Anti-LGBTQ+ Conspiracist Robert F. Kennedy to Appear on Michigan Ballot

Hank Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of slain 1968 Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, has officially qualified for the November ballot in Michigan. Kennedy and running mate Nicole Shanahan are running as the Natural Law Party’s candidates in the Wolverine State.

The Party is akin to a political zombie, living on for two decades since the national Natural Law Party, which was notable for endorsing transcendental meditation as a panacea for a host of social ills, collapsed in 2004. The Michigan branch survived by making alliances with other small parties. It has given its ballot line to other minor party candidates in the past such as the Socialist Party’s Emidio Soltysyk and the Alliance Party’s Rocky de la Fuente

Kennedy is by now most famous for his advocacy of conspiracy theories involving vaccines, including the vaccine against Covid. In 2015, Kennedy told a crowd that mandatory vaccinations are “a holocaust.” At a 2022 anti-vaccine rally, Kennedy compared opposition to vaccines to the life of Anne Frank, who hid from the storm troopers of Nazi Germany. Ironically, for all his invocations of the Nazi genocide, Kennedy found allies in the Neo-Nazi National Democratic Party. Kennedy spoke at an anti-vaccine assemblage in Berlin organized by the Neo-Nazi group and another far-right party, Alternative for Germany. 

In his Quixotic crusades against vaccines, pathology and the scientific method, Kennedy has crossed into overt anti-Semitism. When claiming, with no evidence, that Covid was a biological weapon, he stated the virus was “ethnically targeted.” Who did Kennedy say would be spared from this supposedly engineered virus? Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese people. 

In his alliances with Nazis and dalliances with anti-Semitism, Kennedy is reliving the experience of his grandfather, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. The elder Kennedy was a Nazi sympathizer who disdained democracy. Kennedy Sr. was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying “Democracy is finished in England. It may be here,” meaning in the United States. His personal correspondence was filled with anti-Semitic invective directed at the “Jew media” and the “Killers of Christ.” Joseph Kennedy’s defeatism and anti-Semitism understandably cost him his job as President Roosevelt’s ambassador to England. Those of you who are historically aware may wonder if Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is even conscious that he is following in his grandfather’s footsteps. Wherever Joe Sr. is, he’s surely smiling upon his grandson.

Kennedy’s frenzied opposition to vaccines has consumed much of the media attention about him and his campaign. This has unfortunately allowed some of his other bizarre beliefs to fly under the radar. Kennedy has spread the unsound idea that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. Instead of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Kennedy puts the blame on poppers and “a gay lifestyle,” whatever he means by that.

In denying that HIV causes AIDS, Kennedy has further allied himself with the American right. During the heyday of HIV/AIDS denialism in the early ‘90s, the conservative Heritage Foundation — of Project 2025 infamy — put out articles asking questions like “Is the AIDS Virus a Science Fiction?” and “Is HIV the Cause of AIDS?” Both articles were authored by discredited molecular biologist Peter Duesberg. HIV/AIDS denialism can have disastrous consequences as seen by the example of South Africa, where hundreds of thousands died because the government endorsed false theories about the cause of AIDS.

Another theory floated by Kennedy is that trans children are the result of “swimming through a soup of toxic chemicals.” Kennedy made the transphobic claim during an interview with anti-trans professor Jordan Peterson. Kennedy told the far-right Canadian political pundit that “chemical exposure” was responsible for cases of juvenile depression and “sexual dysphoria.” In spreading this theory, which has no scientific basis, Kennedy was echoing a similar theory spread by Sandy Hook-truther Alex Jones, who infamously claimed scientists were “putting chemicals in the water that turn the friggin’ frogs gay.”

Aside from spreading anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theories, Kennedy has sought support from at least one hate group. Last year, the candidate announced he would speak, alongside GOP candidates Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, at the annual convention of Moms for Liberty, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated extremist organization. The group has led the charge to ban books dealing with queer themes or other “woke” issues. Kennedy has apparently not followed the words of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, who remarked that “libraries should be open to all — except the censor.” The actual convention did not see a Kennedy appearance, as he claimed a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending. It is also possible he determined discretion was the better part of valor when it transpired that the Indiana chapter of the group was sending out a newsletter with a quote from Adolf Hitler on the cover.

One Michigander who definitely would support Kennedy is former Congressman Clare E. Hoffman, a Republican who had some major similarities with the candidate. Like Kennedy, he was chummy with Nazis. “Many of us doubt that Germany wants more than has been asked through the ages by every people,” Hoffman reassured, “by every nation, which has found itself with territory too small…” Also like Kennedy, Hoffman endorsed conspiracy theories about public health. The congressman argued that water fluoridation and the Polio vaccine were not medical advancements that would improve well-being, but poisons being slipped into the unwitting public. Unfortunately for Kennedy’s campaign, Hoffman died in 1967. 

In a shocking recent poll from the Marketing Resource Group, 13% of Michiganders said they would vote for Kennedy, despite nearly his entire family (who would presumably know him best) opposing his candidacy and supporting incumbent Joe Biden. Given his appalling rhetoric and record, it should be clear that Kennedy doesn’t deserve the vote of a single queer person, or a single supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. His family set a good example by shunning his campaign.