Hines and Kennedy Jr. attend the 2012 Riverkeeper Annual Fisherman’s Ball at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on April 26, 2012 in New York City. Photo via Getty Images.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has publicly fomented suspicion and misinformation about vaccines since around 2005, when he ran a now infamous and later retracted story, “Deadly Immunity”, both in Salon and Rolling stone. (Salon officially retracted the story, while Rolling Stone removed it from its website.) A full nine years into its campaign, he married Cheryl Hines, a pleasant-looking actress, best known for her ongoing role in Calm your enthusiasm. As RFK’s infamy grew, Hines never publicly commented on her husband’s leadership in the anti-vaccine movement, that is, until Tuesday morning, when she was moved to Twitter to call some of his comments at the Defeat the Mandates rally at DC “reprehensible and insensitive”. Kennedy had implied that vaccination mandates were worse than the Holocaust, telling the audience, “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps to Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.
On Tuesday morning, Hines posted the following statement on Twitter“My husband’s reference to Anne Frank at a DC Warrant rally was reprehensible and insensitive. The atrocities that millions endured during the Holocaust should never be compared to anyone or anything. His opinions do not reflect mine.
At the time Hines and Kennedy married, her anti-vaccine activism was not her entire public profile; the New York Times referred to him in their distinguished Vows column as “the president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international water protection organization, and a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, both in New York”, which was broadly true. . But as Kennedy continued a crusade that brought his own family members to publicly call him “tragically wrong,“These more traditional alliances have slowly begun to unravel; he finally quit as President of the Waterkeeper Alliance in 2020.
His penchant for equating vaccines with the Holocaust, however, began long before yesterday. In 2013, before he and Hines were married but after they started their relationship, at the infamous Autism One anti-vaccine conference, he told the crowd, “For me, it’s like camps of Nazi death,” a remark first reported with approval by anti-vaccine blogger Dan Olmstead and curated by the blog Insolence Utile.
Two years later, in 2015, Kennedy aroused strong criticism for calling childhood vaccines a ‘holocaust’ in a screening for Trace amounts, an anti-vaccine documentary.
“It’s a holocaust, what does it do to our country,” he told the crowd and then, after falsely claiming, children getting vaccinated, “They’re getting vaccinated, this that night they have a fever of 103 [degrees], they fall asleep, and three months later their brains are gone.
kennedy apologized at the time, writing in a statement: “I used the term during an impromptu speech as I struggled to find a phrase to express the catastrophic tragedy of autism that has now destroyed the lives of over 20 million children. and broke up their families”.
Now he’s done it again, on a stage big enough and at a time difficult enough that it generated a real backlash: the US Holocaust Museum Memorial and the Anti-Defamation League. both expressed their displeasure, as is Israel’s Yad Vashem.
And now Hines has finally joined the talk, starting with a confusing Twitter exchange last night with NBC reporter Ben Collins. Hines had responded to a Twitter user urging her to speak out about her husband’s inflammatory remarks, to which she responded, “My husband’s opinions do not reflect my own. Although we love each other, we differ on many current issues.
But when Collins called the remark, reasonably, a response to RFK Jr.’s statements about the Holocaust, Hines told him, “I assure you that’s not what I was commenting on. After some back and forth, during which Collins tried unsuccessfully to clarify what she was commenting on, he wrote, “I think you should probably be clear here about what you disagree with him about instead of just doing this dance. So what exactly are you disagreeing with him about?”
Hines didn’t respond at the time, but on Tuesday morning she posted her statement on Twitter, which, among other things, will surely generate a series of debates over whether anyone is obligated to speak publicly about controversies. of her spouse or very bad historical metaphors.
But it still remains a bit of a mystery why it was the Holocaust metaphor that broke the camel’s back. Could she be the star of a show written and directed by famous Jewish comedian Larry David? Is the disapproving weight of multiple organizations dedicated to the fight against anti-Seitism a regulator? Maybe another cryptic statement on Twitter awaits us, or another near-decade of silence.