The Sins of the Fathers

Richard Dawkins writes about the phone calls he received recently from journalist Adam Lusher, who began the first call somewhat as follows:

“We’ve been researching the history of the Dawkins family, and have discovered that your ancestors owned slaves in Jamaica in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. What have you got to say about that?”

Dawkins replied:

“Your ancestors probably did too. It’s just that we happen to know who my ancestors were and perhaps we don’t know yours.”

After a second call, in which Lusher demonstrated his total lack of understanding about genetics, the fruits of his labour were duly published in the Sunday Telegraph. The article is at best laughable, and at worst low, cheap and out of order – and that is apparently the view of a fellow journalist at the Telegraph.

For the record, I can trace my family back to Sir John Gordon of Embo, who died in 1779. I note that my great-great-great-grandfather (George Home Murray) had two uncles on his mother’s side (Dr. John Gordon and George Gordon) who were both, as I understand it, plantation and slave owners in Jamaica. It’s not unusual.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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