Thursday Morning, fresh off controversy after claiming that Covid-19 was “ethnically targeted” towards certain races, presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. testified before The House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
Earlier this week, more than 100 Democrats filed a letter to the Judiciary Committee calling for Kennedy to be excluded from the hearing. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy himself said he disagreed “with everything [Kennedy] said,” but to exclude him would undermine the topic of the meeting itself: censorship.
Even some arch-conservatives were skeptical of how effective it would be to have Kennedy take the witness stand. Fox Contributor Byron York pointed out that RFK Jr.’s presence at a hearing about the “serious” topic of tech censorship would derail the proceedings given he has “a long history of pretty much crackpot statements about vaccines, and other things, he’s a big conspiracy theorist”
And derail it did. The hearing was absolutely dominated by Kennedy’s presence, and the animosity between Republican and Democratic committee members was palpable throughout. In her opening statements, Ranking Committee Member Stacey E. Plaskett laid out some of the various conspiratorial and racist claims leveled by Kennedy over the years. “Hateful, abusive rhetoric does not need to be promoted on the people’s house.”
“Why would the Republican leadership and the committee majority give a hearing and platform to the witnesses today? Specifically to Mr. Kennedy, a man who was recently claimed that Covid-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people, [and that] the people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese. And before that in his film Medical Racism: The New Apartheid, that film stated Covid-19 vaccines do not work for Black children because of their, quote, ‘kick ass kind of immune system, that hyper super-human kind of language.” Plaskett asked.
“He also said even in Hitler’s Germany you could cross the Alps to Switzerland, meaning Jews in Nazi Germany had more freedoms than unvaccinated Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she added.
In his opening remarks to the committee, Kennedy bemoaned what he considered to be undue suppression of his viewpoints. Kennedy rejected the notion that his claims about vaccinations were misinformation and asserted that he was in no way shape or form racist or anti-semitic.
“While I’m under oath —in my entire life I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or anti-semitic,” he declared. “I have spent my life fighting, my professional career fighting for Israel, the protection of Israel. I have a better record on Israel than anybody in this chamber today,” he added.
Kennedy’s career-worth of conspiracies about vaccines loomed heavily over the hearing, particularly his recent comments about race-based targeting.
In one instance, Kennedy directly sparred with Democrats on the committee. “Virtually every statement that you just made about me is inaccurate,” Kennedy said. “I have never been anti-vax. I have never told the public to avoid vaccination,” he declared.
Kennedy touted the fact that he and his children are vaccinated as evidence of his supposed pro-vaccine stance, and insisted that he is but a mere advocate for vaccine safety. When weighed against the claims Kennedy has made about vaccines, the defense falls a little flat.
He has repeatedly insisted that vaccinations can cause autism (they can’t), claimed that vaccine research was responsible for the creation of diseases like HIV, the Spanish Flu, and Lyme disease (they aren’t), recently suggested that some organizations who promote vaccines should be subjected to a “corporate death penalty,” and compared people opposed to receiving vaccines to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.
And that’s just a sampling.
Kennedy compared the criticisms against him and his beliefs to the abusive tactics of Red Scare McCarthyism in the 1940s and ’50s. “I am being censored here… through smears, through misinterpretations…through lies, through association. Which is a tactic we all thought had been discredited with after [the] Andy Mccarthy hearings in the 1950s.”
Alongside Kennedy, the committee interviewed three other witnesses: Emma-Jo Morris, a Politics Editor at the right-wing outlet Breitbart; D. John Sauer, Special Assistant Attorney General to the Louisiana Department of Justice; and Maya Wiley, an attorney and civil rights activist.
During her testimony, Wiley spoke to the racist stereotypes that motivate medical misinformation about Black Americans, including statements made by Kennedy. It “includes all kinds of myth about the ability to disregard both the health needs, health conditions and disparities that exist for Black people and in Black communities. To the detriment not only of the health of people who are Black but also to public health, by not taking good sound positions.”
Plaskett echoed the sentiment. “Even knowing what they know about Kennedy’s hateful, evidence-free rhetoric, and even though they’ve invited any number of witnesses to make their point, [Speaker] McCarthy and Jordan’s affirmatively chose to give this a platform, She said. “They have co-signed on idiotic, bigoted messaging.”
Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/rfk-jr-testimony-house-congress-vaccines-anti-vax-1234792491/