I think we mostly agree. My statement re the significance of these remarks addresses the way they are being presented here and in the media generally, as if they revise what is generally understood to be Einstein’s beliefs. These again are diary entries, not “the fact that he said racist things as a younger person” , although your statement may well be true. I do find this sort of analysis very interesting and enlightening.
So diaries were the Twitter of their time. Except for the added advantage that usually no one got to read your nasty opinions until after you were dead and gone.
Or how many or going immediately completely demonize and dismiss him as a focused racist for the same reason.
Not many, judging by the thread so far. Most people here understand that he was a product of his times in the 1920s who changed his attitude in the 1930s and 40s.
Personal bigotry can be overcome… if one recognizes that one is indeed bigoted, and that it’s wrong, and then puts in the necessary work needed to change.
This. We grow … and isn’t that even more impressive?
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
Sure. And we should also understand that these are not historical studies. I think the BB take is probably more in line with historical thinking (hinting at the role the war played).
The problem with the media is a larger problem than just how we think about Einstein, I’d say.
Thankful for that. I didn’t mean to construe there would be a lot, in particular from the members of this board. The thought was based more on article scanners that take the bits of anything, most specifically headlines, that fit their worldview and run with them. But I digress…
"Anti-semitism has been discredited, thanks to Hitler, perhaps not forever but certainly for the time being, and this is not because the Jews have become more popular all of a sudden but because, in Mr. Ben-Gurion’s own words, most people have “realized that in our day the gas chamber and the soap factory are what anti-semitism may lead to.”
-Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem
Oh look - the media has found a new way to irritate me with articles about Albert Einstein. Apparently his diaries are full of racist stuff about Middle Easterners and Chinese people. Really? An old European scientist living in the early 1900s harbored less-than-enlightened ideas about non-Europeans and their cultures? Truly shocking!
File this along with the other science articles of the “Was Einstein Wrong About X?” variety. YES EINSTEIN WAS WRONG ABOUT ALL KINDS OF SH!T BECAUSE HE LIVED AND WORKED MORE THAN A CENTURY AGO!!!
Do you think there is any value in looking at the way people, particularly very important people, actually thought during their lives?
I fully agree that there is little value in playing gotcha with historical figures and pretending that they should have observed the same social standards we do in the moment, but I do think we gain something by looking at what historical icons actually were and how they changed.
But give it a few years, and even groups that were in the crosshairs of genocide can go on to be, well, fuckers. See: Palestine
Absolutely not. The only thing of value these days is to sound off in a comment section without reading what others have already written, and then leave.
I mean really, don’t we all have better things to do with our lives then read what others have already said that fully addresses our complaint?
You’re a bit late to the party.
I think there is in general. And if the tone of the articles was just “That’s some racist bullshit there, Albert” it would be fine. But the tone of most of the mentions I’ve seen is more like – “Oh NO, not EINSTEIN!!” Which is silly. Of course, Einstein. Expressing (or feigning) shock at the revelation just contributes to the mythologization of Einstein as some kind of Superhero-Buddha-Yoda of Science, rather than a smart guy who made some really important conceptual leaps in a very narrow intellectual field in 1905.
I would argue that the reason a lot of people are of the “oh NO, no EINSTEIN!” reaction is because he’s treated as a mythological figure rather than as three dimensional person. That’s why I think there is value in looking at things like this honestly (by which I mean recognizing that people like Einstein were subject to the flaws of their time, and being honest that our own behavior will likely have some rough spots when looked at a century from now).
My father was in New Guinea during WWII, and from what he said, the soldiers in the US army had a hell of a lot of respect for the natives and their resistance efforts, seeing them as enviable bad-asses. Though there could have been a certain amount of projection on my father’s part - he was an incredibly progressive guy, even as a young man.
Then you should learn just a tiny bit beyond the first few paragraphs here. Look at the bold, controversial work he did starting in the 1930s against racism, how ahead of his time he became.
That’s the general consensus, and even the Japanese learned (the hard way) that those ‘other people’ would make them wish they weren’t there.
Or because we know how different he was from the 30s on. It’s like Maya Angelou or Malcom X or anyone else you care to name. They weren’t perfect but still accomplished great things in a good cause.