Most families have their flash points. It seems inevitable. Strong, healthy families overcome the fault lines. Many do not. Relationships dissipate.
Money is often the catalyst. But not always. Feuds may have their roots in childhood to slights never forgotten. Psychic wounds may be too deep-seated to heal, even with age and maturity.
Throw in political disputes, and reconciliation becomes highly questionable. This is particularly true in today’s toxic climate. As a source of information/disinformation, Fox TV draws conservative devotees and nauseates liberals and moderates; hence, information sources differ markedly.
The political schism widens.
The dynastic Kennedy family, whose legacy bearers include a president, an attorney general and U.S. senator, a longtime senator, members of Congress and a lieutenant governor, is dealing uncomfortably and dispiritedly with a family member spouting ridiculous conspiracy theories.
He is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who is running for president in the Democratic primary. His family members, including siblings, a nephew and cousins, are outraged at his comments and saying so.
Supportive of President Biden, his sister, Kerry, for example, among other clan members, questions his views about anti-Covid vaccines, as does his wife, Cheryl Hines. The latter took umbrage at her husband’s comment that Holocaust victim, Anne Frank, endured better conditions than those forced to wear masks and abide by Covid restrictions.
The close-knit Kennedy family is frayed. Known for its unity, the Kennedy clan is cutting loose with criticism. As a long-time admirer of this gifted family, with its commitment to public service and good works, I am dismayed. Bobby Kennedy is drawing attention for cockeyed notions.
Most recently, Bobby Jr opined that Covid-19 was targeted at protecting Jews and Chinese and harming Caucasians and Blacks. At first blush, the theory is absurd. At second blush, it is full of blatant anti-semitism and bigotry toward the Chinese.
The unrestrained Kennedy said that Wi-Fi causes cancer and ‘” leaky brain.’” Anti-depressants lead to school shootings. Chemicals in the water supply could change the gender of children.
Family members have drawn the line. And so have others long devoted to the Kennedy family.
Upon further reflection, I conflate my disdain for Kennedy’s conspiratorial theories with my utter disgust for our former president’s deranged perspective on the 2020 presidential election. A comparison between Trump and a Kennedy would seem inconceivable—except in today’s confounding world.
If gaining media attention and campaign dollars are RFK’S objectives, he is succeeding. I trust he did not intend to blemish his family’s reputation and draw approbation. He has done just that. He seems oblivious to the damage.
The Kennedys are not saintly. Their flaws are abundantly apparent. Their luster has dimmed. Nonetheless, adjectives such as “crazy” and “unhinged” normally do not apply, as they easily characterize Bobby Kennedy.
Political campaigns can bring out the worst in aspiring candidates. They feel empowered to utter ridiculous statements, if only to feed their supporters and stir media interest. They are intentional, sometimes dangerously so, in sowing fear and hatred. Though irresponsible, it can be effective.
I fully admit my admiration for the Kennedy family, beginning when I was a young teen. Though revelations over the years about personal behavior have dulled my adulation, I deeply respect their strong commitment to making our country and world a little better. Their sincerity is unquestioned.
Kennedy Jr. is embarrassing himself with his adoption of weird conspiracy theories. His utterances undermine his credibility. He travels the same twisted lane as Trump. The comparison brings no value.
He is besmirching the Kennedy name. That fact may be the worst cut of all for me.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. After 44 years in Easton, Howard and his wife, Liz, moved in November 2020 to Annapolis, where they live with Toby, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel who has no regal bearing, just a mellow, enticing disposition.