Former Rep. Joe Kennedy III condemned his uncle Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s claims that COVID-19 was possibly engineered to target certain ethnic groups — remarks widely criticized as racist and antisemitic.
“My uncle’s comments were hurtful and wrong,” said Joe Kennedy, 42, an ex-Democratic representative from Massachusetts who now serves as U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland. “I unequivocally condemn what he said,” he tweeted Monday.
Kerry Kennedy, RFK Jr.’s sister, also condemned the remarks in a statement issued by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, her nonprofit activist organization.
“I strongly condemn my brother’s deplorable and untruthful remarks last week about Covid being engineered for ethnic targeting,” Kerry Kennedy said.
RFK Jr.’s controversial remarks, made during a New York City dinner last week and first reported by The New York Post, included the Democratic presidential candidate saying he did not know whether the virus was “deliberately targeted or not,” but that there were “papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact” on different groups.
“There is an argument that it is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately,” he said. “COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”
According to The Post, Kennedy also claimed the Chinese “are spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing ethnic bioweapons,” and that the U.S. was also “developing ethnic bioweapons.”
Numerous Jewish organizations on the left and right also spoke out against RFK Jr.’s comments.
RFK Jr. defended himself and attempted to clarify his remarks on social media, calling the Post’s story “mistaken” and linking a study detailing the different effects COVID-19 had on people of different races to support his claims.
This is not the first time RFK Jr.’s controversial positions have put him at odds with other members of the Kennedy family. In 2019, Kennedy’s sister, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, his brother, Joseph P. Kennedy II and his niece Maeve Kennedy McKean wrote an essay praising Kennedy for his work on the environment, but saying he is “wrong” about vaccines.
At a press conference in April launching his 2024 campaign, Kennedy acknowledged that many members of his family “just plain disagree” with his views. “They are entitled to their beliefs… and I love them back,” he said.