Mollie Tibbetts, a young woman from Iowa, went missing last month and her body was found recently when Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who has been charged with her murder, led authorities to it in a cornfield. According to local law enforcement, Rivera is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, but his lawyer disputes these claims, insisting he was working in the U.S. legally. Those are the facts, as we understand them, of the incident.
Of course, the facts, including his technical legal status, don’t matter to Republicans seeking to politicize Tibbetts’ death in their effort to paint undocumented Americans as a criminal menace which must be rooted out.
The White House used Tibbetts’ death to roll out a slickly produced video that doubled as a ham-fisted rebuttal to criticisms of the Trump administration’s vile family separation policy. (Which is a little odd, since they’ve ceased the policy, although there are still over 500 children who haven’t been reunited with their parents.)
For 34 days, investigators searched for 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. Yesterday, an illegal alien, now charged with first-degree murder, led police to the cornfield where her body was found.
The Tibbetts family has been permanently separated. They are not alone. pic.twitter.com/BBskwHEJoU
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 22, 2018
Your tax dollars at work, folks!
Because the Republican Party is so thoroughly marinated in the fetid right-wing fever swamp water, the usual scam artists were already exploiting the tragedy in the service of their hateful agenda.
Kanye West’s new BFF Candace Owens, who got her taste for grifting during the right-wing sh*t fit known as “Gamergate” (albeit on the “social justice warrior” side, initially), was one of the first on the scene. Owens was so anguished over Mollie Tibbetts’ death she failed to spell her name right in her first tweet on the subject.
Unfortunately for Owens, one of Tibbetts’ cousins saw her disgusting exploitation for what it is and called her out.
Operating in the shame-free zone that is Republican politics, Owens took being called out as an opportunity to attack the family member of a murder victim.
Now, ordinarily, it would stop there. Unfortunately, dear reader, it did not. Owens kept piling on, determined to have the last word in her Twitter spat with, again, the mourning family member of a murdered woman.
And another member of Tibbetts’ family has condemned the effort to use her death to advance a racist agenda. Tibbetts’ aunt posted this plea on Facebook:
She also shared a post from another woman, which read:
What happened to Mollie was an awful, heinous act. But please do not compound the atrocity of what happened to her by adding racism and hate to the equation. Everyone joined together supporting her family, providing food & drink to search parties & agents, hung posters, searched fields, worked TOGETHER to make #FindMollieTibbetts #findingmollietibbetts #bringmolliehome go viral! Her story was shared around the world! Do not turn #molliesmovement into something ugly. Anyone that knew Mollie knows she wouldn’t want that. Respect each other, support each other but most importantly BE KIND!
I don’t want to be accused of exploiting Mollie Tibbetts’ cousin’s grief any more than Owens exploited Mollie Tibbetts’ death, so (just like I started) I’ll end with some facts: Immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. Cherry-picking statistics and exploiting bereaved families won’t change those facts.
Mollie Tibbetts’ death was a tragedy; compounding that tragedy by punishing millions of innocent people would be a travesty.