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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

RFK and the Kennedy Name

 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.

He is now running for president as an independent.  Why is anybody paying attention?

One clue: today is the 60th anniversary of the JFK assassination. According to Gallup, 90 percent of Americans approve of the job he did (even if few can actually name anything that he accomplished).  

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the political scion with the famous last name who's running as an independent for president, is also infamous for his stances against vaccines.

Vaccines are safe and effective and have been credited with stopping the spread of diseases like measles, mumps and rubella, polio and global pandemics. Despite the solid evidence, people like RFK Jr. — with no expertise and who refuse to listen to experts — have spread disinformation about them, playing on false conspiracy theories.

He's repeatedly falsely claimed that vaccines are not "safe and effective" and he even said, among other things, "I see somebody on a hiking trail carrying a little baby and I say to him, better not get them vaccinated."

And yet, he claimed at a congressional hearing in July: "I have never been anti-vax. I have never told the public to avoid vaccination."  [See video of his contradictory statements.[

That's an obvious lie. But it might indicate Kennedy — who is the son of Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy — knows that an anti-vaccine stance is not politically popular outside the segment that deeply, and falsely, disbelieves in their effectiveness.

Despite that, he's made similar statements recently on the campaign trail before friendly crowds.