Monday Morning Thoughts: Tibbetts Family Wants No Part of This Debate


The tragic death of Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa has become another story that has been a lightening rod for the immigration debate.  But from the start, the family has made it clear that they want no part of this.

Her father, Rob Tibbetts, on Saturday wrote an op-ed in the Des Moines Register, which blasted those, including Donald Trump, Jr., who used his daughter’s death as a talking point in the immigration debate.

In the op-ed, Mr. Tibbetts indicated that many had honored their call to stop using her death “to promote various political agendas.” But, he wrote, “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.”

He writes: “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.’”

Authorities claim that Cristhian Rivera is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.  That prompted President Trump to use the case in his push for a border wall.  A number of family and friends have spoken out against the politicization of Mollie’s death.

Mr. Tibbetts, in an interview with the Des Moines paper, told them, as he had in his op-ed, that anti-immigration was a cause that she “vehemently opposed.”

The paper reports:  “Some of the anti-immigrant views Mollie would have considered profoundly racist have been sent straight to her father’s phone. Tuesday afternoon, a week after Mollie was found, Rob Tibbetts said he felt devastated as he listened to the message from what appeared to be a Brooklyn, Iowa, number.

“It was a pre-recorded message sent from a computerized autodialer, or robocall. In it, a white nationalist called Mollie’s family traitors to their race. Rob Tibbetts thinks he was among the first to receive the message, which claimed if Mollie could be brought back to life, she would say of immigrants, ‘Kill them all.'”

The tragic case of Mollie Tibbetts has received national attention after she was reported missing.  Last month, 24-year-old Rivera was arrested and charged with murder in connection with her death.

At her eulogy, Mr. Tibbetts said, “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.”

He continues: “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.”

Mr. Tibbetts addresses 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.”

He continued: “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,” Mr. Tibbetts writes. “It is the opposite of humanity. It is heartless. It is despicable. It is shameful.”

He continued: “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.”

In addition to President Trump, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, also issued a statement, “We are angry that a broken immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community, and we will do all we can (to) bring justice to Mollie’s killer.”

Mr. Tibbetts concludes: “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.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Join us on October 27 as attorney Matt Gonzalez speaks about a similar case out of San Francisco, involved a killing by an undocumented immigrant.  For more details, click here.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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36 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: Tibbetts Family Wants No Part of This Debate”

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Really? The immediate reason this was even on people’s radar was Fox News’ coverage of it (when everyone else was covering Cohen and Manafort) and Trump’s tweet. The Governor of Iowa also put out that message on the day of the arrest (August 21), so I think you’re assessment is false.

        1. David Greenwald

          Proven wrong on the first point, you pivot slightly, but I think it’s still factually incorrect.  I haven’t seen a lot from the left on this other than the pleas by the family.  Please demonstrate your point.

        2. David Greenwald

          1. Fox News covered it first

          2. Trump tweeted it and raised it at a rally

          3. As Don demonstrated, you and Jeff were the ones who first mentioned it on here. No one else did for 10 days.

          I don’t see anywhere where the left is pushing this issue (I asked you to demonstrate that, silence).

    2. Don Shor

      You and Jeff are the ones who have brought it up on the Vanguard.

      Keith O
      It looks like an illegal alien killed Mollie Tibbetts, how about her rights?
      2018/08/21 at 9:04 pm

    1. Dave Hart

      There is no debate.  It was made an issue by Fox, then Trump.  The Tibbits family does not want Fox and Trump to make it an issue.  The debate is whether Fox and Trump should have made it an issue in the first place.  Worthy of discussion even if uncomfortable.

  1. Keith O

    Tibbetts Family Wants No Part of This Debate  thus we should not  debate it on DV

    Jerry, you make a great point here.  If David thinks everyone should honor the father’s wishes why was this article even written which invites debate and commenting?

  2. Ron

    Quote from article:  “He continued: “We have the opportunity now to take heed of the lessons that Mollie, John McCain and Aretha Franklin taught — humanity, fairness and courage.”

    During a recent conversation with someone I know, we both noted that the death of John McCain seems to be “politicized” (against Trump).  (Neither the other person nor I support Trump, but we couldn’t help but notice the amount of media attention regarding McCain’s death, along with reports of his relationship with Trump.)

    I don’t remember any other senator’s death receiving this amount of attention (with the possible exception of Ted Kennedy). But then again, he was a “Kennedy”.

    Does anyone even remember when McGovern died? (Like McCain, McGovern was also the presidential nominee for a major political party.)

      1. Ron

        Keith:  That’s what my friend and I see, and we’re both left-leaning, overall.  (My friend truly despises Trump, but immediately recognized what is occurring regarding McCain’s death.)

        1. Keith O

          Oh please, McCain and Trump went at it constantly and McCain’s vote to save Obamacare was one of his final jabs even though McCain ran on a platform of getting rid of ACA.  The left now puts McCain on a pedestal but it wasn’t that way 10 years ago when he ran for president.

        2. Ron

          The “left” is using references to McCain and Bush, due to their hatred of Trump.  Note that the (admittedly brief) quoted citation above (regarding McCain) is apparently from Mr. Tibbett.

          One can have either “left” or “right”-leaning views, and still (honestly) recognize what is occurring – even if done by their “own side”.  Being honest increases political integrity, rather than detracting from it.

          Again, neither my friend nor I are Trump supporters. But, it’s pretty obvious how the media are handling McCain’s death.

    1. Eric Gelber

      Ted Kennedy and John McCain were both central figures in the Senate at the time of their deaths. McGovern died 40 years after he ran for President and 30 years after leaving office.

      Trump’s own pettiness, personal insults, and snubs of McCain up to and following his death made drawing comparisons inevitable—by those all along the political spectrum.

      1. Ron

        Eric:  Those are good points.  Of course, it’s not in Republicans’ interests to draw such comparisons.  When the media (constantly) focuses upon the comparison, they are “supporting” the Democratic/left-leaning “agenda” – whether they intend to, or not. (Opposing Trump’s goals is a large part of that agenda.)

        The “bias” of the media is always open to interpretation. Certainly, Trump has been like no other president, including other conservative presidents.


  3. Jeff M

    Conservatives who have a moral filter for sanctity of life and also on law and order absolutely are right to bring political attention to this brutal and unnecessary death.  Guess what?  Illegal immigration is a political issue.  Just ask sanctuary California and all its liberal sanctuary cities.

    With all due respect to the father here (who’s opinions I respect), this isn’t just about him and his dead daughter… this is about all American daughters and all their parents.

    And this cry about Trump and conservatives exploiting this event for politics is a glaring pile of dog doo hypocrisy given Obama’s and all leading Democrats in Congress consistent efforts to exploit every gun killing done by a young white male for their liberal political agenda to destroy American’s Second Amendment rights.

    Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was murdered in the Parkland school shooting is against gun control because he knows it is a useless and irrational political non-solution, and instead he wants to see REAL reforms that ACTUALLY will make students safe.  He is relentlessly attacked by the liberal media for daring to damage the value of this tragedy that they exploit for their political agenda.

    1. Eric Gelber

      Conservatives who have a moral filter for sanctity of life and also on law and order absolutely are right to bring political attention to this brutal and unnecessary death.  

      Villifying an entire group—who commit fewer violent crimes than the general population—for the acts of individuals is disingenuous and, when it comes to illegal immigration, racist. Conservatives’ moral filter is clogged up.

      1. Jeff M

        There is no vilifying an entire group for being murderers.

        There is vilifying an entire group for stealing because the entire group steals.

        And there is a rational argument against allowing illegal immigrants into the country because they are not vetted an thus those with criminal intent and behavior get in.

        And the murder of Mollie proves this once again.

        The situation is like you having the power to prevent me from putting up a fence around my yard and to lock the doors and to get the cops to remove unwanted strangers that would come into my yard and my house because you say it would vilify the entire group known as strangers.

        It is irrational and bizarre.

        1. Howard P

          No, Jeff… the analogy is having me pay for your fence (rightly or from paranoid tendencies), paying for the locks on your doors, etc.

          Can’t figure out whether you are over the top, or under the bottom.

          Quite frankly (although I’m not), am as concerned as much about uber-conservatives violating my space as I am undocumented folk…

          Undocumented is not equal to ‘illegal’, and definitely not equal to a ‘criminality’ that concerns me.

          Look at all the murders/assaults in Davis over the last 50 years… how many were committed by undocumented folk? %-age?

    1. Eric Gelber

      Mollie would most likely be alive today if our country had just enforced its immigration laws …

      This is an oft-repeated but silly argument. Do you know that she’d be alive had her killer entered the country legally? Of course not. And here’s  a four-year-old whose life was saved by an undocumented immigrant:

      Does this mean we should not be enforcing immigration laws? An equally silly argument.

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