Well, it was only a matter of time.
Sure, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s overperformance in the primary polls against President Joe Biden has been an embarrassment to the Democratic Party at large. However, for the most part, the Kennedy family has avoided talking about the candidacy like Biden avoids talking about the exact number of grandchildren he has.
But that would only last as long as the RFK Jr. campaign stayed out of real controversy, which was inevitable, given who the candidate is; like him or not, Kennedy has been erroneously on the side of all vaccine skepticism over the better part of his career, only to have the good fortune for the 2024 campaign to be the first presidential contest after the incumbent president tried to force Americans to take a vaccine they had good reason to be skeptical of, for a change.
So, after the first major controversy of his campaign — he was caught on video at a media event July 11 repeating a theory that COVID-19 might have been a Chinese bioweapon since a study has alleged the disease disproportionately affects those of Chinese and Ashkenazi Jewish descent — it was perhaps predictable that members of the Kennedy family would come out to denounce their own.
Less predictable would be how they would be put on blast by social media in the wake of their denunciations, with one conservative critic calling the shaming of one’s own family “the mark of totalitarian systems.”
First, RFK Jr.’s comments, first reported by the New York Post: During what the Post’s Jon Levine memorably described as “the question-and-answer portion of raucous booze and fart-filled dinner” in New York City, Kennedy said there was an argument COVID-19 was “ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately.”
“COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese,” he said.
“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,” the Democratic candidate added.
RFK Jr. denied that the statement was anti-Semitic, saying Sunday on Twitter that he never intended to float the idea that “coronavirus was a bioweapon made to kill white and black but spare Jews,” as Levine allegedly asked his press office.
“Of course, saying that would be anti-Semitic,” he said. “But I didn’t say that. Levine is fabricating an opinion, attributing it to me, and trolling for scandal.”
“By cynically leveling anti-Semitism charges, Levine devalues the term at a time when REAL anti-Semitism is rampant,” Kennedy said.
“What’s more, by using a racially-charged term, ‘sparing Jews,’ with its Biblical reference to Exodus, he is inflaming fear, hate, and suspicion.”
Kennedy had previously taken to Twitter on Saturday to cite a 2021 study on COVID-19 as a “proof of concept” that bioweapons could be used to target specific ethnic groups.
That study found, among other things, that “deleterious variants” in ACE2 receptors — where the SARS-CoV-2 virus “latches” onto, so to speak — were highest in “African-American” and “Non-Finnish European … populations,” relatively lower among East/South Asian and “Latino/Admixed American” populations, and lowest among the Amish and Ashkenazi Jewish populations.
The paper was authored by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic and Columbia University and funded by, inter alia, a grant from the National Institutes of Health, so this is hardly a fringe study by any stretch of the imagination.