Politicizing death

Recently, the name Mollie Tibbetts has circled through news outlets nationwide as the subject of news reports and editorials. 

Tibbetts, 20, a rising sophomore at University of Iowa, was reported missing on July 18, after going for a run, after lack of contact with friends and family. 

For the next month, she remained missing. Loved ones sought tirelessly to find her. Their efforts were thwarted when mid-August, authorities located her body. 

Soon, attention shifted to a suspect, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who worked at a nearby dairy farm. 

Local women reported being approached by him in the past, claiming he seemed to be an unsteady personality. 

When questioned, Rivera claimed to have seen Tibbetts jogging. He said he exited his vehicle to run alongside her.

Rivera recounted how Tibbitts told him that she would call the cops, if he didn’t leave her alone. He recalled getting mad, but claimed he was unable to remember what happened next. 

Rivera said as he was driving later, he realized Tibbetts’ body was in the trunk of his vehicle. When he went to retrieve her, he saw blood on the side of her head. 

He eventually hid her body within a cornfield. Rivera has since been charged with first-degree murder for her death. 

Authorities later determined Rivera was in the country under falsified documents. Due to his immigration status, this case has become the center of a political firestorm. Many have used Tibbetts’ murder to push political ideologies on both sides of the issue.

The subject has been so prominent, Tibbetts’ family spoke out on the issue.  They have called for politicians and pundits to cease the debates. They have implored complete strangers to offer them some privacy amidst their grieving. 

After Donald Trump Jr., the son of President Donald Trump, wrote an op-ed on the matter, Rob Tibbetts, her father, wrote a column, published by the Des Moines Register. 

In it, he gave his response to Trump Jr.’s opinion, and his own views on the matter. 

Rob Tibbetts wrote he “encourage the debate on immigration,” and there is merit to the outcome of such. However he knew his daughter would be repulsed by the political agenda many are pushing in her name. 

He went on to say Mollie would not want to be the face of this topic. He went on to address the Hispanic community, offering his apologies that they have “been beset by the circumstances of Mollie’s death.” 

After expressing his feelings, Mollie’s father concludes the column asking people for privacy. 

“Please accept our desire to remain private as we share our loss,” Rob Tibbetts wrote. “We love Mollie with all our hearts and miss her terribly. We need time.”

While the topic of immigration is important, in this case, it seems disrespectful to use the name of a young woman to push an agenda regardless the political stance. 

Although the discussion is important, it is despicable that people choose to politicize a young woman’s murder in this manner. 

The memory of Mollie Tibbetts should not be used in such a way, especially while her family is in the midst of their grief. 

If we, as a society, grant them nothing else, we should respect their wishes for privacy in the face of this tragedy.