The White House on Monday condemned anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F Kennedy Jr’s claim that the virus which causes Covid-19 was somehow engineered to target white and Black people while sparing Asians and Jews of Eastern European descent as an example of antisemitism that puts Americans at risk.
During a press event in New York City on 11 July, Mr Kennedy baselessly stated that “there is an argument to be made” that the disease is “ethnically targeted” and claimed that the Sars-CoV-2 virus was “targeted to attack Cucasians and Black people” even as “those who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese”.
Mr Kennedy later falsely claimed that he had made the remarks at an off-the-record event and attacked the New York Post who had reported on his offensive comments, accusing him of trying to “to discredit [him] as a crank — and by association, to discredit revelations of genuine corruption and collusion.”
His comments were widely condemned by numerous Jewish groups including the Anti-Defamation League, which called them “deeply offensive” pointed out that they “feed into sinophobic and antisemitic conspiracy theories”.
Speaking at the White House daily press briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to respond to Mr Kennedy directly, citing his status as a 2024 presidential candidate.
But Ms Jean-Pierre said the anti-vaccine activist’s comments were insensitive to the “countless” American families with empty seats at the dinner table because they’ve lost people to the virus since it began spreading across the globe in March 2020.
Continuing, Ms Jean-Pierre said the claims Mr Kennedy made on a tape which was published by The New York Post were “false” as well as “vile,” and said they “put our fellow Americans in danger”.
“if you think about the racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories that come out of saying those types of things, it’s an attack on our fellow citizens, our fellow Americans and so it is important that we … speak out when we hear those claims made more broadly,” she said.
“This President and this whole administration is going to stand against … those false claims against … Asian Americans, against Jewish Americans,” she said. “We’re going to continue to speak out and we believe … it’s important to protect the dignity of our fellow Americans”.
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