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Richard Dawkins calls 'slavery-supporting smear story' surreal

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richard-dawkinsRICHARD DAWKINS has hit back at 'surreal smears' by the Sunday Telegraph in an article which hinted Dawkins might have 'slave-owner genes'.

The evolutionary biologist and prominent atheist was shocked by the piece which claims the scientist faces awkward questions because some of his ancestors were slave owners.

The article stated that Henry Dawkins had amassed more than 1,000 slaves in Jamaica by the time of his death in 1744, and quoted campaigners calling on Dawkins to pay reparations.

But blogging just hours after the Sunday Telegraph hit the news stands Dawkins said: “At the end of a week of successfully rattling cages, I was ready for yet another smear or diversionary tactic of some kind but in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined the surreal form this one was to take.”

Dawkins said a reporter had called him and named a number of his ancestors who he said were slave owners.

He said the journalist suggested Dawkins may have inherited a 'slave supporting' gene from his distant relative.

“'You obviously need a genetics lesson,' I replied," Dawkins wrote on his blog. "Henry Dawkins was my great great great great great grandfather, so approximately one in 128 of my genes are inherited from him (that's the correct figure; in the heat of the moment on the phone, I got it wrong by a couple of powers of two).

“As it happens, my ancestry also boasts an unbroken line of six generations of Anglican clergymen, from the Rev William Smythies (born 1635) to his great great great grandson the Rev Edward Smythies (born 1818). I wonder if [the reporter] thinks I've inherited a gene for piety too.

“I can't help wondering at the quality of journalism which sees a scoop in attacking a man for what his five-greats grandfather did. Is there really nothing more current going on?”

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