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Anorak | Telegraph’s hatchet job on Richard Dawkins: he is descended from slave owners

Telegraph’s hatchet job on Richard Dawkins: he is descended from slave owners

by | 19th, February 2012

RICHARD Dankins is the subject of a rather bizarre hit-piece in the  Sunday Telegraph , writes Richard Bartholomew :

He has railed against the evils of religion, and lectured the world on the virtues of atheism.

Now Richard Dawkins, the secularist campaigner against “intolerance and suffering”, must face an awkward revelation: he is descended from slave owners and his family estate was bought with a fortune partly created by forced labour.

One of his direct ancestors, Henry Dawkins, amassed such wealth that his family owned 1,013 slaves in Jamaica by the time of his death in 1744.

…In an unwitting anticipation of a later Dawkins’s opposition to religion, the Anti-Slavery Reporter also castigated Jamaica’s rulers for making slaves work on Sunday: they couldn’t worship and were condemned to “toil and secularity”.

…He is now facing calls to apologise and make reparations for his family’s past.

Esther Stanford-Xosei, of Lewisham, south London, the co-vice chairman of the Pan-African Reparations Coalition in Europe, said:… “The most appropriate course would be for the family to fund an educational initiative telling the history of slavery and how it impacts on communities today, in terms of racism and fractured relationships.”

This is of course in a long tradition of hacks generating pseudo-news rather than actually reporting anything of interest. The article has appeared  à propos  of nothing in particular, and the main revelation is hardly new: the details of Henry Dawkins’ estate and slave-ownership can be found in Richard B. Sheridan’s  Sugar and Slavery: An Economic History of the British West Indies, 1623-1775  (2000: 225-226), which is available on  Google Books preview , and Richard Dawkins’ links to the Dawkins family estate of Over Norton are  hardly secret .

Lusher also cites quotes relating to other Dawkins family members who opposed the abolition of slavery; Lusher appears to have found these himself, although the material is again readily available on  Google Books . All that Lusher needed to complete the non-story was someone willing to provide the “calls to apologise and make reparations”, and a phone-call or email to Stanford-Xosei provided that.

Lusher’s article also reports Dawkins’ own reaction:

He quoted Scripture disparagingly to insist: “I condemn

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Posted: 19th, February 2012 | In: News Comments (8) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink