Responding to continued efforts by President Donald Trump and right-wing media outlets to exploit the horrific murder of 20-year-old Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts to push their racist, anti-immigrant agenda, Tibbetts' father penned an op-ed on Saturday denouncing those who have "chosen to callously distort and corrupt Mollie's tragic death to advance a cause she vehemently opposed."
"Do not appropriate Mollie's soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist."
"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," Rob Tibbetts wrote in the local Des Moines Register. "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."
While Tibbetts does not mention the president in his column, he does highlight a Des Moines Register op-ed written by Donald Trump Jr. on Friday, in which the president's eldest son did precisely what the Tibbetts family has been pleading with public figures not to do: He blamed Mollie Tibbetts' murder by an apparent undocumented immigrant on Democratic policies.
As a counter to this right-wing opportunism, Rob Tibbetts urged Americans to "turn against racism in all its ugly manifestations both subtle and overt."
Tibbetts went on to rebuke those who "knowingly foment discord among races," noting that this "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."
"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," Tibbetts concluded. "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."