Content warning: This piece quotes racist slurs.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s group Children’s Health Defense sought support from users of the far-right social media platform Gab in 2021, including white supremacists, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and an open neo-Nazi.
Those users have written things including “White people are kings. F--- jews. n--s are animals”; “Against Jewish Control”; and, regarding Nazi Germany: “This is what the Jewish controlled system does not want us to see. When we kick them out and place our value on our own people, we thrive.”
Kennedy is the founder, chair, and chief litigation counsel for Children’s Health Defense, one of the key spreaders of misinformation about vaccines and COVID-19. He is on leave from the group during his presidential campaign. Kennedy has frequently attempted to appeal to right-wing audiences during his run, as evidenced by his campaign site featuring interviews with Elon Musk, Laura Ingraham, Megyn Kelly, and Breitbart News.
Children’s Health Defense has been using Gab to recruit followers since January 2021. Its profile says it is part of Gab Pro, which is a subscription-based program. CHD has posted to the site over 1,500 times and has touted its account as a way to “fight censorship.”
Gab is a social media platform that caters to those deemed too extreme for Twitter and Facebook. Its user base is populated with numerous antisemites, neo-Nazis, and white nationalists. Many of them express hatred toward and issue violent threats against Jewish people. In 2018, a Gab user allegedly killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.
The Stanford Internet Observatory analyzed content on Gab and concluded in a June 2022 report that “extreme anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic content is rife, with open praise of Nazism, encouragement of violence against minorities, and ‘Great Replacement’ narratives.”
Andrew Torba is the site’s founder and CEO. He is a virulent antisemite who has said that Jewish people have too much political power and are not welcome in his preferred political movement: “We don't want people who are Jewish.” He has also reposted praise of Gab as a place where people can find “differing opinions” on the Holocaust.
Media outlets have scrutinized Gab’s links to antisemitism and white supremacy, especially after failed Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano paid Torba for campaign “consulting.” But Kennedy’s ties to Gab through his organization have previously gone unreported.
CHD’s pointed engagement with the antisemitic platform comes as observers have noted a general increase in antisemitism in the U.S., especially online. Misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic has also worsened the problem. Kennedy received criticism in January 2022 after he said during an anti-vaccine rally: “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps to Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.”
In addition to maintaining an active Gab account, CHD has repeatedly engaged with users who are antisemites and white supremacists. The group also conducted outreach to a neo-Nazi account. Below are numerous examples from 2021:
CHD asked Gab founder and virulent antisemite Andrew Torba to “follow + support” Kennedy and his group. CHD has reached out to Torba (username “a”) to appeal for support, writing on Gab: “@a Please follow + support Children's Health Defense and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. #Freespeech is yet again under attack.” The organization also promoted an event in Torba’s replies and repeatedly sent him links to its website.
CHD reached out to a former Gab officer who has expressed hatred of Jewish people (“They gotta go. Now”) and support for enslaving Black people. CHD posted a link to its website to “shadowknight412.” The group also tagged that account, along with Gab’s Help account, in asking for “help with analytics for our account.” The shadowknight412 account belongs to Gab’s former chief technology officer Rob Colbert. In more recent posts, he has made clear his hatred for Jewish and Black people. He’s written: “I don't have any questions about why my ancestors kept these retarded man-like creatures locked in sheds with metal collars on their necks that had bells on them. #N-----Bells”; and “N-----s. If only there was a whole continent they could go live on and not have to worry about fitting in with western civilization and our traditions/laws.”
He is also an antisemite who has written, “I don't want to be around ridiculous jews”; “The jew is basically parasitic drag. And engineering has ways of mitigating that”; and “It's always some rat-faced jew. They are schizophrenic and violent. They gotta go. Now. The jew needs to be removed from American education, media, government, finance, and law.”
CHD shared a link to its website with someone whose account states: “F--- jews. n--s are animals.” CHD responded to an anti-vaccine post by “Ytram” by sharing a link to its website. That account states in its “about” page: “White people are kings. F--- jews. n--s are animals.”
CHD reached out to a neo-Nazi account. CHD responded to an anti-vaccine post by “WesternChauvinist1” by posting a link to its website. That account features two SS bolts as its header image with the “14 words,” a white supremacist slogan.
It posts pro-Nazi propaganda, including praising Hitler for being “the only world leader to ever arrest a Rothschild”; claiming that “National Socialism took the German economy from a debt based depression, to a country with the highest standard of living in the world” and “National Socialists valued their own people and Nation as their most prized possession”; and concluding of Jewish people: “This is what the Jewish controlled system does not want us to see. When we kick them out and place our value on our own people, we thrive. When we allow their central banks and debt systems in our homelands, we are reduced to consumers and tax cattle.”
CHD shared a link to its website with an account that’s “against Jewish control.” CHD responded to an anti-vaccine post by “Stevevvs,” which states in its about page that it is “Against Jewish Control.”
CHD posted a link in the comments section of a white supremacist account. CHD responded to an anti-vaccine post by “PoisonDartPepe” by sharing a link to its website. That account’s pinned post is a screenshot of a social media post defending white supremacy; it states: “What they call White supremacy is really just White dignity. The dignity of a homeland. The dignity of cultural integrity. The dignity of communal pride. When they say they want to smash White supremacy it means they want to destroy your dignity as a people and humiliate you.” The account recently stated of Jewish people: “They should stay here in prison forever. A handful might have execution worthy crimes. But the rest - just throw them in gen pop with the n-----s.” Pepe is a common meme name used by the alt-right and white nationalist movement.
CHD also shared links to its website to QAnon influencer Neon Revolt; far-right cartoonist Ben Garrison, who has a history of promoting QAnon, “Pizzagate,” and antisemitism; and far-right bigot Milo Yiannopoulos.