The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Using Mollie Tibbetts’ Murder to Encourage Racism

Sep 3, 2018

Mollie Tibbetts, an Iowa college student, was found dead, and a man authorities said was an undocumented immigrant was charged with her murder.

Immediately, Republicans tried to use her death to reinforce their anti-immigrant propaganda. Trump posted a video to Twitter, saying “A person came in from Mexico illegally and killed her. We need the wall, we need immigration laws changed, we need our border laws changed.” Right wing media ran hourly coverage counterposing images of Mollie Tibbetts’ smiling white face with the dark stare of her accused murderer, Cristhian Rivera.

To many old enough to remember, these images and rhetoric were an unwelcome echo of the racist propaganda that justified the lynching of black men for a century. This kind of generalization about whole groups of people has always been at the center of racist violence.

There are about 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. A small number have committed murder or manslaughter. But in fact, according to virtually every study, undocumented immigrants are much less likely to carry out crimes of any sort than people born in the U.S.

That is not to say that women in this country aren’t under threat. In 2016, the last year for which numbers are available, more than 3,000 women were murdered in this country. But the vast majority were killed by their husband or boyfriend.

Trump and his allies want to use the tragedy of a young woman cut down, her body dumped in a field, to reinforce the racism of their base, to divide the working class and set us against each other. Workers in the U.S. have heard this story before. We are fools if we fall for it again.