Sunday, 4 March 2012

Redemption and the New Atheists?

In last week's Sunday Telegraph - nominally a respectable British newspaper -  there was a ridiculous and desperate attempt to criticise the character of Richard Dawkins.  Of course he doesn't need any help from me to defend himself.  He is perfectly capable of doing it himself, as in this article in New Statesman.  Indeed he had already commented about the phone call on, so I think we were all expecting something of the sort.

Adam Lusher decided not to attack Dawkins on the basis of anything that he has done or said recently, but surprisingly because of the activities of some of his distant ancestors.

"One of his direct ancestors, Henry Dawkins, amassed such wealth that his family owned 1,013 slaves in Jamaica by the time of his death in 1744."

I had always thought that articles like this would be more at home in one of the other, lesser, Sunday papers than in the Telegraph.  But it seems that even The Telegraph has now stooped to the level of the gutter press.  Even God only intends to visit the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generation, but somehow this journalist feels that he can take this already ridiculous concept and extend it by a few more generations.  In any case, we are probably all descended from both slave owners and slaves.

One amusing comment was made by Michael Marshall of the Merseyside Skeptics, who said this week, in a parody of creationist arguments:

"If Dawkins is descended from slave owners, how come there are still slave owners?"

Very funny!  But there are more serious sides to these arguments too.

Firstly - if Lusher is so interested in slavery, shouldn't he be devoting his time to the plight of slaves in today's world?  Many people say that there are more slaves in the world today than there have been at any other time in history.  These are the people who need their situation to be highlighted in the Sunday newspapers so that the chattering classes have their smug comfort challenged.

Lusher's infantile arguments also open up the opportunity for people to demand some form of reparations from the living for the actions of their forebears, and I find this to be immoral, irrelevant, and frankly, greedy.

Take as an example this quotation, mined from a campaigner, Esther Stanford-Xosei, of Lewisham, south London, the co-vice chairman of the Pan-African Reparations Coalition in Europe, who apparently said:

"There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity."

Actually I think there is indeed a statute of limitations for any crime.  When the 'criminal' dies, the penalty can NOT be paid by anyone else - unless of course their name is Jesus.

1 comment:

krissthesexyatheist said...

Last paragraph is what the cool kids here call..."money."