefs.
I hope this story will help people realize that we should not ban the work of people who have said problematic things.
Thats why they put it between quotes I guess, and I guess for the extra clicks.
Also this. That is the reason I shared this article.
At least hopefully nobody will somehow look at this as an excuse for their own racist agenda (i.e. look, such a greatly respected person has also been so racist, why can't I?). The simplistic attempt to instill one-dimensional interpretations of personalities in the public consciousness has to stop, and hopefully both the educational institutions and the media can always remind people of the complexities of every individual. Though this seems to be a tall order at least for now.
Lets hope it, although I am afraid, there will be persons who use it as an excuse or even some sort of scientific evidence or proof. I.e: "See even one of the smartest person walked on this earth finds Chinese gross this must proof something about the Chinese right?!"
> Rosenkranz told the Guardian that although views like Einstein’s were prevalent at the time, they were not universal. “That’s usually the reaction I get – ‘we have to understand, he was of the zeitgeist, part of the time’ – but I think I tried here and there to give a broader context. There were other views out there, more tolerant views,” he said.
I suppose this is the question. Einstein is certainly more known for his moral legacy than most scientists.
He was a WWII refugee and a pacifist, he authored (and later regretted) the letter sparking US nuclear ambitions, he joined the NAACP and his offer of testimony in W.E.B. DuBois' trial led to the charges against him being dropped. To me, this isn't merely the halo effect around his academic work - Einstein was at least a modest player in morality and social politics in his time, and his work fighting racism in the US does add particular relevance to the story.
I agree, though, that the story is already being overblown; we're getting news stories with Einstein's picture edited to look demonic. This is a scientist's diary from the 1920s containing views less racist than ones openly stated by US politicians from the last 50 years.
This is citizen of the Weimar Republic writing 3 years after the end of WW1. China had joined the allies in 1917, the same year as the US. Education of the era tended to encourage belief in the Empire first, civilising mission. Not to forget years of wartime propaganda. Belief in eugenics was rising and becoming popular. Including in the US and UK. It was a little later in the century those ideas would die out.
Certainly tolerance was famously prevalent in the theatre district of Berlin in the pre-Nazi early 30s. Elsewhere not so much. No doubt the historians I've read have also been biased or incomplete - that of course is far harder to judge.
This is still true in the countryside. It's a cultural not racial difference.
That's pretty much xenophobia in a nutshell.
If you took a contemporary Chinese sophisticate and transported him or her back to 1920s China, what would his or her comments be like?
> “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”
> “It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”
White supremacists could easily hold these views as well.
Otherwise, they do seem to be the same.
One needs not explicitly add "I, personally" to his personal correspondence.
"Chinese women are so ugly, I cannot understand how people manage to reproduce in China" should be read as: "I find Chinese women so ugly, that I cannot understand how people manage to reproduce in China".
It's understood that in personal correspondence everything stated is the opinion of the author. Both my fictional examples were written from a personal point of view.
The actual difference was that one expressed a personal preference without being offensive; the other called a vast group of people "ugly", which is offensive, and expressed incredulity that they even managed to find each other sexually attractive enough to reproduce (which is naive as well as offensive).
Racism is primarily subjective, so that's no excuse either. Rational justifications for racism are more often than not a posteriori justifications.
Having established that...
>The actual difference was that one expressed a personal preference without being offensive; the other called a vast group of people "ugly", which is offensive
My point is that racism is not about being offensive (or not) in one's subjective opinions. Being rude is not the same as being a racist -- even if the characteristics you're rude about belong to a race of people.
>Rational justifications for racism are more often than not a posteriori justifications.
They might be, but without them there's no racism. Just personal preference or dislike, which people are entitled to.
"Freedonians look ugly" is not racist. "Freedonians are genetically inferior" is.
Even saying "freedonians are stupid" is borderline, because they might indeed be by the criteria of the one making that statement (e.g. they might value leisure, where the one making the statement might think that it's smarter to be productive).
Racism should reflect an attribute that can be factually proven---intelligence, strength, moral character at birth, etc.
It should not reflect a totally subjective physical attribute like beauty.
"I've always thought <class of people> were dumb, weak, morally bankrupt, and have brought decadence to our country, but now that I look at this scientific study I'm convinced otherwise".
I don't know why you disagree.
Do you think racist views are true, but we should ignore them out of political correctness?
What if he is just implying that the loss of global racial diversity would be dismal, given that Chinese dwarf all other races in the world by a large margin? FWIW I know this is unlikely given the context of this post.
The writer claims that Xenophobia was not Universal, and therefore this is interesting. No view is universal; there are people alive today who believe the earth is flat, although they are a minority. In 1922 Europe, only a very small minority of people would not have been Xenophobic.
EDIT - I had a bit of a laugh at the quote about the Chinese supplanting other races. I'm a WASP, but my wife is Chinese and our kids are pretty obviously half Chinese.
If one says "the French are cowards", no one takes it to mean that you believe that all white people are cowards.
This is true even if the speaker is not white themselves, but merely living in a 'white' country.
To me, this means that no statement really stands on its own, but we constantly filter it through our lens of expectations, and current context. Given that, it's hard to look at someone from the past---a fundamentally alien context---then damn them using modern morals.
As a personal example of how we see racism within an implicit context, this poster, mentions "negroes" and my immediate feeling is to damn him for racism as in the modern era using that terminology is a sign of racism.
This is despite the fact that my CV could list me as a beneficiary of the Negro College Fund.
20 years ago, the term "coloured" was considered racist to some segments of the USA. Any variations of it, would be simiarly damned. Now, we are all people "of colour" as an accepted truth, and using 'black' is seen as vulgar, and 'african american' is seen inaccurate. Context matters immensely in these topics.
At the time it was written, Einstein had three children (though his first child's story is basically unknown, and she was either adopted or died in infancy). He was also divorced from their mother, with whom both his sons lived, but corresponded with them throughout their lives. I'd be rather interested to see an ambivalent comment like "formidable blessing" put in the context of these relationships.
I’ve always thought that the cure for xenophobia is travel, but it’s more than just travel that’s required. You can’t just breeze through as a tourist, you have to spend an extended length of time and get to know people as people.
A Westerner observing a typical 1920's Chinese person's life for the first time would have experienced the same assault on their fundamental values, especially more humanist values. It was a feudal society, where quiet tolerance in the face of extreme hardship is a cultural value, as is producing as many (male) offspring as possible. Moreover, given harsh standard of living and the large population, human life (especially those of children) was cheap and easily discarded. Finally, post-Qing China would have seemed extremely unsanitary to Western eyes -- even today Chinese authorities struggle with promulgating basic 20th century standards of hygiene (since hygiene is a norm, not a trait).
The foreigner would have been aware that 100's of millions of people lived this way (no one knew China's population was a billion plus until the CCP did the first modern census).
It would have been all to easy to take a dim view on the Chinese as people.
Fuck you, Rosenkranz. I see why Hamlet did not like you that much.