Asian Americans suffered through a brutal spate of assaults at the beginning of the Covid pandemic by people who blamed the Chinese for intentionally releasing the virus on the world. And Mr. Kennedy’s remarks about Ashkenazi Jews hit antisemitic tropes on multiple levels.
Ashkenazi Jews generally descend from those who settled in Eastern Europe after the Roman Empire destroyed the Jewish state around 70 A.D. Sephardic Jews went to the Middle East, North Africa and Spain.
The idea that Ashkenazi Jews are somehow separate from Caucasians has fueled deadly bigotry for centuries, and the conspiracy of Jewish immunity from tragedy has been part of antisemitic attacks as far back as the Black Plague and as recently as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Abraham Foxman, who worked for decades as the head of the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights organization, condemned “antisemitic stereotypes going back to the Middle Ages that claimed Jews protected themselves from diseases.”
“It cannot be ignorance because he is not ignorant,” Mr. Foxman said Saturday night.
Mr. Kennedy responded to The New York Post story with a defense that only deepened his conspiratorial theories. He wrote on Twitter that he “accurately pointed out” that the United States is “developing ethnically targeted bioweapons” — a point he made in his remarks captured on video, when he repeated fanciful Russian propaganda that the United States is collecting Russian D.N.A. in Ukraine to target Russians with tailored bioweapons.