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Tuesday, September 12, 2023

The Two Faces of 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.

In large public forums like Congress, Mr. Kennedy, 69, has moderated his extreme views, while continuing to advocate them in other settings. At campaign stops in Iowa, Vermont and Virginia this summer, he spoke about the environment, foreign policy and the war in Ukraine, according to The Times’s review. He did not mention vaccines and limited his comments on Covid to criticism of pandemic lockdowns.

Yet during that same period, Mr. Kennedy appeared on more than two dozen podcasts hosted by personalities popular with the right wing, such as Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan, as well as in online meetings and video streams where he brought up a variety of fringe ideas. At times, he made unfounded claims about vaccines and questioned whether chemicals in the water supply were causing “sexual dysphoria” among children in the United States.

In June, he told Mr. Peterson, a psychologist and an author, that chemicals in the water supply could turn children transgender. That same month, Mr. Kennedy appeared on Mr. Rogan’s podcast and presented false or unfounded claims, including that aluminum in vaccines causes autism and that Wi-Fi causes chronic illness.