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Tuesday, June 20, 2023

More RFK Jr.

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrongA leading anti-vaxxer is presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  He has repeatedly compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.  Rolling Stone and Salon retracted an RFK article linking vaccines to autism.


From the article:
And Del Bigtree, founder of the second-best-funded anti-vaccine nonprofit (after Kennedy’s) who acts as Kennedy’s hype man at fundraisers, only winked at the reason for his endorsement, tweeting, “I just donated $100. If you know why I did it then join me.”

There’s good reason to be subtle. Kennedy’s views on vaccines put him at odds with most Americans, particularly Democrats. He aligns more with a growing wing of vaccine-skeptic Republicans; research and polling consistently shows modern-day conservatives are more susceptible to conspiracy theories and hold more conspiratorial worldviews generally.

Kennedy’s supporters have gotten the message. In a Facebook group where more than 4,000 people have gathered to organize events like Kennedy-branded Fourth of July parades, members have been workshopping possible appositives for their candidate, settling most recently on “Vaccine Safety Advocate.” But they’d really prefer to avoid the issue, as one poster put it, “by sticking to Kennedy’s campaign points as much as possible.”

People who have followed Kennedy for years aren’t convinced by the spin, and privately, are blunt about the harm they fear could come from a Kennedy administration. A university researcher who studies anti-vaccine misinformation said over text, “#GAMA: Give America Measles Again.” One advocate who leads a local vaccine education nonprofit asked me gravely, “How much damage could he actually, really do here?”