There's a certain kind of person who sees a sinister masterplan at work where, in reality, simple human chaos abounds. Robert F. Kennedy Jr is clearly one of them.
Hitler was another. Some people seem hard-wired to discern alarming patterns, whereas others see the tumult of life.
With the face of a wizened frat boy and the humorless delivery of the terminally deluded, RFK Jr clearly grew up gathering audiences because of his family name.
But the conspiracy theories that he increasingly traffics in are dark web bunkum, just the kind of 4Chan garbage that even frat boys would say 'Buddy, give it a rest' to.
Do you believe – as RFK Jr apparently does - that Bill Gates wants to control the world via orbiting satellites? If you do, why? Why would someone who owns a super yacht with another smaller yacht inside of it busy himself with the thoughts of mere mortals?
Taking the most mundane story and then catapulting it into the stratosphere is the first law of conspiracy theories. Your story has to sound somewhat plausible on its face before you can extrapolate and then steer it toward madness.
The basic recipe is to tell people that they are being hoodwinked by their leaders – it's never very hard to believe – but then you tell them it's actually all a sinister plot by (insert whack job theory) those people.
The problem with all of RFK Jr's oddball conspiracy theories is that they fall apart when you scrutinize them. People are simply not capable of sustaining international plots as sinister as the ones that he has spread on TV and online, trying to feed them into our political arenas.
What conspiracies am I talking about?
The microchips in vaccines one.
And so many others.
Even Ian Fleming stayed away from these kinds of storylines, thinking them too crass for public consumption. But Fleming lived before the internet.
RFK Jr. claimed Elon Musk’s electric vehicles will drive unemployed people to implant Bill Gates’ tracking chips which will assign “tasks” like watch an ad, “listen to this music,” walk a grocery store aisle, or play “a video game” and the monitor biometrics for compliance. pic.twitter.com/2clKIbW7Ue— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) July 31, 2023
Thanks to sites like Facebook and Twitter (now X,) a neo-medievalism has arisen in the last decades where even the most idiotic conjectures are now seriously entertained and shared by human adults, providing them with simple explanations for the often complex and inexplicable patterns of life and history.
But if you're Irish or Irish American, or indeed a Kennedy family member I imagine, it's hard not to take it a little personally as this credulous oaf boorishly trashes the hard-won and genuinely inspiring Kennedy family legacy with his muck-spreading paranoid nonsense.
Recall that last year at a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, RFK Jr compared the government recommendation that you protect yourself from an early and needless death with the Covid-19 vaccination shot to an edict more suited to Germany under the Nazis.
At the antivaxx rally in DC, RFK Jr. says that in the future "none of us can run and none of us can hide" because of Bill Gates' satellites and also 5G, unlike... the Holocaust.
"Even in Hitler's Germany, you could hide in the attic like Anne Frank did." pic.twitter.com/bRtmDBTxZl— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) January 23, 2022
It's an old law of politics: the more overheated the rhetoric, the flimsier the cause.
Does anyone in RFK Jr's vicinity ever actually tell him that he's completely full of sh-t? The answer is probably no. RFK Jr has the countenance – and the politics - of a man who has never been successfully reprimanded. It's just everyone else who has to suffer through listening to him.
In America, we always follow the money, and it turns out that over half the money in RFK Jr's political action committee (nearly $10 million in total) comes from just one Republican mega-donor named Timothy Mellon. That's not the kind of endorsement a Democratic candidate usually courts, but RFK Jr isn't really a Democratic candidate, is he?
Some critics – echoing his own conspiracies - have claimed he's just a chaos agent bought and paid for by GOP operatives to try to destabilize the 2024 presidential race.
We have cause to be alarmed, unfortunately. The American media landscape has rarely been as diminished as it is now, with steep advertising cuts throttling the ability of hometown and county newspapers (and the journalists they hire) to survive and thrive and defend democracy at the local and national level.
We desperately need a new business model to support hard-hitting journalism, but instead, we are watching fascism and authoritarianism rise and rise on a diet of light infotainment, conspiracy theories, and biased algorithms.
Subscription-based news is putting an ever-growing firewall between the public and the fourth estate and men like RFK Jr are becoming useful idiots that nihilistic men like Steve Bannon are using to - in his own phrase - flood the zone with sh-t.
We have no choice but to resist RFK Jr and the people behind the scenes bankrolling his campaign and pulling his strings. How sad to see a Kennedy make himself a potentially bought and paid-for “chaos agent” against the same party that his family has given their all to, decade after decade.