By Rachel Mewes

After having listened to Brendan O’Connor’s interview with Richard Dawkins on RTE I was filled with such rage that I feel the need to write about this. Firstly, O’Connor handled Dawkins’ hateful views towards people with Down’s Syndrome with grace and in an incredibly calm and logical manner. He deserves an award. Yet, he should not have had to sit and listen to this kind of prejudice. It just shouldn’t exist anymore. Have we learned no lessons from World War 2? When white men, with eugenicist ideas, spread this kind of hateful propaganda, bad things happen. People die. 

In reference to women who have an antenatal diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome for their baby, Dawkins states that he thinks ‘it would be immoral to bring that child into the world if you had that choice’. How utterly derogatory towards women like me and what a hateful ideal to create about our children. Unfortunately, and terrifyingly, there are people who share these views. I’ve written many times about the prejudice I faced when my daughter was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome antenatally. In Dawkins eyes, the ‘moral’ choice I should have made would have been to kill my unborn baby, go through that horrendous experience and try again for a baby that he deems acceptable, simply because he, or she, would have the same amount of chromosomes as him. 

That’s a little bit more than narcissistic. That’s eugenicist. 

Using your status as a ‘Professor’ to spread your own particular brand of wanting disabled people dead is a dangerous pastime and his comments have caused upset, anger and fear amongst our minority community. People with Down’s Syndrome are a small community. To hear such blatant attempts to influence women to have abortions is frightening and, frankly, shouldn’t be allowed. Is it right that a person of stature, with a large platform should be allowed to spread hate about people with Down’s Syndrome without any repercussions? 

The reason Dawkins believes that it is ‘wise and sensible’ for women to have abortions after a diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome is he thinks that babies with Down’s Syndrome bring ‘suffering’ into the world. This is just his view. There is no evidence to suggest this. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The sheer amount of people who speak out about how their lives have become more enriched, more full of love and happiness since having a child with Down’s Syndrome is proof that this is a lie Dawkins is spreading. 

Dawkins acknowledges there is no evidence to suggest this but says to him ‘it seems plausible’. And that is it in a nutshell. Dawkins’ own eugenicist views. His own hatred of people with disabilities. His own deeply embedded prejudice, against anyone he perceives as inferior to himself, is the ‘evidence’ base he is drawing on. One man’s bigoted views. 

Dawkins says you would ‘increase the amount of happiness in the world by having another child instead.’ Based on what? Again, more misinformation, lies and discriminatory views based on his own Hitler-esque morality. When asked if he knew anyone with Down’s Syndrome, Dawkins replied ‘No’. Spreading this propaganda that women who choose to have a baby with Down’s Syndrome are ‘immoral’ and that their child will increase the ‘suffering’ in the world is hate speech. It is based on the eugenics the Nazi party held dear. 

I am fully aware that during WW2 I would have been forcibly sterilised and my daughter would have been murdered as part of the Aktion T4 program. The Nazis held the same views as Dawkins. Hitler was a ‘typical’ child without Down’s Syndrome, a child that Dawkins claims would be more likely to bring happiness into the world than suffering. Look at all the wars, the human rights abuses, slavery, all caused by people who don’t have Down’s Syndrome. We have direct evidence to show that children born without Down’s Syndrome are more likely to cause suffering in the world that those with it. These are facts. Dawkins spreads hate based on lies he has created out of his own rotten mind. 

Dawkins must investigated and reprimanded for the hate he is peddling. His views are not only prejudiced and offensive, but untrue and dangerous.

To attempt to create hatred towards women who have babies with Down’s Syndrome by calling them ‘immoral’ is reprehensible. 

To peddle lies about people with Down’s Syndrome being the cause of suffering, is engendering hatred towards a minority community. 

Dawkins must be held accountable and prevented from attempting to create further hate in future.

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