Telegraph does research, discovers that Dawkins has ancestors

Well now that’s a new wrinkle – a Telegraph reporter phoning Dawkins to say, “Oi! Do you realize your ancestors owned slaves in Jamaica in the 18th century? What have you got to say to that? One was named Henry. They owned many slaves. Do you feel any guilt about it?” Then when Dawkins cuts the call short because it’s so stupid plus he has a lecture to prepare, the reporter phones back (despite having been dismissed, which seems quite ill-mannered) to say, “Natural selection has a lot to do with genes yeh? Well, some people might suggest that you could have inherited a gene for supporting slavery from Henry Dawkins.”

Did you ever? And that’s not even all of it. He dared Dawkins to deny Wilberforce was a Christian (and forgot to mention all the slave-owners who were Christians, he said Dawkins should make financial reparations, and he said the profit from the slaves probably paid for an “estate” belonging to Dawkins’s family, which in fact is a small struggling farm.

The reporter and reporters for all the UK media owe Dawkins quite a lot of money for all the pay they’ve been given for “researching” and writing this kind of dreck.


  1. otrame says

    You know, people really are the silliest creatures.

    I wonder if the reporter bothered to look up his own ancestors.

    The truth is that I would be astonished if there is a person walking around today who does not have both slave and slave owners among their ancestors. Sheesh.

  2. says

    My mind is blown. Seriously. This isn’t journalism. It isn’t investigation. It is harrassment, plain and simple. He couldn’t find anything wrong Richard Dawkins had done in his life, so he reached back in time and phoned him up to heckle and harangue him, unprovoked, with stuff that bears next to no relevance today, as far as I can tell, purely out of spite. This is akin to what the worst of tabloid paparazzi do. Unbelievable. Just un-fucking-believable.

  3. Erp says

    I had ancestors who probably owned slaves in Jamaica; I also had ancestors who were abolitionists (the earliest I know of from the same time as Wilberforce, mid 1780s) and who were Unitarians/deists (and possibly atheists). Our ancestors are a mixed bag. Something might be owed individually (as opposed to by society) if there is a direct benefit (e.g., Mansfield Park was bought mostly with income from the West Indian slave dependent sugar plantations and it was passed down the family to the current Sir Thomas Bertram).

    BTW at least one unit of the Church of England (the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts) was a major slaveholder in the West Indies up to the time the British government passed abolition (and compensated the slaveowners).

  4. jamessweet says

    It occurred to me while reading the story here (I had already read it over at that we don’t actually know this guy is from the Telegraph. It could have just been some wanker who wanted to give Dawkins a hard time, and posed as a Telegraph reporter so as to get at least a little time to speak.

    Not saying it is, I’m just saying it’s a bit early in the process to be forwarding this everywhere. Although, the slavery gene part is kinda hilarious.

  5. Brian Jordan says

    I see the spineless editors of the rag have not allowed any comments. Could it be that they fear that someone might mention that Dawkins’ ancestors would have had no slaves had they not been supplied by African and Arab slave traders? I don’t see any call for reparations from oil sheikhs. I wonder why?

  6. says

    You’d think that as newspapers become less and less profitable they’d want to give us reason to lament their decline. When confronted with pieces of this, er – “quality” one almost wants to celebrate it.

  7. TV200 says

    Wow, that is silly. But, then, it’s probably not unexpected from someone who presumably believes in the doctrine of “Original Sin”.

  8. julian says

    The truth is that I would be astonished if there is a person walking around today who does not have both slave and slave owners among their ancestors.

    I know I do. Slaves on my father’s side and slave owners on my mom’s. Same time frame and island, too.

  9. says

    There was someone commenting as “Mr Notsure” on Richard’s post last night, citing all the talking points Lusher had pestered RD with. I commented that Mr Notsure was probably Lusher. Today his comments are all deleted, and a Moderator said they know who he is – he’s not Lusher but he is the guy who came up with all this nonsense and couldn’t get anyone to publish a story about it…until the Telegraph did.

  10. Saikat Biswas says

    This is beyond ridiculous. I’m not much for Britain’s libel laws, but this is precisely the kind of circumstance where I genuinely believe it should be pursued to the fullest. Witless wankers!

  11. Ysidro says

    Wow, this is what the Telegraph considers journalism? I wish I had a subscription just so I could cancel it!

  12. nerdC says

    FtBers like to point to stupid postings, but this one is exceptional. Is the Telegraph sold at supermarket checkout aisles?

    Some of the nonsense was quoted from other sources,for instance:

    Esther Stanford-Xosei, of Lewisham, south London, the co-vice chairman of the Pan-African Reparations Coalition in Europe, said: “There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity.

    No statute of limitations? Those people are dead!

  13. Sili says

    But how can he have ancestors if he’s supposed to be the High Priest and Prophet of the New Atheist Religion?

    Aren’t those supposed to be born of virgins?

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