Sarah Grace Goolden
Last month, 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts disappeared during an evening jog in her small town of Brooklyn, Iowa. After an extensive search, officials discovered a body believed to be hers buried under corn stalks. Her suspected killer is 25-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Rivera allegedly attacked Tibbetts after she denied his advances. He is the one that led police to the body.
Amidst the current tension regarding immigration laws, people were quick to use Tibbetts’ death as a political stepping stone. In Charleston, West Virginia, President Trump called current laws a “disgrace” and claimed that “we have to get more Republicans” to see a change.
Tibbetts was born in San Francisco, California and moved to Iowa when she was in second grade. She attended the University of Iowa, and was preparing to begin her sophomore year at the time of her untimely death. It was not surprising that she would go on an evening jog, because she was a former cross-country runner. Why are these things important?
Mollie Tibbetts was a human being whose family and town have been rocked by this tragedy. Her boyfriend of three years will never see her again, nor her parents or siblings. Our culture is so desensitized to death that we quickly push our agendas onto any occurrence, including the loss of life. Sometimes we forget that the stories we read about involve real people, like you and I.
According to several family members, this quarrel between sides is not what Mollie would have wanted. Her aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, explained that she does not want Mollie’s memory “to get lost amongst politics,” and reiterated that that it is “not about race.” One of her cousins stated that she believes her late family member would not want to become a platform for stricter immigration reform.
It is selfish to use the death of Tibbetts as a way to push a political narrative, especially one that she may have disagreed with. While it is easy to get caught up in the clash of opinions, we, as human beings, need to take a step back and reassess what is being done.
When we politicize the death of an individual, they lose their identity. Mollie Tibbetts was a sister, a daughter and a girlfriend. She was a student, an athlete and a Christian. Now she is a 20-year-old girl that will never come home again.
Mollie Tibbetts is not the push for tighter immigration laws or a ban on undocumented immigrants. We cannot allow a human life to be stripped down and condensed into a political agenda. People are bigger than our own propaganda.
What happened to Mollie Tibbets was a wildly unfortunate tragedy that should not go unnoticed. Justice should be served quickly. However, the actions of one undocumented immigrant does not speak for the whole.
Tibbetts’ life was cut short far too early. The American people will grieve alongside her community for the loss of a woman who should still be alive today. Most importantly, we need to strive to make sure that Mollie Tibbetts is not reduced to an instrument for political gain.