On Saturday, September 1, Rob Tibbetts, father of slain University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, released an Op-Ed in the Des Moines Register lashing out at figures like Don Trump Jr. for using her death to advance their political causes.
While Mollie's father was "grateful" to those who respected her family's wish to keep her death apolitical, he lashed out at people like Don Jr. who couldn't stop themselves from using a grieving family to make a point. He wrote:
Sadly, others have ignored our request. They have instead chosen to callously distort and corrupt Mollie’s tragic death to advance a cause she vehemently opposed.
Mollie Tibbetts was murdered in July after going for a run in Brooklyn, Iowa. Her body was found in August and authorities believe her killer was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. President Donald Trump, who did not call Mollie's family to offer any condolences, quickly began posting about her death on Twitter. He also spoke of her death at a political rally in West Virginia, using Mollie's murder as an excuse to push his anti-immigrant platform.
Rob Tibbetts wrote that his daughter would never have wanted her death to be used as a xenophobic political tool:
Do not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist. The act grievously extends the crime that stole Mollie from our family and is, to quote Donald Trump Jr., ‘heartless’ and ‘despicable.’
Tibbetts was inspired while writing by watching Senator John McCain's funeral:
As I write this, I am watching Sen. John McCain lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda and know that evil will succeed only if good people do nothing. Both Mollie and Sen. McCain were good people. I know that both would stand up now and do something.
Mollie's father was also sure to make people aware that his daughter's killer does not represent all undocumented immigrants:
[The man 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.
He then addressed Hispanic people all over the nation:
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.
He also noted that many members of Mollie's family, like her stepsister, are latino:
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.
In what was perhaps the most direct rebuke of President Trump himself, Tibbetts wrote about the modern Republican brand of politics which seeks to drive a wedge between Americans for political gain:
knowingly foment discord among races is a disgrace to our flag. It ... lends legitimacy to the darkest, most hate-filled corners of the American soul. It is the opposite of leadership. It is the opposite of humanity. It is heartless. It is despicable. It is shameful.
Rob Tibbetts was reportedly inspired to write the piece after reading an op-ed by Don Trump Jr. that appeared in the same paper several days earlier. His family also received a robocall from a neo-Nazi website (the same call received by countless others) which called the Tibbetts "traitors to their race," and claimed that if Mollie were alive, she would say of immigrants: "Kill them all." When Mollie's mother received the call, she "became physically ill."
It was unbelievably painful. It was everything that’s dark and wrong in America right now.
Don Jr. has not responded to Rob Tibbett's denouncement. Perhaps he and his family have finally decided to respect the family's desires. More likely, the Trumps have already moved on to the next controversy, counting on Americans to forget the last one, stoking fear and dissension amongst U.S. citizens so they can remain in power.
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