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Stewart's Avatar Jump to comment 334 by Stewart

Comment 331 by Zeuglodon

Good points, but I think the majority would see it for the underhanded ploy that it is.

If one is not taken by surprise on the phone, as Richard was, the disingenuousness of the whole thing is embarrassingly obvious. By that I mean that, of course, we all know Richard was being made a target here, and why. But even if one were to agree to the absurd ideas that it might be incumbent on Richard to right all and any wrongs his ancestors might have committed, or that he had genetically inherited whatever it was that made any of them accept the idea of slavery, it is still preposterous. If Lusher's only job on the Telegraph were to track down slave-owners and their descendants (which I doubt it is), where does he begin? Not with present-day slavers? Not with ancient rulers who had more slaves than we can imagine, and from whom almost all of us are certainly descended? Why is his destination Jamaica of a few centuries ago? And let's even suppose that by some empirical measure of the evils of slavery, it's Richard's ancestor who is demonstrably the worst, would it not then be Lusher's job to track down all of his descendants, not just the famous atheist?

No, the fact that he has drawn a straight line only between the one man his employers want to besmirch and one particular case of slave-owning, ignoring both all other slave-owners in history and all other descendants of Richard's ancestor, is all the admission one needs that there is not and never was anything honest or bona fide about this whole exercise. Nothing ever motivated any of this except "let's see what the worst is we can dig up on him." I have no doubt Lusher would have written almost exactly the same things regardless of what Richard said to him on the phone. With hindsight, had Richard had an inkling of what was to come, Lusher's opening sentence should have been interrupted after “We’ve been researching the history of the Dawkins family -" with a very pointed "Why?"

Thu, 23 Feb 2012 23:21:10 UTC | #921321