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Genius Scientist Discovers His Research May Be Used For Evil, Becomes Pacifist

No, damn it. Albert Einstein was a political radical and anti-racist.

When it came to how to handle Einstein’s ashes or his house on Mercer Street, everyone involved meticulously adhered to his wishes. But when it involved his ideas, and especially his concerns about what he called America’s “worst disease,” the fact that Einstein wanted his views made as public as possible seems to have slipped past his historians.

(Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor, Preface, Einstein On Race And Racism (via Professor Kim).)

I've been going through a bunch of the documents from when my father was Executive Director of the Greater New York Council For A Sane Nuclear Policy and getting back into the history of the Left and the peace movement in the early 60s.

Albert Einstein was always one of my father's heroes. Maybe Dad knew the anti-racist part, but all I remember hearing is the bumbling genius pacifist in a wrinkled suit version.

More than one hundred biographies and monographs of Einstein have been published, yet not one of them mentions the name Paul Robeson, let alone Einstein’s friendship with him, or the name W. E. B. Du Bois, let alone Einstein’s support for him. Nor does one find in any of these works any reference to the Civil Rights Congress whose campaigns Einstein actively supported. Finally, nowhere in all the ocean of published Einsteinia – anthologies, bibliographies, biographies, summaries, articles, videotapes, calendars, posters and postcards – will one find even an islet of information about Einstein’s visits and ties to the people in Princeton’s African American community around the street called Witherspoon.

Oh this makes me mad...

Yet, despite Einstein’s clear intention to make his politics public – especially his anti-lynching and other antiracist activities – the history-molders have seemed embarrassed to do so. Or nervous. “I had to think about my Board,” a museum curator (who doesn’t want his name used even today) said, explaining why he had omitted some of the scientist’s political statements from the major exhibition celebrating Einstein’s one hundredth birthday in 1979.

Reminds me of the cover up on Helen Keller's radical socialism.

Thanks, Professor Kim, for blasting the truth into the blogosphere.

I think I'm going to have to get this book when it comes out next week.

Read the rest of the preface here.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • bitchphd July 21, 2005, 9:53 pm

    That’s very cool; thank you for the book recommendation. One of the huge problems in encouraging whites to become anti-racist is their perception that there are no role models; this is helpful.

  • Ben G. July 21, 2005, 10:44 pm

    What you say about whites not feeling they have role models for anti-racism is an interesting insight, which I wouldn’t mind hearing you expand on.

    My first thought is, what about all those white people who participated in the Civil Rights Movement?

    I think you and I both have examples in our own families. I would say, for myself, that having my father’s example has been deeply important, but having relationships with Black people and discussing race issues with them is also important. Probably having the model led me to work at the second part.

  • Walker Willingham August 9, 2005, 11:35 am

    Thanks for bringing this out in the open. (I too, knew of his pacifist bent, but nothing of the anti-racist angle) Also thanks for the link to the Helen Keller piece. I recently used one of her great quotes which appeared there in my own blog post. (I found your blog because we both recently posted on the Cindy Sheehan story.)

    -Walker

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