Dawkins, slave to the past

pnbrownMay 3, 2012

An interesting disclosure about Richard Dawkins' slave-trafficking ancestors:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9091007/Slaves-at-the-root-of-the-fortune-that-created-Richard-Dawkins-family-estate.html

Dawkins, normally the god of logic, waxed a bit illogical when challenged. The question isn't whether he carries only 1 in 512 genes from the slave-holders, but whether he carries only or more than 1 in 512 pounds of grimy slave-wrung money. Or any at all, for that matter.

I have noticed that Brits get even more het up about ancestral connections to slavery than Americans do. More repressed guilt, and for good reason.

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lionheart_gw

Seriously? There are people who think Dawkins and his family should apologize and make reparations? Get real.

These living descendents had absolutely nothing to do with slavery or anything else that happened prior to 1833. I think the Forever Easily Offended groups need to find something productive to do.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 10:01AM
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inkognito

Slave owning was quite the normal thing 300 years ago..slave trafficking not so much, one word makes a big difference don't you think? If you want to get into the ridiculous 'who has a better record on slavery' thing remember that the abolition of slavery was driven by Great Britain and one of the last countries to give it up was the US. (South, sorry Mrs).

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 10:30AM
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jodik_gw

How ridiculous. We should be called upon to make reparations for that which we are involved in today, not that which some loosely related family member did hundreds of years ago.

In order to believe in the writings of the bible, one must believe the bible to be fact, not fiction.

Someone has way too much time on their hands... as I recall, the 1720's were some time ago, as were the 1800's... it is now 2012, part of the 21st century.

What is the evangelical fascination with the past?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:34AM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

I joke with hubby about his slave-owning g-g-grandparents.

They had a British Home Child as a "domestic servant".

The irony... an Irish family with a little British slave child. Sort of a symbolic payback.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:45AM
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pnbrown

Ink, I guess being early to abolish cancels being earlier to start the devilish trade? So it's even, possibly, between Britain and the USA.

The rest of you happy-go-lucky crowd, sure, why feel like one benefits from the wrongs of the past or even today? I don't suppose any of you are responsible for exploitation of workers/slaves anywhere anytime, are ya? Not at all, the fact that standards of living for the descendants of those who were once and/or still in power are significantly higher than national or global averages is entirely due to the honest sweat and sacrifice of the present generation only.

Let's remember that when getting a check from the previous generation's estate settlement.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:12PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

Let's see. My native ancestors are telling me that you owe me for the land being lived on. Be sure to send me your rent cheque every month.

And my Acadian ancestors tell me that land they were kicked off of in Eastern Canada is rightfully mine, so the people who own it now have to give it back to me.

Ironic, isn't it, that the black slaves escaping to Canada were given the very land that my French ancestors were expelled from. I want reparations from black people.

And on behalf of my Loyalist ancestors, I want reparations for the land the American government confiscated and stole when my ancestors supported the crown.

And I want reparations from the French government for the horrendous working conditions of my earliest European ancestors, all in the name french colonization.

You people owe me bigtime.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:25PM
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pnbrown

Sorry, I failed to post the link correctly in the OP.

Here is a link that might be useful: has nothing to do with anything now

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:26PM
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pnbrown

HG, in some cases people with sufficient NA ancestry are being compensated. Perhaps you are one of them?

The argument that every twist and turn of historical trends are all equal and have equal effects on the present is specious and simply doesn't wash. I think you know that.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:32PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

Still sorting out WWII... that's sooooo last century too... right?

Hangary Reparations to Jewish Groups

"Perpetuities" interesting word.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:33PM
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jodik_gw

I'm adopted... I only have a certain amount of clues. So, I could be half of each side... would that really matter in today's world? Should I take the dollar I do have out of my left pocket and give to my right pocket? Would that make anyone feel better?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:38PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

The argument that every twist and turn of historical trends are all equal and have equal effects on the present is specious and simply doesn't wash. I think you know that.

I fail to see how that is so. Choosing one ancient wrong over another ancient wrong seems so... opportunistic to me.

How far back do we get to go? As far back as the vikings who pillaged and plundered and murdered their way through Europe? Too far back?

We seem to be able to go as far back as Europeans landing in North America, so 500-600 years is OK.

The point is that any wrongs done to my ancestors several hundred years ago is NOT the situation today. To use it as an excuse is faux victimhood at it's lowest.

You want to be outraged, just look at what is happening today, the abuses of today. Because claiming victimhood because some ancestor of mine was worked to death by the governor of some french settlement back in the 1600's is just silly.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:45PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

My family arrived here long past the days of slavery. However, we have all benefited from being of European ancestry - aka the correct color to escape the most obvious forms of discrimination (part of which was due to being in California and not in eastern urban concentrations of southern Europeans) and institutionalized racism.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:49PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

I'm adopted... I only have a certain amount of clues. So, I could be half of each side...

Should I take the dollar I do have out of my left pocket and give to my right pocket?

I suppose that depends. Were the white parts of you landholders who owned slaves? Or were they from more humble backgrounds?

If they were dirt poor farmers, it's possible they don't owe reparations. You may have to find someone else to pay you. Dawkins' estate perhaps? They might have been responsible.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:50PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

The reality is that there are debts you can't repay. For the things you can you should make a good faith effort to do so.

Agriculture, free labor and the slave trading industry itself were a large part of the economic engine the United States was founded upon. Put plainly, it's unlikely the United States would be where we are today if not for slavery. As an extension of that thought we still benefit from the free labor that the slave trade provided up until this day.

What I think is most unfortunate about this fact is that we forget or deny it. How do I know? Look at how the undocumented are being exploited today as cheap agricultural labor. Maybe something like "Perpetuities" would just help to remind us?.... or maybe we at least need to have a National Slave Memorial that actually gets built.... People have a hard time acknowledging past mistakes or injustices and the long term ramifications of same.... don't need to wallow in it but at least admit and come to terms with our history.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:03PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

don't need to wallow in it but at least admit and come to terms with our history.

I can agree with that need, but I will say that I don't think America has any problems admitting or coming to terms with history, at least on the subject of slavery or native issues. You have no problem with that, so admitting or facing is NOT an issue. In fact, I would say this continual self-flagellation over the issue IS wallowing.

It's there, it happened, but it's the same thing that has happened all over the world since the beginning of time. America is in no way unique in the conquest of land, exploitation of others or in terms of slavery. In fact, white people are neither unique in that respect. It's only a blip in the exploitation of others in the history of humankind.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:16PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

HG, did you read my 3rd paragraph? Why is there no National Slave Memorial? See H.R. 196 of the 108th congress. Why are seasonal ag workers and temporary foreign workers allowed to be exploited? We forget. We deny.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:27PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

I will say that I don't think America has any problems admitting or coming to terms with history, at least on the subject of slavery or native issues.

I don't entirely agree. There may be recognition, but then denial of the results due to slavery and our policy towards Native Americans. And the idea of "American Exceptionalism" excludes recognition of negatives in U.S. history.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:39PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

Instead of making two separate posts, I'll just address both kwoods and nancy.

I honestly don't see-- and this is from my perspective-- that America is denying either the negatives of US history or the results. From my POV, America has more recognition of it's negatives, it's exploitation, than probably any other country in recent history. That's why I say it's to the point of self flegellation.

This recognition is to the point where it pervades so many different facets of American consiousness that maybe you guys don't recognize it anymore.

The results are also recognized, which is why it has become accepted doctrine that slavery is responsible for problems present in the black communities today. Again, IMO, it has actually been taken to a point further than the truth but that's an issue for a different thread. The thing is, Americans recognize, accept and are resigned to the long term results of black slavery and indian policies. That is what I see.

Kwoods, if there were a National Slave Memorial, that would not mean that America has suddenly accepted it's negative slavery past. A memorial is a nice gesture, but it doesn't actually mean anything. I guess the point I am trying to make is that Americans today have accepted the negatives of it's past, national memorial or not, but at what point does the past become the past?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:15PM
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nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10

The results are also recognized, which is why it has become accepted doctrine that slavery is responsible for problems present in the black communities today.

I don't believe that this is true; there's too much denying that anything but personal responsibility is affecting black communities today. I believe that this denial from certain segments of our political class (and the followers) is why there are so few Republican African Americans.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:20PM
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pnbrown

The knee-jerk "what's it got to do with me or my ancestors" is the most common response to this subject, IME. So "we" are hardly wallowing in it.

For those that are directly connected, there is the typical Dawkins' disingeneous attempt to make nothing of the fact that a direct relatively recent ancestor owned thousands of humans and controlled obscene amounts of land and capital. Many say that stuff and believe it, though Dawkins is I would think far too intelligent not to realize the long tendrils of such realities.

Kwoods mention of the how some Holocaust reparations have been handled is IMO the way to go over here as well. Specific descendants can and will bring suit against specific defendants; where evidence is sufficient there will be payouts.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:23PM
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kwoods(Cold z7 Long Is)

"Kwoods, if there were a National Slave Memorial, that would not mean that America has suddenly accepted it's negative slavery past."

Absolutely agree, but... it would be a recognition.

Not building the monument sends a very different, and I think a very clear message.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:48PM
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Lady_Brat

""""""""""""The point is that any wrongs done to my ancestors several hundred years ago is NOT the situation today. To use it as an excuse is faux victimhood at it's lowest. "
" In fact, I would say this continual self-flagellation over the issue IS wallowing. It's there, it happened, but it's the same thing that has happened all over the world since the beginning of time. America is in no way unique in the conquest of land, exploitation of others or in terms of slavery. In fact, white people are neither unique in that respect. It's only a blip in the exploitation of others in the history of humankind. "

Thank you HG. Well thought out, very well communicated and very true. History tells of many evils committed against mankind not by just one particular race but the entire human race. I don't feel that we owe reparation for the sins of our forefathers, only to learn from their errors and endeavor not to repeat them.

""""""""""" And the idea of "American Exceptionalism" excludes recognition of negatives in U.S. history. "

Well nancy other than the fact that from reading your posts you appear to have nothing good to say about the US, how did you come up with that idea. It's "American Exceptionalism" not "American Perfectionism". To be exceptional you don't have to be perfect, without spot or blemish........just exceptional and I don't think anyone can deny that the US has been pretty "exceptional" right from it's beginning. Yes, as great as this country is, it has had and still has it's problems but the desirable outweighs the undesirable by any measure. If people like you would accept that this is a great nation in spite of it's difficulties and work on solving the problems we do have instead of constantly harping on the "negatives" and dwelling on past problems we could become an even greater nation.

Exceptionalism:
1. the condition of being exceptional; uniqueness.

2. the study of the unique and exceptional.

3. a theory that a nation, region, or political system is exceptional and does not conform to the

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:58PM
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inkognito

Let's not forget what this thread is about. Dawkins is an outspoken atheist so has many enemies amongst the religious he is also an evolutionary biologist and is not short of detractors in that field either. His beliefs on many topic from racism to genetics are published and broadcast so this accusation is obviously 'gotcha' journalism.

Until comparatively recently slavery was not seen as the evil we now view it, which doesn't excuse it but does put it into perspective. Slavery made many people and some whole countries very rich while at the same time creating misery for others. This was carried out with the acceptance and support of most western governments. While it may suit some to only look ahead and not back at the unprecedented inequality in human lives it is not the best way. It is not the best way especially when the two sides of this uneasy arrangement are instantly recognizable and the attitude that justified slavery, regarding the non human nature of Negroes, still exists.

Singling out the great great great great great grandson of a slave owner too easily lets us all off the hook.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 3:32PM
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lionheart_gw

What HG and Ink said.

And what's this competition about who ended slavery when? There are no special smug points for abolishing slavery 30 years before another county. You had slavery. Admit it. How does it make you feel better that you ended it sooner than another country?

"If you want to get into the ridiculous 'who has a better record on slavery' thing remember that the abolition of slavery was driven by Great Britain and one of the last countries to give it up was the US. (South, sorry Mrs)."

Well, not exactly.

* Although India abolished slavery in 1861, it appeared to survive until 1873, according to newspaper reports.
* In 1869, Portugal was the last European country to abolish slave trafficking, although I think they technically abolished the owning of slaves a few years prior.
* Cuba didn't end slavery until 1886.
* Brazil abolished slavery in 1888.
* Korea 1894.
* China in 1910.
* Mauritania, a West African nation where between 10-20% of the population were slaves, didn't abolish slavery until 1981. They make everyone else look good.

There may be more. I didn't look at every possible country.

It wasn't just the US South that was profiting from slavery. People in northeastern states were making lots of money trafficking slaves through Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island to the south, right up until the start of the Civil War.

And of course there were the riots in New York where rioters raided houses and schools, killing black people and singing the praises of Jefferson Davis. Lincoln had to send in the army to stop the rioting.

The plot to assassinate Lincoln was hatched by Confederates living in Canada.

We like to pretend that our crap doesn't stink, but our farts give us away. :-)

The point is that there are no bragging rights for ending something that never should have existed, whether it's before or after some arbitrary point, which implies that it was acceptable until then. It's an abominable part of history, but it existed.

No one here is a slaveholder. Their parents weren't slaveholders, their grandparents weren't slaveholders. Chances are their great grandparents didn't have slaves, although they may have known someone who did. The slaveholders all over the world, with a few exceptions like Mauritania, have long been dead.

"Singling out the great great great great great grandson of a slave owner too easily lets us all off the hook."

Amen.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 7:04PM
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pnbrown

Ink, I don't disagree with you in spirit, however, I will say again the Dawkins is way too sharp and quick to jump on others to be allowed off the hook on this one.

He knows quite well what that great wealth did for the generations preceding him and the trickle-down effect that it has.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 7:08PM
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jodik_gw

What I'm saying is... we should try to be repairing the things we can NOW for our FUTURE, and stop worrying about a past that we can't go back to.

There is still slave trade going on... not quite the same thing, but still slave trade... as in kidnappings, sex slaves, slave labor, etc... these things, we can stop now, when it matters. We can make a difference now... for a better tomorrow.

The whole Dawkins thing is a just the outrage du jour... wonder what's on tomorrow's menu?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 8:38PM
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