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Saturday, May 11, 2024

Trump and RFK Jr. Compete for Antivaxxers

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.  At first, Trumpists encouraged his political ambitions in hopes that the Kennedy name would draw votes from Biden.  But now it appears that Kennedy may instead be drawing votes from Trump, who also has a long history as an antivaxxer.

 Liz Skalka at Vanity Fair:

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee ranted about Kennedy, who has tried to distance himself from his documented history as a vaccine skeptic, in a four-minute Truth Social video on Thursday, in which he claimed that Kennedy has misrepresented his views on vaccines to curry favor with the right.


“For those of you that want to vote because you think he’s an anti-vaxxer, he’s not really an anti-vaxxer,” Trump continued. “That’s only his political moment. So, RFK, his views on vaccines are fake, as is everything else about his candidacy.”

Kennedy has said he’s never advised the public not to get vaccines and has insisted that he’s not against them. But his profile as a vaccine skeptic exploded during the pandemic, and he has said as recently as July last year that there’s no such thing as a safe and effective vaccine. He’s also promoted antisemitic-tinged, anti-vaccine messaging through his nonprofit, Children’s Defense Fund.