Since writing my “preview” last Friday of the antivaccine “Defeat the Mandates” rally held on Sunday, I have been debating whether or not to write a followup post. The reason was that I just didn’t know if there was anything much to say, given that the rally went pretty much as I had predicted, with a stacked bill of antivaccine cranks old (e.g., Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Del Bigtree) and new (e.g., Dr. Robert Malone, Dr. Peter McCullough, and Steve Kirsch), antimaskers, and COVID-19 minimizers spewing a litany of common anti-“lockdown,” antimask, and antivaccine propaganda, all couched in rhetoric of “freedom” and “resistance to tyranny,” just as expected and the same as it ever was for antivaxxers. I was originally not going to write further about this, but leave it to RFK Jr. to give me a reason when he sullied the memory of Anne Frank:
Given that tomorrow is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I decided to respond. As I thought at the time, saying that antivaxxers today have it worse than Anne Frank because 5G, satellites, and Bill Gates mean that you can’t hide in a secret annex for two years before being captured by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz is a hell of a take, one that surprised and shocked even vaccine advocates as jaded as I have become to offensive Holocaust analogies by antivaxxers after having heard and read them going back nearly two decades.
Is what RFK Jr. said any better in context? No, it is not:
What we’re seeing today. What we’re seeing today is what I call turnkey totalitarianism. They are putting in place all of these technological mechanisms for control we’ve never seen before. It’s been the ambition of every totalitarian state from the beginning of mankind to control every aspect of the behavior of conduct, of thought, and to obliterate dissent. None of them have been able to do it. They didn’t have the technological capacity. Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could you could cross the Alps to Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did. I visited in 1962, East Germany with my father, and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped. So it was possible. Many died doing it, but it was possible.
So RFK Jr. thinks that the “turnkey totalitarianism” of the vaccine surveillance state is even worse than Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, because at least you could hide in an attic in Amsterdam for two years from the Nazis or escape to Switzerland and you could escape the Soviet Union by risking your life to climb the Berlin Wall. Nope, that is not really better, and I say this after having visited the Anne Frank house in 2017 and been amazed at how a group of people could stay hidden for two years in what Frank called the “secret annex.” I’m also puzzled. East Germany was under Soviet control in 1962. People who escaped Soviet control would have been in West Germany; yet RFK Jr. said he and his father had visited East Germany. Did he meet people who had escaped to West Germany and then somehow been captured and brought back? So confusing. RFK Jr.’s remarks remind me of this clip, which I like to post whenever Del Bigtree is on a roll with bad historical analogies:
Speaking of Del Bigtree, not satisfied with his misappropriation of the Yellow Star of David, during his speech at the rally, he went beyond the common “Nuremberg gambit” beloved of antivaxxers, who fantasize about trying vaccine advocates, scientists, and doctors at a “Nuremberg-style” tribunal for their “crimes against humanity.” Del Bigtree, with big fascist energy, wants to go after the press:
I very much got a feeling of déjà vu over the whole affair, even as the press published stories of outrage that RFK Jr. would invoke the memory of Anne Frank in this way, while the social media and press offices of important Holocaust museums responded:
Let’s get back to RFK Jr., though. If there’s one thing that he did by invoking Anne Frank and the Holocaust, it was to remind everyone that he’s done this before. Indeed, even as RFK Jr. apologized for sullying the memory of Anne Frank by invoking her name to spread an antivaccine message, I remember that we’ve been here before:
Even RFK Jr.’s wife Cheryl Hines threw him under the bus:
The most appropriate reaction to RFK Jr.’s insincere “apology” for invoking the name of Anne Frank is:
Here’s what I mean. Let’s take a journey back to 2015, nearly five years before the pandemic, when RFK Jr. made the news for this:
But some parents fear information about the hazards of vaccines has been suppressed, largely because of what they call the pharmaceutical industry’s influence over health officials. Many parents believe their children have been damaged by vaccines. When Kennedy asked the crowd of a few hundred viewers how many parents had a child injured by vaccines, numerous hands went up.
“They get the shot, that night they have a fever of a hundred and three, they go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone,” Kennedy said. “This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”
Because autism (caused by vaccines, of course, in RFK Jr.’s warped world view) was just like the Holocaust. To complete the feeling of “déjà vu all over again,” RFK Jr. was even forced to apologize for these remarks:
“I want to apologize to all whom I offended by my use of the word holocaust to describe the autism epidemic,” Kennedy said in a statement. “I employed the term during an impromptu speech as I struggled to find an expression to convey the catastrophic tragedy of autism which has now destroyed the lives of over 20 million children and shattered their families.”
Or, as I put it at the time as I described RFK Jr.’s apology as a “notpology,” the “vaccine-induced autism epidemic” is as bad as the Holocaust, but I won’t use the word anymore because it offends people who know what a real Holocaust is. I also add right now: As if this makes it better? RFK Jr. viewed what he considered to be “vaccine-induced autism” to be so horrible that, as he “struggled to find an expression,” an analogy, to describe it, he latched onto comparing vaccines and autism to the systematic persecution and genocide of six million Jews, apparently thinking this to be an appropriate analogy! Then he only “apologized” because the blowback for his offensive words was so severe, rather the same way that he’s doing now. Déjà vu all over again indeed. If you’ll excuse my language, invoking Anne Frank and her hiding from the Nazis in a cramped attic is just the nasty cherry on the shit pie of offensive Holocaust misappropriation.
If you want to just how insincere RFK Jr. is when he “apologizes” for his Holocaust analogies after they make a stink, let’s travel back two more years, to 2013. Nearly nine years ago, the yearly antivaccine quackfest known as Autism One in Chicago, as tiny as it was compared to the estimated 10,000 or so attendees (not the 30,000+ attendees that RFK Jr. has claimed) at the “Defeat the Mandates” rally, was the biggest antivax game in town. That was the first time that I noticed RFK Jr. making Holocaust analogies about autism and vaccines, learning about it from a blog post over at the antivaccine blog Age of Autism by the blog editor Dan Olmsted entitled RFK Jr., Nazi Death Camps and the Battle For Our Future. The link to the article is no longer there, but I did quote from it extensively in a contemporaneous blog post in which I sarcastically asked antivaxxers if they could please knock it off with the autism-Holocaust analogies, already.
Each of us will have our highlights from last weekend’s extraordinary Autism One gathering in Chicago, but for me it was Bobby Kennedy Jr. saying, “To my mind this is like the Nazi death camps.”
“This” is the imprisonment of so many of our children in the grip of autism. Talk about cutting through the neurodiverse claptrap! When Bobby Kennedy says something, it gives “cover,” in a sense, for others to use the same kind of language and frame the debate in the same kind of way. (Language that reminds me of David Kirby’s phrase, “the shuttered hell” of autism, in Evidence of Harm.)
Those who can advocate for themselves should do so. Move right along, please. Those who cannot have advocates like their parents and RFK Jr. who are sick of mincing words.
Amusingly, this was RFK Jr. speaking his mind in what he viewed as a “safe space,” an antivaccine quackfest in which the audience was guaranteed to be friendly given that reporters and vaccine advocates who tried to attend were, consistent with antivaxxers’ frequent laments about “lack of debate” and “free speech,” routinely ushered out of the conference by security if they were discovered. Consistent with the antivax fantasy of “Nuremberg-style tribunals” to punish vaccine advocates, RFK Jr. also called for Dr. Paul Offit to be thrown in jail, even as he winked at his audience over Nuremberg by denying that he meant Nuremberg:
The enablers may not belong in Nuremburg, but they do belong in jail, Bobby said. “I would do a lot to see Paul Offit and all these good people behind bars,” he said, after listing Offit’s litany of lies and profit. Just to make sure people got the point, he returned to it in his speech. “Is it hyperbole to say they should be in jail? They should be in jail and the key should be thrown away.”
No wonder antivaxxers liked Donald Trump and his “Lock her up!” chants so much!
Now here’s what I mean by RFK Jr.’s hypocrisy. This time around, he didn’t apologize. Rather, sometime soon after, Olmsted’s article disappeared from AoA, and the site’s file apparently was apparently modified so that the almighty Wayback Machine at Archive.org could no longer keep the article archived after it had been deleted. I can’t prove that this is what happened, and I kick myself more and more as time goes on for not having saved screenshots of the article, but my guess is that RFK Jr. had a little talk with Dan Olmsted to get him to remove that article. Consistent with this hypothesis of mine, only a couple of weeks later RFK Jr. refused to provide Laura Helmuth a transcript or video (and you know that antivaxxers videotaped everything) of the speech he’d given to Autism One.
Fast forward almost nine years, and let’s see what’s on RFK Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense website today. Oh, look, it’s an article by a Holocaust survivor named Vera Sharav entitled Holocaust Survivor: Never Again Is Now. Unless We All Resist, and it was published the same day that RFK Jr. “apologized” for his Anne Frank remarks at the Defeat the Mandates rally, with the tagline:
In a speech delivered Sunday in Brussels, Holocaust survivor Vera Sharav described the striking parallels between what she witnessed as a child in Nazi Germany, and COVID policies being enacted today by governments around the globe.
Holocaust survivor Vera Sharav was scheduled to deliver her remarks below on Sunday in Brussels at a rally protesting COVID mandates. After the rally was abruptly canceled because police threatened protesters, Sharav and other rally speakers gave their speeches at a restaurant.
“Help, help, I’m being repressed!” I can’t resist repeating about RFK Jr., not Sharav:
I really, really, really hate to be put in the position of taking a Holocaust survivor like Vera Sharav to task, but her speech is so full of false analogies, fear mongering about vaccines and COVID-19 restrictions, and conspiracy theories, that she leaves me no choice. So let’s see what Sharav had to say:
Today, survivors are shaken by the fear-mongering, and divisive, discriminatory measures against a minority. Horrifying scenes include police in black uniforms brutally attacking demonstrators in European cities, in Australia, and, yes, in Israel. These are painful reminders of the prelude to the Holocaust in which the Nazis:
- Used the psychological weapons of fear and propaganda to impose a genocidal regime.
- Demonized Jews as the spreaders of disease and the cause of their misery.
- Systematically obliterated moral norms and values.
- Destroyed their social conscience in the name of public health.
Today’s predators are also using fear and propaganda to maintain a state of anxiety and helplessness. The objective — then and now — is identical — to condition people to become obedient and to follow directives without question.
The global assault on our freedoms and our right to self-determination is facilitated by the weaponization of medicine. Then and now, the medical establishment has provided a veneer of legitimacy to mass medical murder.
“Identical”? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Sharav’s remarks get worse, though, so much worse:
The modern-day Nazis’ objective is global population reduction. The global oligarchs are determined to gain absolute control of the world’s resources — natural, financial and human.
COVID injections use an experimental, gene transfer technology. Its testing on the global population is in gross violation of the foremost human right to “voluntary, informed consent.”
Those who refuse to be injected are vilified as spreaders of a deadly virus. They are subjected to increasingly harsh penalties and discrimination. Germany, Austria and Italy are once again swept up by an orgy of fascist hate-mongering. This time the unvaccinated are being targeted.
The claimed rationale for vaccine mandates was to protect people from getting and transmitting infection. However, the incontrovertible evidence shows that COVID injections do not prevent infection or its transmission and they do not provide immunity.
These are, to put it mildly, common antivaccine tropes, complete with Bill Gates and Pharma conspiracy theories. Again, it is not true that the vaccines do not provide immunity. They do. Admittedly, it is true that the immunity provided by existing vaccines against the Omicron variant is considerably less than it was than for the original SARS-CoV-2 strain against which the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were designed, both vaccines are still highly effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization due to Omicron. (Also, guess what? “Natural immunity” is no better against the Omicron variant, as evidenced by the number of reinfections with Omicron.) Moreover, it is not true that the vaccines “do not prevent transmission.” They do. It’s just that they are not nearly 100% effective at preventing transmission.
As virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen put it in response to the same argument:
So Vera Sharav is spreading antivaccine misinformation and misusing her moral authority as a Holocaust survivor who suffered horrifically to spin vaccines and public health measures against COVID-19 as being akin to a new Holocaust. I’ve been meaning to write about her for a long time, given that she has gone from being a reasonable critic of overreach and ethical lapses in human experimentation to what can only be described now as a full-bore antivaccine crank, given her speech above and many other things she’s written and said. she founded a group called the Alliance for Human Research Protection, which, under the guise of promoting “informed consent” (sound familiar?) promotes all manner of anti-pharma and antivaccine misinformation, complete with invocations of the Nuremberg Code favored by antivaxxers and another “stacked bill” of antivaccine quacks on her advisory board, including Drs. Christopher Exley, David Brownstein, Christiane Northrup, Alvin Moss, Antonietta Gatti, Elizabeth Mumper, James Lyons-Weiler, Kenneth Stoller, Paul Thomas, Richard Moskowitz, Sin Hang Lee (what a blast from the past!), Stephanie Seneff, Christopher Shaw, James Meehan, and more. (What, where’s Joe Mercola?) No wonder RFK Jr. deployed her to deflect from his offensive invocation of Anne Frank.
I will definitely have to revisit Vera Sharav in more detail, but now is not the time, given that that’s not what this post is about. What it is about is RFK Jr.’s hypocrisy, as demonstrated by his history of repeatedly using Holocaust analogies to demonize vaccines and vaccine mandates, to be followed by obvious “notpologies” when the blowback gets too fierce, as it did in 2015 and this week. I’ll conclude with what is perhaps the best response to the misuse of Anne Frank to promote antivaccine disinformation and then his obvious notpology:
This is who RFK Jr. is. This is who he’s been at least since 2005, when he first announced himself to be an antivaccine conspiracy theorist. This is who he will likely always be, an antivaccine crank and conspiracy theorist who routinely misuses Holocaust analogies and only “apologizes” for doing so when the heat gets too intense.