Look out, he’s got a whip

And last item on your exciting breakfast menu, all items with complimentary orange slice and sprig of mint, the Daily Mail on Dawkins as sekrit descendant of slaveowners.

Never mind, don’t get excited, it’s just the Telegraph article, reported. It does add one stupidity of its own though –

Equality groups are now calling on him to apologise for his family’s past.

Are they? Really? Groups, plural? Independently of reporters phoning them and asking for a quote? Can you name as many as one?

Plus they added an illustration.

 Ancestors of Richard Dawkins are believed to have been linked to slavery


Ancestors of Richard Dawkins are believed to have been linked to slavery

Filthy. They’re a filthy crew. We knew that, but it’s worth saying anyway.


  1. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    Is this a case of
    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”
    The attacks do reek of desperation and barrel-scraping, don’t they.

  2. peterh says

    How many people, digging far enough into the past, will not find they are descended from both slaves and slave owners? And of those, how many will feel required to “apologize”?

  3. devdasdavids says

    Do you think any editors over at the Mail realizes the ridiculousness of stuff like this? They must do… But then, if they do, why does it get into the paper?

  4. Dave says

    This is, in fact, hilarious. But it’s only hilarious because we know it isn’t going to shut Richard Dawkins up, and he’s capable of exploiting it to come out with the upper hand. A slightly less robust figure, assailed in the same way, might be bullied into silence. And that’s not hilarious at all.

  5. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Janine, if we go back far enough, both of us are descended from a Keith Richards ancestor.

  6. Julia F says

    It would appear that none of my slave-owning ancestors were atheists and none of my atheist ancestors were slave owners.

  7. says

    Come to think of it, my great great (etc) grandfather might have done something for which he fully deserved to hang, but I would object to a descendant of an offended party coming after me for retribution.

  8. nemothederv says

    I’d just like to respond to the Daily Mail by asking this:

    So what?

    Even if he did inherit “slave money”(which I doubt) he also has revenue from several best sellers and a nice nest egg from his work at Oxford among other things. He didn’t inherit those.
    Besides, we’re not talking about a Koch brother level of money.

    Okay fine, Richard Dawkins officially apologizes for being born. Happy?

  9. says

    I guess the sins of the fathers really will be visited on the children! (Or the sins of the great-great-great-great-great grandfathers, according to the handy chart provided by the Daily Mail.)

  10. Arkady says

    I’m decended from Richard Arkwright’s brother, does that mean I’m responsible for use of indentured child labour during the Industrial Revolution? Aw crap… and we certainly didn’t see any of the Arkwright fortune, my decent from him went through several working-class Lancashire mill workers!

  11. Emily Isalwaysright says

    I guess they’ve been digging for some decent mud to fling and this is all they could come up with. Which implies that Dawkins is probably a faithful husband who wears clean socks, pays his taxes and eats his vegies. They got nuttin’.

  12. GordonWillis says

    Equality groups are now calling on him to apologise for his family’s past.

    Hilarious! Mind-bogglingly side-splittingly hilarious! As soon as a journalist finds an excuse for a cause, there’s a whole bunch of groups calling “woe!” “alas!” and “pay up!” in support. How did he manage to find all these people in the instant between “what a good idea!” and “let’s get rolling”? He must have worked very hard. So now Dawkins is a selfish capitalist who has to apologise for his ancestors, as though he were some nation-state with a history of pogroms, like Turkey or the Vatican. Let’s hope that none of Adam Lusher’s forebears have left any issue of black Americans who might demand reparations.

  13. says

    Gordon – I know – it really is funny. They must have actually forgotten that they’re reporting the “story” themselves and that therefore it’s physically impossible for groups to be “calling for” things internal to the story itself.

    I wonder if journalists make that mistake often. It seems quite remarkably clumsy. You’d think they would notice. “Oh wait – groups can’t be reacting already to what I’m writing in this story, because it hasn’t been published yet, because I’m still writing it. I’d better not say they are. That would look rilly stupid. I’d better wait until tomorrow at least.”

  14. GordonWillis says

    It’s the same as the accommodationist ploy, the ploy that Barbara King uses too. You just make a nasty accusation and you know that some people will like it, and the tide of complaint builds up, and then there really are equality groups getting concerned. QED. It’s all about getting the votes. All you need to do is plant the idea.

  15. dirigible says

    They must have actually forgotten that they’re reporting the “story” themselves and that therefore it’s physically impossible for groups to be “calling for” things internal to the story itself.

    I was wondering where Johann Hari had got to.

  16. says

    Daily Mail headline: “Revealed: How atheist Richard Dawkins’ family fortune came from the slave trade.”

    There are at least four possibilities here:

    1: Causation: atheism leads to slave trading.

    2. Causation: slave trading leads to atheism.

    3. That given an alleged family history somewhere of slave trading, it is inconsistent for Dawkins to be an atheist. (He should be a Methodist, Buddhist, Calvinist or Papist perhaps?)

    4. This somehow proves the existence of God.

  17. says

    What’s hilarious is when there is any muttering about reparations from the descendants of slaves eg from people from Jamaica, the Daily Mail is the first to say how ridiculous, the Romans had British slaves and are we asking for reparations, and so on.

  18. Brian Jordan says

    Ah, but they weren’t reporting the story themselves – they were copying it, unattributed, from the Torygraph. Strangely, although several others (including Richard Dawkins) pointed this out among the many comments, my version didn’t get past the mods. Was it because I also questioned whether there had been an attempt to syndicate it? (It seems, from the RDF site, that Lusher didn’t come up with the story himself and it had been offered to at least one other paper by a pseudonymous poster on the RDF comments.) Surely we should be told!

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