It is ill-advised to descend upon our nation’s capital in a crowd of thousands of anti-vaxxers to protest vaccine mandates in the middle of an ongoing covid-19 surge, potentially exposing one’s self to the virus in question. It is also ill-advised to then compare the resistance to vaccine mandates to the plight of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who died in a concentration camp in the midst of the Holocaust.
Yet, this was exactly what famed conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. did on Sunday. By Tuesday, he was claiming he was very sorry for hurting the feelings of Holocaust survivors. Oh, and his famous wife, actress Cheryl Hines, wants you to know that she’s very disappointed in him … but not so very disappointed, as her belated Tuesday tweet implies. It’s fine, acknowledging and giving the proper gravity to the mass annihilation of over 6 million Jews is surely an apology that could wait.
For those of you who have (smartly) blocked tweets referring to any sort of Holocaust denial or casual anti-Semitism, Kennedy Jr., the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy and son of Robert F. Kennedy, was promptly and appropriately cancelled this week for telling a crowd of protestors that the plight of today’s anti-vaxxers is comparable to that of Anne Frank’s in Nazi Germany. “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland, you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” Kennedy said on Sunday. “Today, the mechanisms are being put in place that will make it so none of us can run, and none of us can hide.”
The remarks were swiftly lambasted on a widespread scale, prompting the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to issue a statement on Twitter: “Making reckless comparisons to the Holocaust, the murder of six million Jews, for a political agenda is outrageous and deeply offensive. Those who carelessly invoke Anne Frank, the star badge, and the Nuremberg Trials exploit history and the consequences of hate.”
On Monday night, Hines, who is employed by Jewish actor and director Larry David on the show “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” took her first stab at a half-hearted apology—not to address rampant divorce rumors—but to seemingly attempt to quiet vocal critics claiming she backed her husband’s stance. “My husband’s opinions are not a reflection of my own. While we love each other, we differ on many current issues,” she wrote.
The Holocaust, however, is not an “issue” that Dems and Republicans sway back and forth on: It was a harrowing moment in human history. Hines later offered a series of confusing tweets that can be best seen here, which prompted another Twitter user to suggest an alternative and more clear statement—“How about this? ‘No one should compare anything to the horrors of the Holocaust. My husband was wrong to do so.’” To that, Hines said: “Yes, I agree.”
After all of that chaotic back-and-forth, Hines finally updated her stance on Tuesday morning: “My husband’s reference to Anne Frank at a mandate rally in D.C. was reprehensible and insensitive. The atrocities that millions endured during the Holocaust should never be compared to anyone or anything. His opinions are not a reflection of my own.”
Just moments before Hines’s final statement, Kennedy finally chimed in with his own official apology: “I apologize for my reference to Anne Frank, especially to families that suffered the Holocaust horrors. My intention was to use examples of past barbarism to show the perils from new technologies of control. To the extent my remarks caused hurt, I am truly and deeply sorry.”
While Hines has distanced herself from her husband, this complex marriage of differing “opinions” (aka one is likely a Holocast denier and the other is probably not) is not unlike the dynamic between the widely despised Kelly-Anne Conway and her husband George. Anyone alive during the Trump administration will remember that George vocally opposed the Trumpian version of Republican politics, while his wife, Trump’s one-time press secretary and later advisor, bought so far into the Trumpian way she nearly destroyed both their marriage and her relationship with her teenage daughter.
Although Hines herself has not publicly said anything nearly as exploitative or twisted as her husband, her 48-hour refusal to denounce her own husband’s diminishing of the Holocaust and the mass-suffering of the Jewish people speaks volumes to her character. After all, Kennedy has apologized for similarly ignorant comments in the past, and yet, here we are again.