Albert Einstein: "America's worst disease"
University Of Phoenix
US History 1865 to 1945
April 19, 2008
Mention Albert Einstein and the first things that come to mind are genius, mathematician, and physicist. Some would think of the Special Theory of Relativity and the well-known equation E=mc2 (energy = mass times the speed of light squared). His 1905 paper on how light moved through space was so revolutionary that it was two decades before his particle theory of light was accepted. People have written about his flirtatious nature and his marriages, most notably his second marriage to his cousin. Others say he had a speech problem, he failed his University entrance exam, and that he had an illegitimate child. Reference to all these things are easy to find, but perhaps one of his most important legacies is not in any history books or taught in school. Einstein was a staunch fighter and activist against racism in the United States and around the world.
The Silenced Humanitarian
Albert Einstein was a self-proclaimed pacifist although he advocated the use of military action against Hitler (Golden, 2000, p. 3). He was a passionate Zionist but believed strongly in Palestinians rights, revealed in his 1929 letter to his friend Chaim Weizmann saying “Should we be unable to find a way to honest cooperation and honest pacts with the Arabs, then we have learned absolutely nothing during our two thousand years of suffering and deserve all that will come to us." (American Public Media, 2008) Albert Einstein reinforced that belief in the letter that sent to the New York Times in 1948, protesting the visit of Menachem Begin.
Little has been written about Albert’s humanitarian nature, conceivably because his accomplishments in science overshadowed his views and opinions on the state of the world. A greater possibility why history has left out much of his work and writings against racism and the injustices in the world, was because he expressed views that were contrary to popular opinion, making him a target of many people in government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under the direction of Herbert Hoover went so far as to maintain a top-secret campaign against him. Herbert Hoover was encouraged to keep Einstein out of the United States by the Woman Patriot Corporation, who wrote a 16-page letter to the State Department pleading them to deny Einstein a Visa because “‘Not even Stalin himself’ was affiliated with so many anarchic-communist groups.”(Whitehouse, 2002) The letter became the first page in file kept by the FBI on Einstein's activities from the time he entered the United States, until his death in 1955. Hoover was sufficiently worried about Einstein's liberal views and his outspoken views on politics, that the FBI went as far as searching his trash, tapping his phone, opened his mail and even bugged his secretary's nephew's house. All in an attempt to link Einstein to a Soviet spy ring.
Einstein and Racism in the United States
In December 1932, Albert and his wife traveled to the United States during which time the Nazis in Germany ransacked and confiscated his home and cottage and froze his bank accounts. He would not return to Germany, saying “As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance, and equality of all citizens before the law prevail… These conditions do not exist in Germany at the present time.” (Jerome & Taylor, 2005) Albert accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. He was happy he found refuge from Germany but was disturbed by the ethical shortcomings of his new country. What he saw in his adopted country was very different from what he had hoped to find after deciding to stay in the United States. Rodger Taylor, one of the authors of “Einstein on Race and Racism” (Rutgers University Press, 2006) of Einstein said,