After being missing for more than a month, Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was found dead recently when her alleged killer led law enforcement to her body. The man charged in her death is allegedly an undocumented immigrant and Fox News and the right-wing media complex has decided to use Tibbetts’ death to advance their racist anti-immigrant narrative. The Tibbetts’ family is pushing back against their efforts, and forcefully.
Mollie Tibbetts mother, Sandi Tibbetts Murphy, posted a strongly worded rebuke to any would-be right-wing grifters seeking to hijack their grief for their racist political narrative. Her Facebook post begins letting the conservative media know she wasn’t suffering any of their bullsh*t:
Her post starts,
No. 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.
She then re-centers the conversation around the direct cause of Mollie’s murder: toxic masculinity and male entitlement.
[Her murderer] is a man who felt entitled to impose himself on Mollie’s life, without consequence. He is a man who, because of his sense of male entitlement, refused to allow Mollie the right to reject his advances – the right to her own autonomy. Mollie was murdered because a man denied her right to say no.
Our national discussion needs to be about the violence committed in our society, mostly by men, as seen by these grim statistics from the FBI:
• 89.5% of murders are committed by men.
• 98.9% of forcible rapes are committed by men.
• 80% of violence against families and children is committed by men.
• 85% of intimate partner violence is committed by men.
We must be willing to address the way we raise our boys and young men, so that violence is not a part of their response to this world. Like the recent murders of the Colorado family or the similarly tragic homicide of Kate Steinle, Mollie’s death is further example of the toxic masculinity that exists in our society.
The Colorado murders she references are the ones Chris Watts has been charged with. Shanann Watts and her young daughters, Celeste and Bella, were found dead on her husband Chris’s work site. Shanann was pregnant, and if you want to hear a truly f*cked up statistic, murder is the number one cause of death for pregnant women.
Kate Steinle is another woman who was killed by an undocumented man after a bullet from the gun he fired ricocheted and struck her. The jury ruled her death an accident and he was acquitted, but her story was co-opted by anti-immigrant hardliners who passed “Kate’s Law” in the U.S. House to impose harsher penalties to undocumented migrants who cross the border multiple times.
Mollie Tibbetts’ father is also pushing back against the racist vitriol from right-wing immigration fear-mongers. “The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans,” he said during her funeral on Sunday. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.” According to the Des Moines Register, the crowd applauded his remarks.
And those mourning Mollie Tibbetts aren’t alone. Overall, 69% of Americans are sympathetic to undocumented immigrants (including 48% of Republicans) and only 14% are “very unsympathetic,” according to Pew. The overwhelming majority of Americans (65%) know that immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native-born Americans.
With Trump in the White House, Republicans in control of Congress, and a desperate right-wing media distortion campaign working overtime to spread ignorance and fear about undocumented immigrants, it can be easy to lose sight of those facts. I’m thankful the Tibbetts’ family isn’t lending their voices to the right-wing misinformation campaign, but I’m even more thankful they’re actively speaking against it.