A friend of mine wrote this review for a website whose livelihood depends on SEO-generated traffic. He was therefore unable to post it for fear of offending the search engines and thereby getting the site penalized. I have no such concern for this site and am therefore posting it here.
Book Review: A Letter to Liberals, from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Censorship and COVID: An Attack on Science and American Ideals, by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2022. x + 129 pp. $16.99.
Eight months after the publication of this book, in April of 2023, its author, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., threw his hat into the ring for the Democratic Party’s 2024 presidential nomination.
This fact cannot be ignored in any review of RFK Jr.’s recent writings, and I will proceed accordingly, indicating where appropriate how the themes of the book both overlap with, and differ from, the themes of the political campaign so far.
Naturally, RFK Jr.’s candidacy also provides additional weight and significance to the book itself, which will no doubt attract far more attention now than it would otherwise have done.
A Letter to Liberals is almost entirely devoted to rehearsing the facts relating to the government-mandated COVID-19 lockdowns and so-called “vaccines”—events which RFK Jr. questioned as they were happening, earning him ridicule by the mainstream media (MSM), cancellation by the Big Tech social media platforms, and ostracism by his own political party, the Democratic Party.
As such, the book functions as a useful capsule history of the whole quagmire of COVID-related government, Big Tech, and MSM disinformation, lies, and heavy-handed oppression, the overwhelming effect of which is to vindicate RFK Jr.’s original criticisms of the Trump and Biden administrations.
The book is organized very simply. In between a brief introduction and an even briefer conclusion, RFK Jr. has written 13 chapters, each of which lays out, with elaborate documentation—the book has over 300 footnotes—a set of factual claims that have gone in two years from being vociferously denounced as “conspiracy theory” to being grudgingly accepted as true by the MSM and/or the US government.
I will proceed by briefly reviewing the author’s discussion of each of the 13 claims, and end by reflecting upon the broader significance of his book and presidential candidacy.
1. It is not true that the COVID-19 so-called “vaccine” saved millions of lives and ended the pandemic.
On the contrary, the evidence now shows that the vaccines—which are not vaccines at all in the conventional sense, but experimental gene therapies—were not only largely ineffective in preventing the spread of infection, they were also—setting apart the elderly and people with serious comorbidities—an actual threat to the health and even the life of children, young adults, and other healthy people who got “the jab.”
2. Countries with lower vaccination rates and/or which relied upon therapeutic treatments with antiviral agents such as Ivermectin and Hydrochloroquine—virtually banned in the US—had the lowest COVID death rates worldwide, while countries with high vaccination rates and low use of antiviral therapeutics had much higher death rates.
One striking fact says it all: highly vaccinated European countries suffered far higher death rates than countries in Africa and other parts of the developing world with very low rates of vaccination. The US—a very highly vaccinated country in which doctors risked losing their license to practice medicine if they prescribed life-saving therapeutic drugs to their patients—had the largest number of reported COVID-related deaths in the entire world.
3. The vaccines did little to prevent infection or transmission of the disease.
Whether government health officials lied to us or were simply wrong and unwilling to correct their mistakes, the unremitting disinformation campaign emanating from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the leader of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci, led directly to the Biden Administration’s implementation of the mass lockdown of American society.
The lockdowns—which were contraindicated by the CDC’s own protocols—were not only an act of egregious political oppression, they led to economic devastation and to untold psychological and physical suffering by millions of Americans. The full repercussions of the COVID hysteria will not be felt for many years.
4. The vaccines were not only ineffective, they were potentially positively harmful for many of the people who received them.
RFK Jr. presents the results of a study published in The Lancet in June 2022, showing that even the limited efficacy the vaccines provided waned rapidly over time, falling into negative territory after seven to nine months.
What does this mean? Simply that the vaccines eventually became “negatively effective,” or, as RFK Jr. explains (p. 31):
This means the vaccine is actively contributing to more infections.
5. Not only did the vaccines not do much to prevent infection, they did not even mitigate the severity of infection as well as authorities claimed.
The majority of people who died from COVID-19 were fully vaccinated. A spate of news reports in early 2022 to the contrary were based on flawed guidelines imposed on hospitals by the CDC, which led to over-labeling of patients as “unvaccinated.”
6. Direct harm caused by the vaccines was likely greater than any benefits.
RFK Jr. writes that (pp. 42–43):
In June 2022, another devastating Lancet preprint concluded that mRNA vaccines are causing more serious injuries and hospitalizations than they are averting.
He goes on to point out that (p. 43):
In any rational universe, this paper would ring the death knell for mRNA vaccines and trigger an immediate moratorium on public health recommendations for these products.
7. Global mass vaccination led to excess mortality worldwide.
Evidence from insurance companies points to a sharp increase in unexplained excess deaths (meaning more than statistically expected), especially among young adults.
For example, in the “millennial” age cohort, it appears that the vaccines led to around 61,000 excess deaths in one year—more than the total American deaths in the Vietnam War over 18 years.
In the American military itself, the mandatory vaccines probably killed far more young men than the virus did.
8. The CDC, with the connivance of the US government and the MSM, systematically hid the truth about the vaccines from the American people.
In early 2022, even the New York Times had to admit that the CDC had been systematically withholding data from the public. RFK Jr. compares the medical establishment’s performance during the COVID hysteria to their behavior during the opioid crisis.
9. The US government partnered with the MSM and Big Tech social media platforms to suppress the truth about the vaccines.
RFK Jr. characterizes the problem succinctly (p. 57): “a highly orchestrated global pandemic of journalistic malpractice.”
More expansively, he explains:
A group of companies that have historically competed against one another to reveal government untruths have now partnered in lockstep to promote the Government line and connived to work in concert to attack reporting that runs counter to officially proclaimed orthodoxies.
Even more frighteningly, the author recounts how a pact dubbed the “Trusted News Initiative” between nearly all the leading news organizations and the US government was put into effect, with the explicit aim of squelching any information that challenged the government’s official vaccine narrative.
There was a heavy financial component to this pact, as well. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services alone paid about $1 billion to the MSM to encourage them to push the official narrative. Moreover, the author shows how Big Pharma provides the overwhelming majority of advertising dollars to MSM news departments.
10. Virtually all RFK Jr.’s claims that were at first denounced as “conspiracy theory” were ultimately vindicated.
A whole litany of inconvenient facts exposed by RFK Jr. were first denounced or suppressed by the MSM, only to be grudgingly admitted later to be true.
He lists nine specific claims:
- Masking is ineffective and even dangerous.
- Social-distancing had no basis in science.
- School closures were not science-based.
- Lockdowns were counterproductive.
- Vaccination caused far more deaths in children than it averted.
- Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests to measure supposed transmissibility were ineffective.
- The virus most likely originated in the P4–security level, bioweapons research laboratory in Wuhan, China.
- Natural immunity was better than the very limited protection provided by the vaccines.
- The mRNA vaccines were capable of altering patients’ DNA.
Each of these propositions went from being heresy—which had to be stamped out at all costs—to being widely acknowledged orthodoxy over the course of the short period between mid-2020 and late 2022, when the book was published.
11. Government-imposed lockdowns and vaccine mandates had a disproportionately adverse effect on small business owners, on children, on the poor, and on people of color.
One of the main reasons is that political and business elites, government bureaucrats, university professors, and other similar highly educated professionals were far more capable of adapting to working online from home during the lockdowns than were lower-wage workers.
Moreover, multinational companies thrived during this time, while more than 3.3 million small businesses went to the wall.
Tens of millions of children, who were at almost no risk themselves from the virus, suffered not only loneliness, anxiety, and depression in record numbers, but also the severe compromise of their normal academic and psychosocial development, as a result of school closures and having to wear masks. Children were without a doubt the worst and most helpless victims of the COVID hysteria.
The irony, of course—as RFK Jr. is quick to point out—is that these are all constituencies whose interests the Democratic Party has traditionally championed.
RFK Jr. ends this chapter with the sad observation that children and low-paid workers are almost the only Americans still required to wear masks, which is still true for many as of this writing (summer 2023).
The author further opines that (p. 84):
For many of them, the masks have become potent symbols of orchestrated fear, obedience, subservience, and the dehumanizing anonymity of being poor and powerless.
Summing up this important chapter, the author writes (p.77):
The lockdown’s leading corporate promoters, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Walmart, flourished while their Main Street competitors withered and died.
12. In pushing the COVID hysteria, government bureaucrats and their MSM auxiliary forces have mounted an unprecedented attack on the Bill of Rights.
RFK Jr. shows how various oppressive COVID-related regulations violated the First, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution.
Moreover, he points out how the Democratic Party has flipped over the course of 20 years from the vocal opposition of many of its members to the Patriot Act passed in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, to the near-unanimous support for clearly unconstitutional measures today.
13. The COVID hysteria and resulting government oppression have spawned a political rebellion among the American people, which is potentially dangerous.
RFK Jr. makes it clear that, in spite of everything, he remains a dyed-in-the-wool liberal with a visceral distrust and fear of conservative populism.
Finally, RFK Jr. includes several brief concluding chapters in which he draws some general conclusions of a political nature from the foregoing discussion.
For my part, I would like to emphasize one fundamental theme that RFK. Jr. stresses throughout the book, which is perhaps the most important indicator of the challenge that his campaign may present to the Democratic Party in 2024.
That theme is the theme of truth.
RFK Jr. returns to this theme again and again throughout the book, approaching it from different angles.
For example, he writes that (p. 76):
The CDC, FDA, and NIH have been the leading promoters of a tsunami of “vaccine misinformation.”
Elsewhere, he is even more direct. For example, he notes that (p. 40):
The failure of the mainstream media to report the truth does not change the truth.
Another important theme which may crop up during the campaign is the abuse of power and the failure to respect the rule of law.
The abuse of power is a theme RFK Jr. could have pursued with greater vigor. Nevertheless, he does deserve credit for making this remark in passing (p. 30):
Rasmussen poll data show widespread liberal support for confining the unvaccinated and taking away their children.
He does not express any particular outrage at this scandalous state of affairs, but rather lets the statement speak for itself.
Regarding respect for the rule of law, RFK Jr. invokes the famous passage from Robert Bolt’s great 1960 play about Sir Thomas More, A Man for All Seasons (p. 97; I give the passage in its fuller original form):
[William] ROPER: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
[Thomas] MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
ROPER: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE (Roused and excited): Oh? (Advances on ROPER) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast—man’s laws, not God’s—and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
RFK Jr. has asserted that the COVID hysteria, and vaccines more generally, will not be a central theme of his campaign.
However, we are permitted to hope that his effort to persuade his fellow liberals to return to their great tradition of opposition to the abuse of power and respect for truth and the rule of law may have a salutary effect on the public life of our deeply imperiled nation.