Albert Einstein Was Disappointingly Less Woke Than a Toddler on Facebook

They always say never meet your heroes because they’ll always disappoint you. This has never proved more true than when we found out that Albert Einstein’s journal from the 1920s doesn’t meet today’s standards of politically correct speech, leading some people to call the groundbreaking physicist a racist. Who are these people? I don’t know, I couldn’t actually find any examples of people saying that on social media, but The Guardian assures me they exist and are very angry.

What exactly did Einstein say? Well, here’s an excerpt from his travel diary, courtesy of The Guardian.

In China, the man who famously once described racism as “a disease of white people” describes the “industrious, filthy, obtuse people” he observes. He notes how the “Chinese don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods. All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse.” After earlier writing of the “abundance of offspring” and the “fecundity” of the Chinese, he goes on to say: “It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”


He later adds, in Rosenkranz’s words, “a healthy dose of extreme misogyny” to his xenophobia with the observation: “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”.

If you go to the poor parts of China in 1920, you’re going to have a negative opinion of China. If Einstein would have gone to Hong Kong, I’m sure his opinion would have been different. Of course, the Chinese weren’t huge fans of China in the 1920s, either, which is why the Chinese Communist Party began to grow in power in the 1920s, leading to the eventual Chinese Civil War and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. In fact, The Guardian later reported that Chinese social media users basically agreed with him.

“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.”

I personally think it’s surprising that Einstein apparently assumed the things he saw in China were somehow inborn of the people of China and not the result of being ground down under the heel of Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang party. It’s probably due to, and I never thought I’d write this sentence but here we are, it’s probably due to Einstein’s ignorance on the state of China at the time. He described what he saw and didn’t stop to think about the causes of it, which is a little bit racist, regardless of the time period.

Of course, the other interesting thing The Guardian mentioned is that social media users were calling for a boycott of Einstein. So I went on Twitter and looked. The earliest tweet I can find that has the words “boycott” and “Einstein” and isn’t talking about the BDS movement is this one, which is already referencing these supposed boycotts.

Other than that, there’s some people joking about the concept of boycotting Einstein because that’s become our default reaction whenever anyone does anything bad.

This one is my favorite though:

I think she means pi, not pie, a concept that Einstein really had no hand in developing. The concept dates back as far as Archimedes in 250 BCE who accurately computed the number to two decimal places. Over the next millennium, Chinese mathematicians would compute pi to seven digits, and by the time Einstein was born, pi had been accurately calculated to 527 digits by William Shanks. Owning the libs by not knowing what Albert Einstein actually did, which is the special theory of relativity.

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3 years ago

So it looks like EVERYONE must love EVERYTHING about EVERY culture in existence. Every country is a 1st world country (NO SHITHOLES!!). Everyone is equally refined, beautiful and intelligent. If you think one negative thought about a person of a different race, it’s because you’re a detestable racist.

3 years ago
Reply to  Kumquat

Hey Dum Dum,
It’s not about liking ‘EVERYONE’ or ‘EVERYTHING’. It’s about racists who find qualities they detest in a person and attributing those qualities to the entire race or group of people and classifying them as all the same or having those detestable qualities. That’s what Einstein was doing. You can be extremely book smart, but extremely socially retarded. Einstein was socially retarded. Yes, I said retarded.

3 years ago

As Einstein was white, if Chinese people study the theory of relativity, isn’t that cultural appropriation?

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