RFK Jr.’s Sister Condemns His Comments That Covid Was ‘Targeted’: ‘Deplorable’

Kerry Kennedy was responding to her brother's claim that "Ashkenazi Jews" are "most immune" to the virus.

RFK Jr.’s Sister Condemns His Comments That Covid Was ‘Targeted’: ‘Deplorable’
Photo:John Lamparski/ Dimitrios Kambouris (Getty Images)

On Monday, human rights activist Kerry Kennedy join the chorus of voices denouncing her brother, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose latest anti-vax controversy relied strongly on antisemitic tropes—as many conspiracy theories often do.

“I STRONGLY condemn my brother’s deplorable and untruthful remarks last week about Covid being engineered for ethnic targeting,” Kerry Kennedy tweeted, in her capacity as director of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization.

The “untruthful remarks” she was referring to came to light on Saturday in a New York Post dispatch from a press event at a Manhattan restaurant.

“There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” the NYP reported RFK Jr. as saying.

He went on:

COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese. We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not but there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact. …
We do know that the Chinese are spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing ethnic bioweapons and we are developing ethnic bioweapons. They’re collecting Russian DNA. They’re collecting Chinese DNA so we can target people by race.

His response to the NYP story on Saturday morning did not help his case either: “I have never, ever suggested that the COVID-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews. … I do not believe and never implied that the ethnic effect was deliberately engineered.” (This, of course, is a classic conspiracy theorist tactic: Assert a bananas idea, and only after the fact, add that there’s no actual basis for it. The couching allows you to deny the claim, but no one’s actually paying attention to it because they’re distracted by the batshit thing you asserted—for example, that covid was targeted to attack two of the largest ethnic groups in the U.S.)

RFK Jr. is an open anti-vaxxer, and his Kennedy pedigree (and all the fame, access, and authority that comes with it) and his nascent presidential campaign make the typical conspiracy theorist claims that he’s “doing his own research” and “just asking questions” much, much more dangerous. This is also not the first time he’s been antisemitic while discussing covid. In January 2022, he said vaccine mandates were worse than “Hitler’s Germany.”

“His statements do not represent what I believe or what Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights stands for, with our 50+ year track record of protecting rights and standing against racism and all forms of discrimination,” Kerry Kennedy added in a follow-up tweet on Monday. The extent of her condemning statement was unclear, however, because the link she tweeted led to a “bad gateway” webpage. The entire RFK Human Rights website appeared to be down for a period Monday afternoon, but was back up by the time of publication.

RFK Jr.’s dangerous and antisemitic conspiracy theories unsurprisingly seemed to find a receptive audience among a very specific constituency: high-profile Republicans.

“Look at these terrible family members. No one was asking ‘how does RFKJ’s sister feel about his latest remarks?’ She just felt the need to kick @RobertKennedyJr when he was down,” Megyn Kelly tweeted.

I quibble with the characterization of “rightfully pointing out conspiracy theories a presidential candidate publicly stated twice” as “down” but potato, po-tah-to. Also, for the record, I am sure a great number of people were wondering how his human rights activist sister would respond to his blatantly racist conspiracy theories.

In Washington, Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pivoted almost hilariously seamlessly from denouncing Democrats who have criticized Israel to saying Republicans won’t disinvite RFK Jr. from a hearing he’s set to testify at on Thursday, saying, “The hearing that we have this week is about censorship. I don’t think censoring somebody is actually the answer here.”

Of course, deciding not to give someone a seat to say whatever bullshit they want in front of Congress—and I guarantee whatever RFK Jr. has to say on Thursday will definitively be bullshit—is not “censorship,” but pesky concepts like “words” and “definitions” seem to be lost on the Republican Party. After all, if McCarthy and his peers actually cared about censorship, they’d do something about the book bans local Republicans are enacting across the country.

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