Mollie Tibbetts | Prompt News

Mollie Tibbetts' body was found this past week, and while many are mourning the senseless loss of an innocent young girl, Republicans have, against the families wishes, rallied about her death as a beacon for immigration reform. I wrote and shot a short piece for Prompt News on the topic which you can watch below.

Transcript:

This Tuesday, police found Mollie Tibbetts. After being missing for five weeks, the case culminated this week with her body being found in a corn field in the rural farm land of Brooklyn, Iowa. The suspect currently in ICE custody is 24-year-old Cristhian Rivera, now known to have immigrated to the country illegally. According to authorities, Rivera approached a jogging Tibbetts who rejected his advances. This caused Rivera to, in his own words, black out, only coming to later to find her body in his trunk. He would later dispose of her body in the corn field, where she was found. Words like “tragedy” and “monster” indeed immediately spring to mind. Once republicans found their way into the mix, so do words like “xenophobia” and “racism”. President Trump has, unsurprisingly, jumped on this story and dug in his heels. There are many parallels with this story and the Kate Steinle murder that Trump used to exemplify the dangers of uncontrolled illegal immigration in his 2016 presidential campaign. The Steinle case has been cited by many as having helped propel Trump to his primary election and subsequent general election victory. As is usual with our president, there is no true empathy for a deceased girl or her family, just a cheap (albeit loud) attempt to mimic the formula that produced his initial win. Republican lawmakers are, of course, having a field day. A certifiable illegal immigrant committed murder just two months shy of an election --  the opportunities to be excusably racist on television are endless. Despite the unwavering pleas of the family to not turn this into a political matter, Republicans such as Sen. Chuck Grassley have made Mollie a martyr for immigration reform, and it’s easy to see why. A young, pretty white woman from middle America is the perfect victim for the soap opera of Mexican crime versus American virtue. None of this is to undermine the tragedy of the loss of Mollie Tibbetts. But for a party whose slogan for the entirety of the gun debate has been “tragedy should not be co-opted for political ground”, its rather disingenuous to see so many Republicans use the tragic loss of a young girl to justify keeping children in cages, separating mothers from babies, and painting all people of Mexican ancestry with the same brush. Violence and aggression, a propensity towards crime, these traits are not hereditary, they are not inherited off of racial lines. The only thing different between Mollie’s case and the innumerable others featuring women losing their lives because of rejecting male advances is her attacker’s immigration status. Take away that, and Mollie Tibbetts was killed because she told a man to leave her alone while she was jogging. Websites like “when women refuse dot com” offer veritable archives of stories of women being met with violence following rejection. Mollie’s story is not all that different from Caroline Nosal, killed by Christopher O'Kroley for rejecting his romantic advances. But both Christopher and Caroline were American. So what race or group was to blame there? Mollie’s attacker may be guilty but his community is not. The actions of an individual don’t represent the values of an entire community, and the Tibbett family has, throughout this tragedy, demonstrated a better understanding of that fact than most Republican politicians. Billie Jo Calderwood, Tibbetts aunt, perhaps said it best when she said, “Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color.” Thank you for watching Prompt. Issues of toxic masculinity pervade our culture in a multitude of ways. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to make a difference, visit BWSS.org to learn about their “Teaching Positive Masculinity” classes and what sort of content they offer the young boys in their care.

Please visit BWSS.org, the Battered Woman Support Service, to read about their Teaching Positive Masculinity class and donate to help end violence against women and girls.

Samantha Singh