The disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts was covered extensively by many news sources, including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News and newspapers. The use of digital traces in her hunt, interviews with locals and the inclusion of the FBI all brought new stories about her. As a photogenic young middle-American woman she was used as a representative for thousands of other missing persons cases that happen every year.
When it was discovered that her accused murderer was in the United States illegally, her recent presence in the news made her ideal for use in the border debate.
It was reported after the body was found that “some” of Tibbett’s family didn’t want her death politicized. Her aunt and her cousin were willing to speak to the press and said as much; the rest of the family simply requested privacy and time to mourn.
A week later, the father spoke, still looking for privacy but giving a hint that it might have been more than just some of the family.
“The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.”AP
That privacy was not granted. His call for peace actually ratcheted up the rhetoric.
Tuesday afternoon, a week after Mollie was found, Rob Tibbetts said he felt devastated as he listened to the message from what appeared to be a Brooklyn, Iowa, number.
Des Moines Register
It was a pre-recorded message sent from a computerized autodialer, or robocall. In it, a white nationalist called Mollie’s family traitors to their race. Rob Tibbetts thinks he was among the first to receive the message, which claimed if Mollie could be brought back to life, she would say of immigrants, “Kill them all.”
Echoing the sentiments of many, Donald Trump, Jr. submitted an anti-Democrat editorial that ran on August 31 in the Des Moines Register, calling the Democrats’ reactions heartless and despicable.
Rob Tibbetts felt compelled to make a public response, on behalf of both the family and especially his murdered daughter. He called Donald Trump, Jr.’s editorial itself heartless and despicable, thanked the politicians that stopped using Mollie’s death as a tool after the family’s request for privacy, and castigated those who continued.
The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people. To suggest otherwise is a lie. Justice in my America is blind. This person will receive a fair trial, as it should be. If convicted, he will face the consequences society has set. Beyond that, he deserves no more attention.Des Moines Register
To the Hispanic community, my family stands with you and offers its heartfelt apology. That you’ve been beset by the circumstances of Mollie’s death is wrong. We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody. And yes, we love your food.
My stepdaughter, whom Mollie loved so dearly, is Latina. Her sons — Mollie’s cherished nephews and my grandchildren — are Latino. That means I am Hispanic. I am African. I am Asian. I am European. My blood runs from every corner of the Earth because I am American. As an American, I have one tenet: to respect every citizen of the world and actively engage in the ongoing pursuit to form a more perfect union.
Among those who continued to use Tibbetts as a political tool are Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and most of the other Republican radio and television punditry. It was the Trump Administration talking point, dutifully promoted.
This tactic is not new. Using the dead to promote an agenda has been the inspiration for “Black Lives Matter” rallies throughout the country. It was done recently by neo-Nazis in Germany, as the murder of a Cuban-born German immigrant was held up as an attack on white Germans.
It is dishonest, however, to condemn the use of the dead to promote a policy supported by the deceased and the family while embracing such use to promote a policy directly contrary to the beliefs of the dead and the family. In this case, the Trump-promoting Republicans are more in line with the white supremacists than with their Democrat rivals. If they wish to hold to the principles they claim to have, they should be better than that.