RFK Jr. would be the worst possible President Kennedy
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We grew up inspired by the historic words of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” our hopes in his brother Robert F. Kennedy, who repeated George Bernard Shaw’s apt observation: “Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say why not?”
Kennedy’s legacy was one of public service and civic engagement, always seeking the common good.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of a US attorney general and nephew of a president, turned the Kennedy legacy on its head. Beginning in 2003, RFK Jr. gave up his promising career as an environmentalist to embrace the libertarian agenda of anti-vaccine and anti-science activism—an intriguing and dangerous reversal from self-sacrifice to self-interest.
The triggering element was literally mercury. In 1998, British doctor Andrew Wakefield published an article in the lancet claims that thimerosal, a mercury preservative found in the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism. The lancet later retracted the article, its editor calling his statements “absolutely false,” while the British Medical Journal called Wakefield’s article “fraudulent”. British authorities revoked Wakefield’s medical license. However, distraught parents of autistic children still hug Wakefield, who now makes a fortune off anti-vaccination propaganda — and so does RFK Jr.
The irony runs deep here. RFK Jr. continues to incite a massive thimerosal conspiracy, even though the CDC does REMOVED Removed from most childhood vaccines, including MMR, in 2001. He has also stubbornly ignored an Institute of Medicine vaccine safety review and nine CDC-backed studies that showed no link between thimerosal and autism. Unfortunately, these days it’s not hard to sell the idea that the CDC and the rest of the public health community are embroiled in all manner of deception.
This week, with the blessing of no less than agent provocateur Steve Bannon, RFK Jr. filed papers with the Federal Elections Commission declaring his intention to oppose President Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination, and apparently plans to continue his formal candidacy in Boston to announce April 19thth.
When four years ago two of RFK Jr.’s siblings (Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and former Rep. Joseph P, Kennedy II) joined niece and health care worker Maeve Kennedy McKean to publicize a sincere request to him, his unfounded Abandoning attacks on public health, many naively thought he would dig deep to discover his roots. Instead, RFK Jr. has doubled in size, built up the war chest of his anti-vax propaganda organization Children’s Health Defense to eight figures, a vicious rabble-rousing against Dr. Anthony Fauci publishes and joins the likes of Roger Stone at Reawaken America events.
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Facebook and Instagram removed Children’s Health Defense’s account and named the organization one of the “Disinformation Dozen,” referring to the top 12 super spreaders of COVID-19 misinformation.
RFK Jr. stood at an anti-vaccination rally at the Lincoln Memorial last year and compared the COVID-19 vaccine mandates to Nazi Germany. His wife, actress Cheryl Hines, tweeted: “My husband’s reference to Anne Frank at a DC mandate meeting was reprehensible and insensitive. The atrocities suffered by millions during the Holocaust should never be compared to anyone or anything. His opinion does not reflect my own.”
Earlier this year, RFK Jr. and other anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists joined forces in a bizarre lawsuit blaming them Washington Post, BBC, Associated Press and Reuters for violating 19th-century antitrust laws by refusing to credit fake COVID-19 conspiracy theories and anti-vaccine misinformation. Here’s a man who would use his good name, the nation’s political system, and the courts to undermine vaccines, perhaps the greatest achievement of science of all time.
“RFK Jr. would never have received the public attention and opportunity to raise so much money for disinformation campaigns if it weren’t for the Kennedy name.”
This is a dizzying moment for the Kennedy legacy. It is also a dangerous moment for the nation.
Consider these worrying statistics. According to the CDC, coverage with two doses of MMR vaccine fell during the pandemic, equivalent to 250,000 children unprotected from deadly diseases. Vaccination against polio, chickenpox, diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular whooping cough also declined.
Unsurprisingly, feral polio was found in a religious community in New York City for the first time in a generation. Regarding COVID-19, researchers estimate that there have been 318,000 vaccine-preventable deaths because not even the primary series was received. Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines is strongly linked to a decline in vaccination intent.
Even a well-known COVID denier, Donald Trump, failed to get behind RFK Jr., initially appointing him to head a vaccine safety panel but then resigning. And now Kennedy wants to use the platform of a presidential candidacy to bolster his anti-scientific agenda. RFK Jr. would never have received the public attention and opportunity to raise so much money for disinformation campaigns if it weren’t for the Kennedy name. It’s obvious his Democratic presidential bid won’t gain traction, but it’s already garnered a staggering amount of ink, and social media is saturated with his destructive messages about vaccines.
RFK Jr.’s obsession with casting doubt on the simply overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccines save lives is contrary to the common good. And it’s the opposite of the community spirit that Jack and Bobby Kennedy wanted for America.
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