One of the most salient moments from Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s (D-Mass.) response to State of the Union address came when he rebuked President Trump’s promise to build a wall along the Mexican border in an attempt to stop illegal immigration:
America, we carry that story on our shoulders. […]
You probably marched together last weekend, thousands deep, on the streets of Las Vegas and Philadelphia and Nashville. You sat high atop your mom’s shoulders and held a sign that read “Build a wall and my generation will tear it down.”
There are a number of problems with using this photograph to paint Kennedy as a hypocrite for promising to tear down a border wall.
Chiefly, this is not Joe Kennedy’s house, and hasn’t been in the Kennedy family’s holdings for more than 20 years. This property was purchased by Joseph P. Kennedy Sr., Joe Kennedy III’s great grandfather, in 1933, but the property hasn’t been in the Kennedy family for more than two decades. The Kennedy family sold the property in 1995, when Kennedy III was just 14 years old, according to the New York Times:
The Kennedy days in Palm Beach quietly ended today with the sale of the oceanfront property that Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. bought in 1933 as a vacation spot and that later became his son’s winter White House and eventually a symbol of the family’s troubles.
Claiming that the pictured wall was designed to keep people off the property is also misleading.
Kennedy’s critics may be under the impression that a wall’s sole purpose is to keep immigrants from crossing a border, but walls have several other purposes—especially in coastal Florida, where hurricanes are known to wreak havoc. In this case, this wall is a seawall designed to keep the ocean, not undocumented immigrants, from damaging the property.
This house is located on Palm Beach, just a few feet from the ocean. A view of the property from Google Earth shows that a sea wall also protects neighboring properties:
It’s true that this photograph shows a wall outside of a house. However, this house does not belong to Joe Kennedy III (and hasn’t been owned by his family since 1995) and the pictured wall is a sea wall, not a border wall, designed to protect the house from the ocean tides.
- A previous version of this article stated that Kennedy Sr. sold the estate in 1995, but Kennedy Sr. passed away years earlier in 1969. The house was owned by more than a dozen members of the Kennedy family and a trust at the time of its sale.
The New York Times. “Kennedys Sell Family House in Palm Beach.”
24 May 1995.