From a grieving father

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Iowans should be grateful to Rob Tibbetts, father of the late Mollie Tibbetts, for reminding us of the values we shared with his daughter. In a brave eulogy at her funeral and in a letter to The Des Moines Register on Friday, he urged us to learn from her death by remembering what Mollie stood for, and to move past our bitter debates that attempted to draw in her memory.

Rob Tibbetts specifically asked that politicians and others refrain from using her death in an uninformed and racist debate. At the risk of doing what he asked us not to, it is important for us to hear what this bereaved father had to say, as he put in it his letter to The Register:

“The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people. To suggest otherwise is a lie. Justice in my America is blind. This person will receive a fair trial, as it should be. If convicted, he will face the consequences society has set. Beyond that, he deserves no more attention.   

“To the Hispanic community, my family stands with you and offers its heartfelt apology. That you’ve been beset by the circumstances of Mollie’s death is wrong. We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody. And yes, we love your food.

“My stepdaughter, whom Mollie loved so dearly, is Latina. Her sons — Mollie’s cherished nephews and my grandchildren — are Latino. That means I am Hispanic. I am African. I am Asian. I am European. My blood runs from every corner of the Earth because I am American. As an American, I have one tenet: to respect every citizen of the world and actively engage in the ongoing pursuit to form a more perfect union.”

Our new neighbors should understand that not all of us share the views of those who wanted to build an argument around her death. Iowans believe in justice, which will be delivered. They believe in the truth, and they remember that we are a state of many races and colors and creeds trying to form a more perfect union. Our heart goes out to Rob Tibbetts and his family for tamping down the false fires of outrage, and reminding us of who we are as a people of dignity.

Correction and amplification

A friendly correction from reader Michael Gartner of Des Moines (and a careful reader he is) reminds us that Kim Reynolds’ previous executive experience to becoming governor was as a county treasurer, not as a recorder. Her Democratic opponent, Fred Hubbell, has previous executive experience as chief executive of a global insurance company and a major department store chain. Reynolds has made a mess of state government and its finances, no doubt about that, and so of course is trying to turn Hubbell’s strength — management experience — into his overwhelming weakness.

Because of his sound judgment in selling Equitable and Younkers, Hubbell made a whale of millions of dollars last year. He admits to it. That should be the sort of person voters would want to dig Iowa out of its fiscal funk that sees us starving K-12 schools. Reynolds is raising money from folks who make the Hubbells look like hoboes to craft a message that he is rich and out of touch with the poor people spraying Monsanto’s products hither and yon and raising hogs for the Chinese.

The fact is that the privatized Medicaid program that Reynolds helped sell and continues to defend is bleeding cash and building annual budget deficits of well over $100 million. That just for starters. Then there is the Iowa Finance Authority, and the corporate takeover of Iowa State University, and the spiraling poverty in half of Iowa’s counties (all rural). It is hard to tell someone in Pocahontas that you have a solution to rural poverty if you haven’t been there. And Hubbell has not been there. Somebody has to show up to make the argument that rural Iowa under the Republican regime has dirtier air and water, poorer schools, universities sold out, and rural nursing homes closing by the dozen in a geriatric state. Now that Labor Day is past, remind us of Gov. Reynolds’ previous executive experience — it is so thin it is easily forgotten amid the spin.