Let me get this out now and loud: Murders of people are always horrible, ALWAYS. As a parent of two children, it’s beyond sympathy for me to read in the news that the lives of young children or young adults in their prime are being cut down. It truly hurts.
A vibrant and promising 20-year old girl with the name of Mollie Tibetts was killed a few weeks ago in the small farming town of Brooklyn, Iowa. Mollie was a college student at University of Iowa. She disappeared in July while jogging around her neighborhood. A suspect with the name of Cristhian Rivera, an illegal immigrant, was apprehended and held in jail waiting for trial.
One would think this kind of cruelty was bad enough in and of itself, to Mollie, to her parents, to her family, to her small community. No,
it gets worse. Some people are using her murder — from the unraveling resident at the White House to some fringe, white supremacist groups — to smear all illegal immigrants with the same tar. (Fact check: Undocumented immigrants as a group commit fewer crimes than the American populace at large.)
I’m not going to repeat the venomous speeches and robocalls some racists made after Mollie’s death. But at the risk of copyright infringement, I’d like to repeat what her father Rob Mollie said to us. Mr. Tibbetts, I don’t know you or your beautiful girl, but I admire your calm and courage in the face of the worst and most unimaginable tragedy for you and your family. God bless Mollie and God bless your family.
Mr. Tibbetts wrote in the Des Moine Register on September 1, 2018:
Ten days ago, we learned that Mollie would not be coming home. Shattered, my family set out to celebrate Mollie’s extraordinary life and chose to share our sorrow in private. 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.
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.〃
Make no mistake, Mollie was my daughter and my best friend. At her eulogy, I said Mollie was nobody’s victim. Nor is she a pawn in others’ debate. She may not be able to speak for herself, but I can and will. Please leave us out of your debate. 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.
Throughout this ordeal I’ve asked myself, ¨What would Mollie do?〃 As I write this, I am watching Sen. John McCain lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda and know that evil will succeed only if good people do nothing. Both Mollie and Senator McCain were good people. I know that both would stand up now and do something.
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. Justice in my America is blind. This person will receive a fair trial, as it should be. If convicted, he will face the consequences society has set. Beyond that, he deserves no more attention.
To the Hispanic community, my family stands with you and offers its heartfelt apology. That you’ve been beset by the circumstances of Mollie’s death is wrong. We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody. And yes, we love your food.
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.
Given that, to knowingly foment discord among races is a disgrace to our flag. It incites fear in innocent communities and lends legitimacy to the darkest, most hate-filled corners of the American soul. It is the opposite of leadership. It is the opposite of humanity. It is heartless. It is despicable. It is shameful.
We have the opportunity now to take heed of the lessons that Mollie, John McCain and Aretha Franklin taught – humanity, fairness and courage. For most of the summer, the search for Mollie brought this nation together like no other pursuit. There was a common national will that did transcend opinion, race, gender and geography. Let’s not lose sight of that miracle. Let’s not lose sight of Mollie.
Instead, let’s 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.
My family remains eternally grateful to all those who adopted Mollie so completely and showered us with so much care, compassion and generosity. Please accept our desire to remain private as we share our loss. We love Mollie with all our hearts and miss her terribly. We need time.
To the hate mongers and bigots, let me add this: I know hate is a powerful unifier, among you folks anyway. But really, take a deep breath, look into the mirror, and tell yourself: I am beautiful as Mollie and I can be as good as she was.
Unless you belong to a native tribe, you, the Tibbetts and I are all immigrants here. It’s time to free yourself from the pillory of hate and forsake the prison of isolation. Join the United Natives and Immigrants of America. We welcome you.
*** The End ***
(The dissemination of this writing is for non-commercial enjoyment only. The author reserves the copyright for himself)