Antivaxxers are sometimes violent, often abusive, and always wrong. A 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.
“I thought he was heroic, because he was saying the things publicly that other people were too afraid to say,” said Lydia Greene.
Greene, who lives in the Canadian province of Alberta, declined all vaccines for her son after buying into the claims by Kennedy and other anti-vaccine “gurus” that vaccines cause autism. When her son started to show signs of autism, Greene discounted it out of hand.
“I couldn’t even see his autism because in the anti-vax movement, autism is the worst outcome that can happen to a child. And when they talk about their vaccinated autistic kids, it’s often with a tone of resentment and how they talk about how their life is ruined, their marriage is ruined, and it’s just this kid is damaged,” Greene said. “And so when my son was different, I couldn’t see that stuff about him.”
She said she did not recognize his condition until she “came out of the rabbit hole of anti-vax.”
“I realized I had wasted so much valuable time where he should have been in occupational therapy, speech therapy, evidence-based therapy for autism,” Greene said.
Kennedy’s Children’s Health Defense produces articles, newsletters, books, podcasts, even TV shows on its own CHD.TV. Greene said those articles often validate anxious parents’ fears – no matter how irrational – while making them feel like someone powerful is listening.
Today, Greene believes the group exploited her.
“That’s what CHD does,” Greene said. “They find parents when they’re vulnerable. And hack into that.”