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Saturday, April 6, 2024

Antivaxxers, Conspiracy Theories, Christian Nationalists -- and 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.

UnfortunatelyRepublican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers.   Even before COVID, they were fighting vaccine mandates and other public health measures. 

The anti-vax movement has a great deal of overlap with MAGAQAnon, and old-school conspiracy theory.  T

A prominent champion is the infamous RFK,Jr. He has repeatedly compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.  Rolling Stone and Salon retracted an RFK article linking vaccines to autismhe John Birch Society plugged one of his books. 

 David Corn and Dan Friedman at Mother Jones:

On March 23, Steve and Tracy Slepcevic hosted a fundraiser for independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the San Diego area. Tickets started at $575, and those who paid $2,750 were to be treated to a “private sunset reception” before RFK Jr. would chat with the assembled and pose for photos. It was hardly surprising that the Slepcevics were supporting Kennedy, given that Tracy is a long-time anti-vaxxer prominent within the autism community. But the personal politics of the Slepcevics illuminate the weird currents propelling Kennedy’s White House bid, for the pair have hobnobbed with QAnoners, Christian nationalists, election deniers, and other pro-Trump extremists. Steve, who has a checkered past as a businessmen that includes an arrest (but not a conviction) for allegedly defrauding victims of Hurricane Katrina, was in the crowd of Trump devotees outside the Capitol on January 6.

Last year, Tracy Slepcevic published a book called Warrior Mom about her years raising a son with autism that she blames on routine childhood vaccines. The book was endorsed by Kennedy and championed by Michael Flynn, the disgraced former national security adviser for President Donald Trump who has become a QAnon-friendly Christian nationalist and a leader within the far-right patriots movement. The Kennedy campaign sells signed copies of the book for $150 a pop. Tracy has been an ally of Children’s Health Defense, the anti-vax nonprofit that Kennedy ran before entering the 2024 contest. In November, she spoke at CHD’s annual conference in Savannah, Georgia, where she hawked her book and palled around with Kennedy, a longtime peddler of Covid and vaccine misinformation. On Facebook, she declared, “Had a great time at the CHD conference in Savannah with some amazing people…I’m so blessed to be on this journey with each and every one of them.” In promoting her book and activism, she has shared platforms with Stew Peters, a far-right anti-vaxxer who has been tied to QAnon advocacy and has spread (according to the ADL) antisemitic tropes, and with Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced scientist who wrote a discredited paper linking autism to vaccines.