Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gave a powerful opening statement at the recent Senate hearing on the weaponization of science.
Kennedy presented his opening statement by setting aside his prepared remarks to directly address some of the accusations leveled at him and speak to a much larger issue. I
In his statement, Kennedy blasted the “corporate capture” of science and the “censorship” of dissenting voices. He also warned that the weaponization of science is a threat to democracy.
“We are witnessing a new form of totalitarianism,” Kennedy said. “A totalitarianism that is not based on the barrel of a gun, but on the power of the algorithm.”
Kennedy’s statement was met with applause from Republicans on the committee, but Democrats were silent. They were clearly uncomfortable with Kennedy’s message, and they did not want to hear him speak about the dangers of the weaponization of science.
Below Is a Transcript of his full remarks:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to start — I want to put aside my written statement, for a moment, and address one of the points that was brought up — I think an important point by the Ranking Member — that this body ought to be concerning itself with issues that impact directly the American people: the rising price of groceries, 76 percent over the past two years for basic food stuff, the war in Ukraine, inflation issues, the border issues, many other issues that concern us all as a nation. We can’t do that without the First Amendment, without debate.
When I gave my speech — my announcement speech — in Boston two months ago…I talked about all those issues. I focused on groceries. I focused on the fact that working class people can no longer afford to live in this country. I talked about inflation — all the issues that deeply concern you, and that you’ve devoted your career to alleviating those issues. Five minutes into my speech, when I was talking about Paul Revere, YouTube deplatformed me. I didn’t talk about vaccines in that speech. I didn’t talk about anything that was a verboten subject. I just was talking about my campaign and things — the conversation that we ought to be having with each other as Americans.
But I was shut down. And that is why the First Amendment’s important. Debate — congenial, respectful debate — is the fertilizer, it’s the water, it’s the sunlight for our Democracy. We need to be talking to each other.
Now, this is a letter that many of you signed — many of my fellow Democrats. I’ve spent my life in this party. I’ve devoted my life to the values of this party. This — 102 people signed this. This itself is evidence of the problem that this hearing was convened to address. This is an attempt to censor a censorship hearing.
The charges in this — and by the way, censorship is antithetical to our party. It was appalling to my father, to my uncle, to FDR, to Harry Truman, to Thomas Jefferson, as the Chairman referred to. It is the basis for democracy — it sets us apart from all of the previous forms of government. We need to be able to talk. And the First Amendment was not written for easy speech. It was written for the speech that nobody likes you for.
And I was censored — not just by the Democratic administration — I was censored by the Trump administration. I was the first person censored by the — as the Chairman pointed out — by the Biden administration, two days after it came into office…And by the way, they had to invent a new word, called “malinformation,” to censor people like me. There was no misinformation on my Instagram account. Everything I put on that account was cited and sourced with peer reviewed publications or government databases. Nobody has ever pointed to a single piece of misinformation that I published. I was removed for something they called “malinformation.” Malinformation is information that is true, but is inconvenient to the government, that they don’t want people to hear. And it’s antithetical to the values of our country.
After I announced my presidency, it became more difficult for people to censor me outright. So now I’m subject to this new form of censorship, which is called “targeted propaganda,” where people apply pejoratives like “anti-vax” — I’ve never been anti-vaccine. But everybody in this room probably believes that I have been, because that’s the prevailing narrative.
Anti-semitism, racism — these are the most appalling, disgusting pejoratives, and they’re applied to me to silence me, because people don’t want me to have that conversation — about the war, about groceries, about inflation, about the war on the middle class in this country — that we need to be having.
And by the way, I want to say this, while I’m on the record, that in my entire life — and while I am under oath — in my entire life, I have never uttered a phrase that was either racist or anti-Semitic. I have spent my life fighting — my professional career — fighting for Israel, for the protection of Israel. I have a better record on Israel than anybody in this chamber today. I am the only person who has publicly objected to the two billion dollar payout that the Biden administration’s now making to Iran, which is a genocidal program. I’m the only one who’s objected to that. I’ve fought more ferociously for Israel than anybody.
But I am being censored here, through this target…through smears, through misinterpretations of what I’ve said, through lies, through association, which is a tactic that we all thought had been discredited and dispensed with after the Army-McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. But those same weapons are now being deployed against me to silence me. I know many of the people who wrote this letter. I don’t believe there’s a single person who signed this letter who believes I’m anti-Semitic. I do not believe that. There is no evidence of that.
Now I want to say something, I think, that’s more important, and it goes directly to what you talked about, Ranking Member, which is the need, this toxic polarization, that is destroying our country today. And how do we deal with that? We are more — this kind of division — is more dangerous for our country than anytime since the American Civil War. And how do we deal with that? How are we gonna — every Democrat on this committee believes that we need to end that polarization. Do you think you can do that by censoring people? I’m telling you, you cannot. That only aggravates and amplifies the problem.
We need to start being kind to each other. We need to start being respectful to each other. We need to start restoring the comity — to this chamber and to the rest of America. But it has to start here.
My uncle, Edward Kennedy, has more legislation with his name on it than any senator in United States history. Why is that? Because he was able to reach across the aisle. Because he didn’t deal in insults. Because he didn’t try to censor people. He brought home people who were antithetical to what he believed in. He came home almost every weekend with people like Orrin Hatch to our house at the compound in Hyannisport. At that time, Orrin Hatch, to me, was like Darth Vader, because I was an environmentalist, and I was saying, “Why, why is Teddy bringing this guy home?” But he knew — he was effective because he understood that comity and respect and kindness and compassion and empathy for other people is the way that we…the only way to restore the function in this chamber.
But more importantly, today, we need to give an example in the leadership of our country — of being respectful to each other. If you think I said something that’s anti-Semitic, let’s talk about the details. I’m telling you all the things that I’m accused of — right now, by you — and in this letter are distortions, they’re misrepresentations…I didn’t say those things. There’s fragments that I said, but I…I denounce anybody who uses the words that I have said to imply something that is negative about people who are Jewish. I never said those things.
And I want to point out, also, that the Chairman pointed to Dennis Kucinich, who is right behind me. There is no two people in the country who feel…more differently about American politics than these two people. And yet, they were friends. Dennis attended his (pointing to Jordan) children’s basketball games, attended his daughter’s wedding.
This is how we need to start treating each other in this country. We have to stop trying to destroy each other, to marginalize, to villify, to gaslight each other. We have to find that place inside of ourselves of light, of empathy, of compassion. And above all, we need to elevate the Constitution of the United States, which was written for hard times. And that has to be the premier compass for all of our activities. Thank you very much.
RFK Jr. responds to what he calls "defamations" made against him by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.
"Virtually every statement that you just made about me is inaccurate!"
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