ALI SVENSON (Associated Press)
NEW YORK (FloridaToday.news) — A group of Democratic watchdogs called on a U.S. House of Representatives committee to withdraw an invitation to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after the Democratic presidential nominee was caught on video, falsely suggesting COVID-19 could be ” ethnically oriented” to spare Ashkenazim. Jews and Chinese.
Kyle Herrig, executive director of the Congressional Integrity Project, sent a letter to Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordan, chairman of the federal government’s House Subcommittee on Militaryization, asking him to cancel Kennedy’s invitation to a hearing scheduled for Thursday after the candidate made comments at a dinner in New York. York last week sparked widespread accusations of anti-Semitism and racism.
Jordan’s spokesman said he plans to continue the hearing on Thursday, despite disagreeing with Kennedy’s comments.
In video footage first released by The New York Post, Kennedy said “there is an argument” that COVID-19 “targets ethnicity” and that it “attacks certain races disproportionately.”
“COVID-19 is designed to attack Caucasians and Blacks. The people who are most protected are the Ashkenazi Jews and the Chinese,” he added. “We don’t know if it was deliberately aimed at it or not, but there are documents that show a racial or ethnic difference in the impact of this.”
After the video was made public, Kennedy tweeted that his words were misrepresented and denied that it was ever suggested that COVID-19 was deliberately created to spare the Jewish people. He claimed without any evidence that biological weapons were being developed against certain ethnic groups and called for the Post’s article to be retracted.
Researchers and physicians have spoken out against this claim, including Michael Mina, a physician and immunologist.
“Apart from the absurdity, the biological know-how simply does not exist to create a virus that only targets certain ethnic groups,” Mina tweeted.
Democrats and anti-hate groups were quick to condemn comments by Kennedy, who comes from one of the country’s most prominent political families as the son of former Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.
“These are very disturbing comments and I want to be clear that they do not reflect the views of the Democratic Party,” Jamie Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a tweet Saturday.
“Last week RFK Jr. made objectionable anti-Semitic and anti-Asian comments aimed at perpetuating harmful and debunking racist stereotypes,” Rep. Susan DelBen, chair of the Congressional Democratic Campaign Committee, said Sunday. “Such dangerous racism and hatred has no place in America, it demonstrates its unfitness for public service and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
Asked about the video on Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Kennedy’s claims were false and “vile” and that “they put our countrymen in danger.”
The Anti-Defamation League also responded to the comments with a statement saying that Kennedy’s allegation is “deeply offensive and fuels the Sinophobic and anti-Semitic COVID-19 conspiracy theories that we have seen develop over the past three years.”
And another hate fighter, Stop Antisemitism, tweeted: “We have no words for this man’s insanity.”
On Monday, Kerry Kennedy issued a statement saying, “I strongly condemn my brother’s deplorable and false remarks last week that Covid was created for ethnic discrimination,” adding that the remarks do not reflect “what I believe or into what Robert F. Kennedy, man.” Rights mean.” She is the president of a human rights organization.
Kennedy is set to testify before a GOP-led House subcommittee during Thursday’s hearing to examine “the federal government’s role in censoring Americans.”
He has long spoken out against social media and the government, accusing them of conspiring to censor his speech during the COVID-19 pandemic when he was suspended from multiple platforms for spreading misinformation about vaccines.
Herrig’s letter to Jordan, first reported by Politico, called Kennedy “a total lunatic whose views and conspiracy theories would be completely ignored were it not for his last name.”
He asked the chairman to cancel the candidate’s invitation to Thursday’s hearing because of “video evidence of his horrendous anti-Semitic and xenophobic views that are just beyond the limit.”
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy on Monday abruptly dropped the idea of withdrawing a presidential candidate from testifying before Congress.
“I don’t agree with everything he said,” McCarthy said. “The hearing we have this week is about censorship. I don’t think censoring someone is actually the answer here. I think if you’re going to censor in America, your first censor action will probably play a role in some of the problems we have.”
Kennedy has a history of comparing vaccines, widely believed to have saved millions of lives, to Nazi Germany’s Holocaust genocide, comments for which he has sometimes apologized.
His first apology for the comparison came in 2015, after he used the word “holocaust” to describe children he believed were affected by vaccines.
But he continued to make such remarks, intensifying during the COVID-19 pandemic. The AP investigation details how Kennedy frequently invoked the Nazi specter and the Holocaust in his work to sow doubt about vaccines and campaign against public health efforts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, such as requiring masks or mandatory vaccines.
In December 2021, he released a video showing infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci with a mustache resembling Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. In a speech before the Ron Paul Institute in October 2021, he indirectly compared the public health measures taken by governments around the world to Nazi propaganda designed to intimidate people into giving up critical thinking.
In January 2022, at a Washington rally organized by his anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense, Kennedy complained that people’s rights were being violated by public health measures that were put in place to reduce the number of people getting sick and killed by COVID-19.
“Even in Nazi Germany it was possible to cross the Alps to Switzerland. You could hide in the attic like Anne Frank did,” he said.
The comment was condemned by the head of the Anti-Defamation League as “grossly inaccurate, deeply offensive and deeply disturbing”. Yad Vashem of the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem said it “denigrates the memory of its victims and survivors” as well as others.
Initially sticking to his remarks, Kennedy eventually apologized, tweeting, “I apologize for mentioning Anne Frank, especially to families who have been affected by the horrors of the Holocaust.”
Then, days after he launched his presidential campaign this April, he tweeted that “an onslaught of relentless media outrage has finally forced me to apologize for a statement I never made to protect my family.”
Associated Press contributors Farnoush Amiri and Chris Megerian in Washington DC and Michelle R. Smith in Providence, RI contributed to this report.
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