Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of Bobby Kennedy, is a conspiracy theorist and an anti-vaxxer. He's also an environmentalist lawyer, progressive talk-show host, and near-embodiment of horseshoe theory, having become something of a pin-up for Covid-era cranks.

According to Scientific American, this scion of Camelot has, since 2005, "promoted anti-vaccine propaganda completely unconnected to reality." According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, his Children's Health Defense organization claims "unvaccinated children are healthier than vaccinated children" and condemns the parents of vaccinated children for "enrolling their kids in experimental Covid vaccine trials."

On Sunday, Kennedy Jr. spoke...

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of Bobby Kennedy, is a conspiracy theorist and an anti-vaxxer. He’s also an environmentalist lawyer, progressive talk-show host, and near-embodiment of horseshoe theory, having become something of a pin-up for Covid-era cranks.

According to Scientific American, this scion of Camelot has, since 2005, “promoted anti-vaccine propaganda completely unconnected to reality.” According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, his Children’s Health Defense organization claims “unvaccinated children are healthier than vaccinated children” and condemns the parents of vaccinated children for “enrolling their kids in experimental Covid vaccine trials.”

On Sunday, Kennedy Jr. spoke at an anti-vaccine mandate rally in Washington, DC, telling the crowd, “Even in Hitler’s Germany you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did.” Expanding on his theme that Americans would soon face greater difficulty in escaping tyranny than did those persecuted by the Third Reich, he went on to say: “Today, the mechanisms are being put in place that will make it so none of us can run and none of us can hide. Within five years, we are going to see 450,000 low orbit satellites — Bill Gates has his 65,000 satellites alone — [which] will be able to look at every square inch of the planet 24 hours a day.”

In living memory, it was de rigueur for lofty newspapers and even loftier historians to portray the Kennedys as America’s liberal aristocracy, non-rhotic royalty born to rule by dint of their cheekbones and their ideals. At least the boosters of yesteryear had Jack and Bobby to work with, even if Teddy’s vehicular adventures posed some difficulties. Today, no amount of journalistic fawning or hagiographic history can maintain the myth that this clan are anything grander than the Cape Cod Kardashians.

It shouldn’t need saying that the situation in the United States does not exist in the same moral universe as that of Germany under the Nazis. It shouldn’t need saying that, actually, you couldn’t hide in an attic like Anne Frank because the Franks were eventually discovered and Anne died in Bergen-Belsen. (It also shouldn’t need saying that the Franks didn’t hide in an attic “in Hitler’s Germany,” but in Amsterdam, to where they had fled Hitler’s Germany.)

Whether you object to vaccine or mask mandates on libertarian grounds or you believe the virus, vaccines and health measures are part of a nefarious conspiracy, it’s important to remember these three things: 1) it’s not the 1930s, 2) you’re not living in terror of the Gestapo, and 3) nothing you believe is happening, not even in your most fevered imaginings, is remotely comparable to the systematic campaign to exterminate the European Jewry.

Attempts to link Covid management measures and those overseeing them to the Shoah and its perpetrators are becoming more frequent on the right, including from Republican lawmakers and Fox News hosts. The hijacking of the Yellow Star symbol is now routine at protests. The criss-crossing of anti-vaccine-mandate and anti-lockdown sentiments with far-right conspiracy theories about one-world government, planned crises and the 2020 presidential election has exposed more people to the latter and, for some, imagined confluences lend credence to content they might previously have recognized as extremist or racist.

Many conspiracy theories are or eventually become about the Jews but some are wholly separate from antisemitism. What social media has done is to unleash a great syncretic moment for conspiracism, allowing for previously discrete strands to merge, whether in their logic or simply in their mood music of paranoia. It matters less whether the Jews are the “Them” you have in mind because there are now so many ill-defined “Thems” that the more they interact, the greater the likelihood they’ll lead back to the Jews in the end.

Yet the same social media that makes this possible also makes it possible to be better informed in real time than any previous generation about the scale of global antisemitism. It is, or in theory should be, easier to know that 60 percent of religious hate crimes in the United States are against Jews; that Canadian Jews, who make up 1 percent of the country’s population, are on the receiving end of 15 percent of its hate crimes; that antisemitism accounts for one in four religious hate crimes in Sweden, where Jews make up 0.1 percent of the population. It should be easier than ever to know about Colleyville and MonseyOxford Street and the north London convoyHar Nof and the Hypercacher.

Education is the oft-heard solution to antisemitism, yet as social media has made it possible to be better educated about the persecution of Jews, it has also made possible a radicalization that leads people to claim the mantle of this persecution for themselves and to diminish, distort and demean the memory of the ultimate symbol of antisemitism in the process. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may be a crackpot but crackpots are becoming less lonely by the day.