RFK. Jr’s bigotry has no place in the Democratic Party—nor does RFK Jr.
It's time for Dems to denounce him loudly!
Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. rightfully found himself engulfed in a media firestorm Saturday after the New York Post reported on Kennedy’s comments from earlier last week where he irresponsibly and baselessly claimed that Covid was engineered to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people.
Kennedy—while speaking at an event in New York City and in remarks captured on video--told those attending, “Covid-19. There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. Covid-19 attacks certain races disproportionately.” Then the son of famed Democrat Robert F. Kennedy added, “Covid-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”
This is very dangerous rhetoric because it suggests that the Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews—which are Jews of European descent—were immune because they were somehow behind the engineering of the virus. A study that Kennedy cited in defense of his claim does not back up his outrageous comments as the NY Times reported, noting his theory was “roundly dismissed by scientists.”
(Kennedy denies he was being bigoted as well as bizarrely claiming that the event organized by a NY Post reporter was “off the record.” And in a barrage of followup tweets Sunday, Kennedy condemned what he called the “MSM attack dogs” – which is a ploy from the right wing playbook of attacking the “mainstream media.”)
The condemnation of Kennedy’s comments by Jewish groups, Asian American organizations and—very importantly—by many Democratic leaders was swift. The American Jewish Committee told CNN, by way of a statement Saturday, that Kennedy’s “assertion that Covid was genetically engineered to spare Jewish and Chinese people is deeply offensive and incredibly dangerous.” The organization added, “Every aspect of his comments reflects some of the most abhorrent antisemitic conspiracy theories throughout history and contributes to today’s dangerous rise of antisemitism.”
Jane Shim, the director of the Stop Asian Hate Project, slammed Kennedy’s words to The Washington Post as being “irresponsible” and hateful comments.” Shim likened RFK, Jr’s comments to the “dangerous rhetoric” of Donald Trump, who has repeatedly referred to covid-19 as “the China virus.”
And Democratic leaders echoed those denunciations. The chair of the Democratic National Committee Jamie Harrison slammed Kennedy’s remarks Saturday evening, tweeting, “These are deeply troubling comments and I want to make clear that they do not represent the views of the Democratic Party.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif) tweeted in response, “Millions and millions of people died from COVID-19 worldwide, including Americans who were Jewish or of Chinese descent.” He added, “If you still support the wacky, narcissistic, racist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., then that says more about you than it does about him.”
“Hard to imagine a son who has done more to dishonor his father’s name than RFK Jr.,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) tweeted. Other Democrats also joined in publicly denouncing Kennedy, including fellow presidential candidate Marianne Williamson who called the remarks “sinister,” “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Chinese.”
We can expect Democratic officials—when asked by the media to respond to Kennedy’s comments—to likewise fully denounce them. And if he or she doesn’t, they can expect to her other Democrats from officials to the base slamming them.
Anyone can seek a political party’s nomination. But a party is defined for how leaders respond to those in their party spewing bigotry. In the Democratic party there must be zero tolerance for any self-described Democratic candidate who does that.
What a contrast to what we’ve seen from the Republican party in the time of Donald Trump who openly spewed bigotry and hate with little to no push back from most GOP officials. While it’s true some Republicans did condemn some of his most egregious remarks, generally we saw silence from Republicans or the go to: “I didn’t see the tweet.”
For example, last year when Trump had dinner at his Mar-a-Lago residence with Holocaust denying, white supremacist Nick Fuentes—who in the past had threatened violence against Jews and Blacks—along with Ye (formerly Kanye West) who had spewed anti-Semitic remarks—PBS polled 57 Republican lawmakers for a response. GOP Senator Mitt Romney was the most full-throated in condemning Trump stating, “I think it’s been clear that there’s no bottom to the degree to which President Trump will degrade himself and the nation.” A few others like GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy denounced Fuentes but not Trump for dining with him. However, overwhelmingly Republicans choose not to respond.
The silence of most Republican officials to Trump’s dining with bigots—and to his past racist comments—sends a message that hate is at least tolerated, if not welcomed, in the GOP. Today’s Democratic party can never allow that to happen.
Overall, when it comes to RFK, Jr., his views far better align with today’s GOP than the Democratic party--as I wrote about last month. He has peddled dangerous conspiracy theories on everything from gun violence to vaccines, is being publicly praised by Trump allies Steve Bannon and Roger Stone and has made horribly offensive remarks such as that Covid vaccine mandates were somehow worse than The Holocaust, because as Kennedy stated, “Even in Hitler Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.”
And recently Kennedy again repeated his baseless claim that man-made chemicals in the environment could be making children gay or transgender.
Now you understand why his own family members have denounced him.
Kennedy’s baseless conspiracy theories and especially his bigotry do not belong in the Democratic party. In fact, when you look at Kennedy’s views in sum, he doesn’t belong in today’s Democratic party either.
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