The most astonishing aspect, and perhaps the only redeeming thing, about Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s spree of conspiracy theories is that it had improbably managed to avoid directly implicating the Jews. But the respite from antisemitism was doomed to end. Conspiracy theorists are drawn gravitationally to the Jews, and Kennedy was only able to defy it for so long before his natural and predetermined course set in.
At a dinner this week, reported by the New York Post, Kennedy floated a theory about the origins of COVID-19 that is even more unhinged than his previous theories:
We’ve put hundreds of millions of dollars into ethnically targeted microbes. The Chinese have done the same thing. In fact, COVID-19, there is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately … because of the genetic structure, genetic differential of different races, of the receptors. 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.
So Kennedy’s theory is that somebody may have designed a virus that spares Chinese people and Jews, using the secret field of “ethnically targeted microbes” that Kennedy is onto, but which never gets discussed in public. (Estimates suggest at least a million Chinese citizens died from COVID-19, but we can assume Kennedy rejects those as fake.) Kennedy adds modestly that he has not yet determined whether this aspect was deliberate or not.
Conspiracy theories targeting China have been floating around since the pandemic began. Donald Trump has claimed that China may have spread COVID-19 deliberately (“There’s a chance it was intentional”), a theory that fails to explain why China would be willing to sacrifice its own population and economy in order to hurt other countries later.
Blaming Jews for pandemics is a longer tradition. During the Middle Ages, Christians blamed Jews for the Bubonic Plague.
The issue with Kennedy is that he long ago entered his own curated world of pseudoscience, in which every respectable position was presumptively false and every major world event presumptively engineered by secretive elites. This is a mental model that has no braking system. Kennedy can only go further and further into his fever swamp, and every effort to contradict him merely demonstrates that his enemies are determined to silence him.
His campaign has attracted a handful of true believers, a number of inattentive Kennedy family nostalgists, and a crucial segment of mostly conservative-elite allies who are cynically using his candidacy to damage the Democratic Party. But when his campaign is over, it will leave behind the scars of an emboldened movement of conspiracy theorists thrilling to his deranged and dangerous notions.