The sister and nephew of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Monday disavowed a conspiracy theory floated by the political scion last week suggesting that COVID-19 may have been genetically engineered to spare Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people.
“I strongly condemn my brother’s deplorable and untruthful remarks last week about Covid being engineered for ethnic targeting,” Kerry Kennedy, the president of the nonprofit Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, said in a statement.
“His statements do not represent what I believe or what Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights stand for, with our 50+ year track record of protecting rights and standing against racism and all forms of discrimination,” the 63-year-old daughter of the late US attorney general and New York senator added.
Kennedy Jr., 69, made the remarks during the question-and-answer portion of a dinner held the evening of July 11 at Tony’s Di Napoli on East 63rd Street.
“COVID-19. There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” Kennedy Jr. said. “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”
“We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not, but there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact,” he hedged.
RFK Jr.’s nephew, former Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) also repudiated his uncle’s statements on Monday.
“My uncle’s comments were hurtful and wrong,” Kennedy III, now the special US envoy for Northern Ireland, wrote on Twitter. “I unequivocally condemn what he said.”
Both the Department of Energy and the FBI have assessed that COVID-19 escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China — but there is no evidence it was designed to spare certain religious groups or ethnicities.
Meanwhile, a congressional watchdog group called on Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) to cancel Kennedy Jr.’s invitation to testify before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government later this week, deriding the presidential candidate as a “madman.”
“Chairman Jordan must immediately disinvite Kennedy from next week’s hearing. In fact, we’re frankly shocked that in the time it’s taken to write and send this statement, Jordan apparently still plans to let Kennedy testify in the halls of Congress,” wrote Kyle Herrig, the executive director of the Congressional Integrity Project, in a letter to Jordan.
“By inviting this madman, Jordan is giving a platform to dangerous and racist conspiracy theories targeting Chinese and Jewish people. It’s hateful. It’s despicable. And it has no place in Congress,” Herrig added.
The Ohio Republican told Politico that he disagrees with RFK Jr.’s comments, but will not be rescinding his invitation to testify on Thursday about the federal government’s role in censoring free speech.
Liora Rez, the executive director of StopAntisemitism, suggested that there is little doubt that Kennedy Jr. is an antisemite.
“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. can no longer credibly defend himself against accusations of antisemitism. His recent comments regarding the COVID vaccine weren’t taken out of context – he repeated them in a 2020 meeting with infamous antisemite Louis Farrakhan, where he said the vaccine had been ‘genetically modified to attack black and Latino boys,’” Rez told The Post Monday.
“Kennedy defended Roger Waters’s Nazi-inspired Berlin concert, lauding Waters as a ‘global hero’ and exhorting him to ‘keep speaking truth to power.’ He also equated COVID controls with the Nazi policies that forced Anne Frank’s family into hiding for years. Nor can these positions be attributed to ignorance; Kennedy’s ‘apology’ tried to distance himself from the specific antisemitic tropes his comments evoked. As antisemitic incidents continue to rise, we cannot tolerate antisemitism on the part of our elected officials,” she added.
Some polls have shown Kennedy Jr. garnering 20% support among Democratic primary voters.
“I do not believe and never implied that the ethnic effect was deliberately engineered,” the candidate wrote in a tweet on Saturday, attempting to clarify his recorded remarks.