Democratic presidential candidate and rabid anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has decided to take his 2024 campaign to new, extremist levels.
Moms for Liberty has been labeled an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, for disguising its attacks on schools, teachers, and the LGBTQ community as “parental rights.” The group is especially famous for pushing bans on books that discuss identity issues, including race, gender, and sexuality, or have sexual content; chapters of the group have run (sometimes successful) campaigns in schools across the country. It’s a broad ambush, “seeking to undermine public education holistically and to divide communities,” the SPLC’s Rachel Carroll Rivas told NPR earlier this month.
So why is Kennedy, who purports to care about issues of censorship, speaking at the summit? Perhaps because he’s running on the wrong ballot.
Other guest speakers at the Moms for Liberty summit include some of the top 2024 Republican candidates: twice-impeached and twice-indicted former President Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and anti-woke multimillionaire Vivek Ramaswamy. In fact, Kennedy appears to be the only Democrat on the list of guest speakers, which also includes far-right conspiracy theorists and the president of the right-wing think tank Heritage Foundation.
This isn’t a total shock for anyone who has familiarized themselves with Kennedy’s actual political views. The candidate has a long history of spreading conspiracy theories—including before Covid-19 saw a resurgence in anti-vaxxers—and his fringe ideas often come with a racist or homophobic twist.
In the last week alone, RFK Jr. has made news for comparing Covid-19 mask mandates to Nazi experiments, saying chemicals in our water are making frogs gay and kids transgender, and claiming Wi-Fi causes cancer. He appeared on the conservative network Newsmax and accused China of developing “ethnic bioweapons” designed to go after specific races of people. And he promised to, if elected, gut funding for federal health agencies that recommend vaccine schedules for children. That includes agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Earlier this month, Kennedy spent an hour sucking up to Elon Musk in a Twitter space, praising the then CEO for his dedication to free speech. Musk, meanwhile, has let Nazis return to Twitter, effectively forced out the executive overseeing the site’s safety and content moderation, and haphazardly enforced hate speech policies to target trans people.