Monday, July 24, 2023

Body Language Analysis №4714: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Antisemitic and Racist Statements - Nonverbal and Emotional Intelligence


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. testified at a US House of Representatives hearing regarding “social media and alleged censorship” last week.

During his testimony, Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-NY10) played a video of Robert F. Kennedy Jr making a statement regarding COVID-19 at an event earlier in the week in New York City.

What follows is a Body Language analysis of a crucial portion of that second video (the video within the video, link above).

Beginning at 3:15:14, we see a brief clip of Robert Kennedy speaking (our view of video [but not audio] is slightly truncated) where Kennedy says, “[COVID-19] is targeted to attack ah caucasians and — ah, and ah and ah black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and ah, and Chinese.”

Kennedy has Spasmodic Dysphonia — a disorder in which the muscles that generate a person’s voice go into periods of spasm.

It’s common for people who have Spasmodic Dysphonia to exhibit a superimposed stuttering-like speech (this arises from a different etiology from that of common stuttering).

While Kennedy exhibits prominent stuttering-like behavior during this statement, it’s impossible for us to determine whether this is related strictly to his Spasmodic Dysphonia — or if it arises from anxiety unrelated to his vocal cord disorder.


As soon as Kennedy begins to speak his second sentence (“The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and ah, and Chinese”), he crosses his right arm-hand across his lower chest. 

Watch carefully — Kennedy’s right arm had already been across his lap (a variation of a fig leaf/genital guarding — signaling low emotional confidence and the need for protection) — but he lifted it higher to the level of his lower chest. 

It’s crucial to note here that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is right-handed.

Kennedy’s right (dominant) arm/hand across his lower chest is protective. This is a self-hugging/self-comforting/self-soothing posture (w/ our obstructed view, we can’t say for sure, but his right hand/fingers is probably palm-side-flat against his side, not in a fist).


Kennedy’s left hand/arm (non-dominant) then gestures in a brief index finger-point hand-chop gesture (as he says “most”).

A person who truly believes what they’re saying would be gesturing with their dominant hand — not their non-dominant hand, as Kennedy does here. They also wouldn’t need their dominant hand-arm to protect and self-hug.

We could stop this analysis right here: Kennedy does not believe what he’s saying here.

He does not believe that Ashkenazi Jews or Chinese are somehow protected from the COVID-19 virus.

An additional nuance to this gesture (whether it’s being displayed with the dominant or non-dominant hand) is that the finger-point hand chop dynamic carries with it an additional correlation with deception.


Kennedy then transitions to two successive finger-splayed gestures — first, palm down … 


… and then with his palm angled ~45º he gestures — again this gesture was performed with his left (non-dominant) hand in motion. Again, displaying with his non-dominant hand signals his lack of belief in his own claims. 


Note also that Kennedy’s eyelids are closed during much of these two sentences. Prolonged eyelid closure (one form of diminished eye contact) is highly correlated with deception. 

Note also Kennedy’s increased rate of blinking. Taken alone, an increased blinking frequency does not indicate deception — but it is strongly correlated with anxiety (which may or may not be associated with deception). But here, we take this finding in full-context.


Had the House of Representatives viewing of this recent video been allowed to run less than a second more, we would have also seen Kennedy cover his mouth with his left hand (simultaneously with eyelid closure) immediately after he says, “Chinese”. 

Mouth covering, particularly when there’s co-existing eyelid closure, during a declarative statement (or whilst answering a question) is high-correlative with deception.

There are multiple other deceptive body language and paralanguage tells exhibited by Robert F. Kennedy Jr during the longer version of this video referenced in this US House of Representatives hearing.

SUMMARY: Robert F. Kennedy Jr does not believe that Ashkenazi Jews or Chinese are somehow protected from the COVID-19 virus, nor does he believe that the virus was “targeted to attack caucasians or black people”. He is lying.

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This post and others accompanying it, serve as a reference source for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the author. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc., are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts.