CNN Contributor Blames Mollie Tibbetts’ Death on ‘Toxic Masculinity’

“Just stop.”

Conservatives see the death of college student Molile Tibbetts in Brooklyn, Iowa, at the hands of an undocumented immigrant as a long-overdue wake-up call for border security. But some on the left are offering a different prognosis: The murder was a case of toxic masculinity.

Political activist and CNN contributor Symone Sanders​ tweeted on Wednesday that the fact that Tibbett’s killer, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, was an illegal immigrant was incidental. What really matters is that he was a man who “couldn’t take [Tibbetts] saying no.”

“Mollie Tibbetts was murdered [because] she told a man to leave her alone while she was jogging,” Sanders wrote.​​ “This isn’t about border security. This is about toxic masculinity.”

​​She continued: “The majority of mass shootings in America are carried out by white men. … How many more women have to die before we can address this?”

A post by another Twitter user making the same argument went viral the night before — as reports of Rivera’s arrest were just coming out.

The user followed up on her original post, which has been retweeted over 120 thousand times, with a plaintive eulogy: “RIP Mollie Tibbetts. You went through every woman’s worst nightmare and I’m so incredibly sorry this happened to you.”

Twenty-year-old Mollie Tibbetts has been declared missing since July 18. Police found her body hidden in a cornfield on Tuesday morning, after surveillance tape led them to Rivera, a 24-year-old farm worker.

According to police reports, Rivera had drove next to Tibbetts on a road near Brooklyn, Iowa. Annoyed, Tibbetts tried telling Rivera to stop following her, and eventually picked up her cellphone to call for help. Talking to the police, Rivera recalled feeling enraged at this point, but claimed to have “blocked” any memory of what happened next.

As soon as reports of Rivera’s arrest started coming out, political commentators coopted the conversation. Conservative outlets blamed ​”leftists” for being too soft on immigration. “What will they do for Mollie Tibbetts?” tweeted Candace Owens, maligning liberals for withholding the Tibbetts family the sympathies they show towards families separated by US immigration laws. (A second-cousin of Mollie called Owens a “fucking snake” for this post.)

The White House, still raw after months of public outrage condemning the darker consequences of the ​”zero tolerance” border policy, produced and released a video on Tuesday lamenting that “The Tibbetts family has been permanently separated” by an “illegal alien.”

The rush to politicization is no less strong on the left, where the urge is to aggressively downplay any connection between the murder to illegal immigration.

“Her murderer actually might not even be undocumented,” Sanders wrote in reference to reports that Rivera was legally employed in the US and that the employer, local Republican Craig Lang, had documentations to prove it. ​That turned out to be false. (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they had “no record” of Rivera.)

And instead, suggested Sanders, what we should be worrying about in the aftermath of the horror is that “lives are literally in danger because some men do not know how to check their egos.”

Interestingly, Sanders concluded that very thread with a post that seems to condemn excess politicization and calls for intellectual moderation.

“Just stop,” she wrote.

Adaam James is a senior editor at Pluralist.

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