In the wake of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. talking about whether COVID-19 had been genetically engineered and had its least effect on “the people who are most immune” — “Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese” — two facts are evident.
First, context is everything. And the underlying context here is that RFK Jr. is challenging the Democrat Party Establishment, which is currently in the care of President Joe Biden. Which is to say, as with most party insurgents (of either party!), a challenge to the status quo as run by the party establishment is decidedly not received well. On the Democratic side, history shows Establishment Democrats going after RFK Jr.’s own father in 1968, when he challenged incumbent Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1980, the Democrat Establishment was furious with RFK Jr.’s uncle Sen. Ted Kennedy for challenging incumbent Democrat President Jimmy Carter for renomination. The lesson? The Democrat Party Establishment — no matter who is in charge — takes a dim view of being challenged and, especially, of the challengers.
RFK Jr. is challenging the Establishment big time — and the Establishment doesn’t like it.
For Americans of either party who love democracy, the RFK Jr. challenge is bracing and deserving of applause, whether he wins or not.
Second, to start with, Kennedy has been discussing a hard-core scientific fact that yes, in fact, some ethnic populations are more vulnerable to a disease than others. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of history and science knows this is accurate.
Here are but a few examples.
This from WebMD:
Why 7 Deadly Diseases Strike Blacks Most
Health care disparities heighten disease differences between African-Americans and white Americans.
Then there was this from U.S. News & World Report:
COVID-19’s Tragic Effect on American Indians: A State-by-State Analysis
This report begins by saying this:
In the United States, people of color have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and Native Americans are no exception. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Indian and Alaska Native people are 5.3 times more likely than white people to be hospitalized due to COVID-19, the largest disparity for any racial or ethnic group.
This next one is also from U.S. News & World Report:
What Makes Ashkenazi Jews More Susceptible to Breast Cancer?
In other words? To suggest as RFK Jr. did that a particular disease — COVID-19, in this case — could have a more disproportionate effect on some ethnic groups than on others — with “Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese” being less susceptible than others — is hardly anti-Semitism. RFK was simply repeating a known and easily demonstrable scientific fact that, depending on the disease, some ethnic groups are affected differently.
But there is more to the disgraceful charge that discussing science makes RFK Jr. “anti-Semitic.”
Hello? Do the Kennedy critics have any idea of the effect anti-Semitism has tragically had directly on the life of RFK Jr. and his siblings and mother?
As someone who is old enough to recall the assassination of his father in 1968, it is apparently the moment to educate RFK Jr.’s critics who are smearing him as anti-Semitic.
What follows is hardly new information. It was everywhere during the day. But here are the basics, in this case from a biography of his father, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, by Larry Tye.
Tye describes the immediate aftermath of the shooting:
The next twenty-five hours were a hellish whirlwind. When the police showed up at the hotel about fifteen minutes after the shooting — Chief Reddin says they weren’t there originally because “we were asked not to be” — they quickly assembled evidence that the gunman was a twenty-four-year-old Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan who hated Israel, hated Kennedy for supporting Israel, and shot the senator a year to the day after the start of the Six-Day War in which Israel routed its Arab enemies.
Decades later, RFK Jr. pushed for a reinvestigation, as reported here in the Times of Israel:
Kennedy’s son and namesake, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, is not convinced the Palestinian-born convict did it, or at least not alone, and wants a fresh investigation of the assassination — an appeal which is supported by only one of his eight surviving siblings.
Which is to say, quite understandably, that RFK Jr.’s adult self wanted to get to the bottom of his father’s murder. His father was, says the historical record in blunt terms, murdered by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian with a seriously on-the-record hatred of Israel — which is to say, Jews. All of which was recorded in the day.
To suggest, as RFK Jr.’s critics are doing, that the son of the man assassinated by a decided Israel-hater is now himself an anti-Semite?
This would be a disgrace. There is zero record out there that RFK Jr. has any time for anti-Semitism. And if he ever needed a reason to understand its poison, he received it on a hot June night in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen in 1968.
The decidedly appalling real fact here is that those inside the Democratic Establishment have put on a vivid display of historical ignorance about anti-Semitism and Robert Kennedy — father and son — that should embarrass all of them.
And they should be ashamed of themselves.