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Mollie Tibbets: a name so suddenly plastered on newsstands across the country yet still so inconsiderately mourned by a far too politically motivated public, has evolved from a small town murder mystery to a nation-wide political debate. A beautiful girl with a promising future, 20 year old Tibbets’ carefree life was tragically cut short on July 18, 2018.
Mollie Tibbets disappeared while she was out for a jog in Brooklyn, Iowa. However, her body was only recently discovered on August 21, 2018 in Poweshiek County, Iowa. As if the death of a young girl with a bright future ahead of her was not already tragic enough, Tibbets’ death has garnered an unprecedented amount of inappropriate political attention, as her murderer is a perfect target for an all-American controversy: an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
For the past two weeks, political leaders have been viciously using Tibbets’ death to further their own political agendas against illegal immigration, resulting in a web of debate surrounding the Tibbets case. This exploitation of her death not only insults the Tibbets family, but also distracts from the root of the problem: Mollie Tibbets’ death is not the result of illegal immigration as a whole; instead, it is yet another death in a string of murders stemming from a long-standing culture of violence against women in the US.
Once the suspect in the Tibbets case was confirmed to be an illegal immigrant, right-wing politicians seized the opportunity to push for tighter border control and ultimately the building of President Trump’s infamous wall. Yet, with all the attention this case has received, it is definitely surprising that media and political coverage has been scant with other very similar murder cases involving women’s safety in the United States. Similar murder cases have received little-to-no media attention from politicians who claim to care so deeply about the safety of women in the US. Politicians should not be able to pick and choose which tragedies to care about based on their own political agendas. If Mollie Tibbets’ killer had been of legal status, it is doubtful her case would have made national news.
For instance, fourteen year old Tabitha Tuder was abducted by a stranger in 2003. To this day, her case remains unsolved. This is because there is no political motive to solve it, and therefore no media coverage. Ultimately, everyone has stopped looking for her. The fact that it took the revelation of the murderer’s immigration status for Mollie’s case to break national news speaks volumes to the current values of this country. If all missing persons cases were given the same amount of attention as the Tibbets’ case regardless of political standing, perhaps more cases would be solved in a timely manner.
Furthermore, American-born citizens are statistically more likely than immigrants to commit violent crimes towards women, which deems the public’s outrage at political reformation over one singular incident of an illegal immigrant unreasonable. A 2015 study by the Cato Institute showed that American-born citizens commit more violent crimes (murder, sexual assault, etc.) than illegal immigrants in the state of Texas, which has one of the largest immigrant to citizen ratios in the country. In fact, it’s actually counterproductive for illegal immigrants to commit any crimes at all, let alone high-profile ones, because they risk deportation and if caught. Blaming all illegal immigrants for the actions of one man is simply irrational. By creating a deceiving image of illegal immigrants, politicians are effectively distracting Americans from the root of the problem: women in the US are still viewed as inferior by men.
This statement is not a matter of opinion; it is concrete fact, backed with ample statistics. A study by the National Crime Victimization Survey found that 232,960 women were raped or sexually assaulted in the US in 2006. In addition, the Justice Department states that about one in every five women will be victims of rape or attempted rape by the time they finish college.
Despite these overwhelming statistics, politicians refuse to acknowledge the violence against women in the US. While it is true that women with close acquaintances or intimate partners are more often killed than others, this does not at all minimize the threatening problem of vulnerability among women. In fact, almost all women have encountered harassment by rash groups of men on the street.
And the worst part of this? These men justify their actions because they can.
This perceived power imbalance and enabling from society makes men think this is an acceptable way to behave. The fear-mongering rhetoric these politicians continue to spew hurts the real victims of these cases: the families. As politicians continue to manipulate statistics, it is up to Americans to change the narrative, averting themselves from
Aside from the aforementioned, the disproportionately insensitive media attention the case has received leaves the Tibbetts’ family no privacy. Reporters have even gone as far as to ask the family about their opinions on illegal immigration. This inconsideration is extremely disrespectful as the family was not given proper time or circumstance to grieve.
To minimize further political tensions stemming from the Tibbets’ case, her family has also spoken out about their own values and their disappointment in the current political air. In an interview for the Des Moines Register, Tibbets’ father stated, “The person who is accused of taking her life is no more a reflection of the hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people.” This statement clearly encompasses the fact that the American government system has failed to do its most important job: to look out for its people. Through its selfish acts to revolve all misfortunes around politics, they have overlooked much more pressing matters, forsaking hundreds of families.
It is time that Americans wake up and look past the political rhetoric. It is crucial that we, as a country, put aside our party platform differences and focus on the real issue at hand. Although this will not bring Mollie or Tabitha back, it could help in finding the other 40,530 women currently missing in the US.