A grieving father rejects official racism
Rob Tibbetts, whose daughter Mollie was murdered by a Mexican immigrant, does not want his daughter's death to be used to further a racist agenda.
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In times of darkness, any ray of light is a blessing, especially if it is as bright as the one Rob Tibbetts, the father of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year old college student murdered in Iowa, illuminated the country with on the first day of this month.
When racism, mendacity, xenophobia, misogyny and demagoguery are the president’s defining characteristics, and promoting racial hatred and discrimination is his disgraceful modus operandi, the honesty and courage of men like Tibbetts is a much-needed breath of fresh air. Tibbetts’ rejection of bigotry and xenophobia reassures the people of this country – the good people, of course — that, even if absent from the White House and most of Congress, decency has not died, courage has not disappeared, principled human beings willing to take a stand for what they believe even in the most trying of times in their own lives, are not extinct.
By now you are probably aware that Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a Mexican immigrant said to be undocumented, stands accused of killing the college student, a horribly tragic circumstance bigoted politicians and fascist groups have rushed to exploit in order to advance their hateful anti-immigrant agenda. Shamefully, the very same day her body was discovered last month, the president himself used Mollie’s death to lie about immigrant crime and stir up his supporters’ fears at a rally in West Virginia.
Bigotry seems to run in the family and Trump’s eldest son, who like his father had no regard for Mollie’s parents’ pain, wrote an op-ed blaming Democrats for her death that was published Friday in the Des Moines Register. His words brought a strong and moving response from Tibbetts.
“(Some politicians and pundits) have 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 grieving father wrote in a column the Des Moines Register published Saturday.
“My stepdaughter, whom Mollie loved so dearly, is Latina,” Tibbetts wrote. “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.”
Not willing to allow Trump and his minions use his daughter’s death as a pawn in their dishonest racist ploy, Tibbetts added: “The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community than white supremacists are of all white people.”
Tibbetts, who in the midst of his grief for a daughter he called “his best friend” found the presence of mind to reject all dishonest attempts to distort her memory, wasn’t finished.
“Given that,” he added, “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.”
Yes, it is all that and more. Which is why the coming midterm elections are so important. After all, “they” may have the political power now, but, as Tibbetts’ moving message reassured the nation, there are enough people with the courage and the principles to take power back from them. All is needed is for everybody to vote on November 6.