In a disgusting show of political parasitism, the Trump administration and all its far-right media tentacles have seized on the tragic death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts to push an anti-immigrant message, completely ignoring the wishes of family members who would prefer to mourn in peace.
Tibbetts was murdered by 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera after refusing his advances. Authorities claim Rivera was working in the country as an undocumented immigrant, using falsified employment documents. The xenophobes on the right have in turn used the murder as a cudgel against all undocumented immigrants, painting millions of hard-working, innocent people as violent criminals.
Of course, Rivera’s monstrous behavior is not indicative of the larger population of undocumented immigrants, any more than any other heartless murderer represents his or her larger ethnic group. Individuals must be held accountable for their actions.
Now, another member of Mollie Tibbett’s family has responded to the conservative exploitation of her death with a letter, condemning the “racist, false narrative” being peddled. Mollie’s cousin Sandi Tibbetts Murphy says the family is “reclaiming” Mollie from the people attempting to usurp her legacy for their own political purposes.
Tibbetts Murphy adds that whether or not the murderer was a legal immigrant or not is irrelevant. What really matters is that he was a man who felt entitled to her, who refused to accept her rejection and instead lashed out violently. She included a number of statistics related to men committing violent crimes and murder, pointing out that this nation has a culture of toxic male entitlement that is having daily, serious consequences.
STATEMENT FROM MOLLIE TIBBETTS’S FAMILY:
No, no and no.
Especially for those of you who did not know her in life, you do not get to usurp Mollie and her legacy for your racist, false narrative now that she is no longer with us. We hereby reclaim our Mollie.” pic.twitter.com/axnhHKHIJI
— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) August 27, 2018
The letter is powerful and an act of true bravery by Tibbetts’s cousin. She could have easily fallen into the trap of blaming a larger group for the tragedy but has instead chosen to stand up for what her cousin truly believed.
Mollie’s memory will serve as a brave call to action, a challenge to a dangerous culture of toxic masculinity and, judging by her family’s words, that’s exactly what she would have wanted.