RFK Jr. Keeps Pushing Bigoted Covid Conspiracy

Maybe it’s the way his mind works — or maybe it’s the brain worms — but presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a moth to the flame of conspiracy theories. Here’s another one he just can’t seem to quit: the notion that Covid-19 was targeted to spare the Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews its most damaging effects.

Kennedy — whose uncle was a champion of the science that took America to the moon — first uncorked the moonbat notion last summer at a dinner party. In comments that were caught on video and published by the New York Post, Kennedy said of Covid-19: “There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted.” He further asserted  that “Covid-19 is targeted to attack caucasians and Black people,” and that “the people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

Kennedy’s conspiratorial notions were soon widely blasted, including in The New York Times, which ran the unvarnished news headline: “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Airs Bigoted New Covid Conspiracy Theory About Jews and Chinese.” As the controversy swelled, Kennedy posted on X that he was being unfairly maligned: “I have never, ever suggested that the Covid-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews.” He nonetheless added that Covid-19 serves as a “proof of concept for ethnically targeted bioweapons.” Despite having voiced the “argument” that the virus was “ethnically targeted,” Kennedy wrote that he “never implied that the ethnic effect was deliberately engineered.”

Fast forward to the present and Kennedy is again misconstruing science around the deadly virus. A TV station in Maine aired an interview last week that characterized Kennedy as “doubling down” on his original conspiratorial sentiment, showing a clip of Kennedy insisting: “This is a scientific study. It’s not a racist statement. It’s just the truth.”

That news segment, with News Center Maine reporter Donovan Lynch, is quite condensed. Rolling Stone has reviewed unedited video of the exchange, in which Kennedy appears combative and unrepentant. Lynch presented Kennedy with his previous remarks and asked, “Do you still believe in what you said?” He also pressed Kennedy about trafficking in an antisemitic trope.

At first Kennedy dodged and weaved: “The irony is that at the same time I’m being called antisemitic — which, of course, is a joke — I’m also being called a Zionist. So somebody has got to make up their mind.”

Kennedy then insisted: “All I was doing was quoting an NIH [National Institutes of Health] funded paper that anybody can look up … that was funded by the United States government … that showed that certain races were more susceptible.” Kennedy elaborated: “The races that it was least compatible with were people from Finland. The second most was Ashkenazi Jews. The third most was Chinese nationals. It was most compatible with Blacks, with people from Africa, and with Caucasians.” Kennedy added as a caveat: “There are ethnically targeted bio-weapons. I never said that Covid was one of those.”

The science is never really the point with Kennedy, who routinely misconstrues research studies to support dark, preconceived notions. But the paper he cites makes no reference to the genetic targeting of Covid-19. It observes that “potentially deleterious variants” of a gene called ACE2 appear to make certain populations more susceptible to the virus.

Such variants, it is true, are found disproportionately in Africans and African Americans as well as in “Non-Finnish European” populations. However the study does not refer to “Chinese nationals” at all. It notes that a wide grouping of Latinos, East Asians, and South Asians are less likely to carry the susceptible genetic variants. (Contra Kennedy, the Finns are also in this grouping.) Finally, it observes that these genetic vulnerabilities are not seen in either Ashkenazi Jews nor in the Amish.

Of course a conspiracy theory centered on resistance to the coronavirus by Ecuadorians and the Pennsylvania Dutch is not nearly so explosive as one featuring Chinese and Jews. Specifically, it would not resonate with widely circulated, bigoted tropes that blame Beijing for unleashing Covid-19 on the world, nor those that falsely cast Jews as leading a globalist cabal served by this “great reset.”

The Kennedy campaign did not respond to specific questions from Rolling Stone about why Kennedy is so stubborn in misrepresenting covid science. Instead, a campaign spokesperson pointed to a second recent clip with the candidate on The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur from June 17.

In that clip Kennedy portrays himself as the victim of mainstream media “spin” designed to “make me seem crazy.” He complained that his original 2023 comments were meant to be off the record, and that he was “never suggesting that people deliberately developed or cultivated covid as a bio-weapon against certain races.”

And yet Kennedy continued to mangle the NIH research, again falsely asserting the primacy of Finnish immunity to the disease. Kennedy concluded with the last resort of the conspiracy theorist, which is that he was only raising questions. “I wasn’t vouching for the paper,” he said. “I was just saying: It’s interesting that this is out there.”

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