Mollie Tibbetts’ Father Pleads for an End to the Politicization of His Daughter’s Death

Illustration for article titled Mollie Tibbetts’ Father Pleads for an End to the Politicization of His Daughter’s Deathem/em
Photo: Charlie Neibergall (AP)

The two op-eds, published one day apart in the Des Moines Register, stand in stark contrast: one written by a president’s son politicizing a tragedy; the other, a plea by a grieving father for decency and an end to the politicization of his daughter’s death.


In a column published Friday, Donald Trump Jr. called the Democrats’ reaction to the murder of Mollie Tibbetts in a rural, Iowa farming community by an allegedly undocumented immigrant “heartless” and “despicable.” It is the type of screed one might expect from such a thoughtless and entitled person who—like his father in the White House—appears incapable of human compassion and empathy toward others who don’t look or act like him.

“The mask is off and the true radical face of the Democrats has been exposed,” Trump Jr. wrote. “They are seemingly more concerned with protecting their radical open-borders agenda than the lives of innocent Americans.”


The president’s son offered a litany of standard “Trumper” talking points, including a mischaracterization of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s comments about the murder, the tired lie that Democrats are conspiring for open borders, an attack against a CNN commenter’s appropriate observation on “toxic masculinity.”

In the wake of Tibbetts’ death, Trump Jr. alleges, Democrats have embarked on a conspiracy to obfuscate the truth, fearful it would confirm and embolden the Trump family’s justification for continued and relentless attacks on immigrants and people of color.

Trump Jr. wrote:

Liberal media outlets went through great pains to cover the story without actually covering the story. Instead of truthful headlines such as “Illegal immigrant arrested in connection with murder of Mollie Tibbetts,” multiple outlets ran headlines such as “Man arrested in connection to disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts.” They don’t want you to know what happened to her — and they certainly don’t want you to know who is responsible.

Worse still, a number of media outlets and pundits insisted that conservatives and Republicans were “politicizing” Mollie’s murder — an absurd claim coming from the same people who used family separation at the border to call for the abolishment of ICE and jump at the opportunity to exploit any tragedy involving guns to call for the end of the Second Amendment as we know it.


There are many casualties of the “left’s love for open borders,” he continued, which have “left a trail of human wreckage…”

It’s dark stuff, coming from the truly dark place that is Donald Trump Jr.’s mind.


On Saturday, Mollie Tibbetts’ father, Rob Tibbetts, responded in the same newspaper by bringing some much-needed light—despite his own suffering—and a plea for decency.

“At the outset, politicians and pundits used Mollie’s death to promote various political agendas. We appealed to them and they graciously stopped. For that, we are grateful,” Tibbetts 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. I encourage the debate on immigration; there is great merit in its reasonable outcome. But 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.’”


“Please leave us out of your debate,” he added.

“Allow us to grieve in privacy and with dignity. At long last, show some decency. On behalf of my family and Mollie’s memory, I’m imploring you to stop.”


Regarding his daughter’s alleged killer, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a local farmhand, Tibbetts said, “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.”

He added:

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.


He then issued a call to “turn against racism in all its ugly manifestations both subtle and overt. Let’s turn toward each other with all the compassion we gave Mollie. Let’s listen, not shout. Let’s build bridges, not walls. Let’s celebrate our diversity rather than argue over our differences. I can tell you, when you’ve lost your best friend, differences are petty and meaningless.”

Read Tibbetts’ entire column.

Weekend Editor, Splinter

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