Katie Arrington and Donald Trump

State Rep. Katie Arrington, the Republican nominee for the 1st District congressional seat, meets with President Donald Trump at the White House in July. Trump signed Arrington's cast.

Apparently, Katie Arrington’s congressional campaign forgot to send out her statement condemning the recent murder of a pregnant Colorado woman and her two children.

Surely it simply slipped their minds.

After all, domestic violence on average claims the lives of nearly three women in the United States every day, and it’s been a particularly rampant problem in South Carolina.

Why, a reasonable person might ask, would a local candidate for Congress comment on a crime committed halfway across the country?

Good question. But that didn’t stop Arrington last week, when she sent out an “angry” statement on the murder of a college student in Iowa.

The difference? The Colorado triple (quadruple?) homicide was a white-on-white crime, and the Iowa tragedy is ... politics.

“I am deeply saddened — and angry — to learn about the horrible murder of Mollie Tibbetts at the hands of an illegal immigrant,” Arrington said. “This senseless and brutal crime didn’t have to happen.”

It is completely appropriate to mourn a young woman’s murder, which is tragic.

But it’s crass and despicable to exploit her death for political gain, especially when the family has explicitly and repeatedly asked people not to do that.

But this is campaign season, and Arrington can’t resist blowing that dog whistle. It’s just part of the playbook.

Playing with numbers

A certain number of people refuse to believe this, but there are no scientific studies that indicate illegal immigrants commit crime at a higher rate than legal citizens.

That is in no way — no way — a defense of illegal immigration. It’s just math.

But GOP candidates, the White House and some conservative-biased media have used Tibbetts’ death to stir racial animosity and prop up suspect claims of high crime rates among the estimated 11 million people illegally in this country.

They have latched on to tragedy to advance a political agenda. Most studies actually suggest a slightly lower crime rate among those here illegally, but since the data is so sparse the hucksters know they can get away with making outrageous claims.

The problem here is not legitimate concerns about illegal immigration, it’s the selective outrage.

Of course the murder of Tibbetts “didn’t have to happen.” Just like 58 people didn’t have to die at a Las Vegas country music festival last fall. And 17 students and staff members need not have perished at a Florida high school earlier this year, or 20 children at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012.

For that matter, it was “senseless and brutal” for 26 people to die in a Texas church last year, and nine innocent souls to be killed at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston three years ago.

No wall would have saved all those victims. And no one is suggesting that all white men — who are responsible for all 130 of those murders — are criminals.

When those tragedies occurred, and families asked politicians for laws to keep guns out of the hands of madmen, they were told not to politicize tragedy. The politicians offered only hollow “thoughts and prayers.”

Which, incidentally, Arrington didn’t even bother extending to Tibbetts’ mourning family.

Stirred up and scared

Since crime is such an important issue, and it is, where is Arrington’s statement on the five shooting deaths in North Charleston this month?

How about the two teens shot and killed in West Ashley earlier this summer?

But last week Arrington went out of her way to call for a ban on “sanctuary cities.” Of which there are exactly none in South Carolina.

That’s another solution in search of a problem, a specialty among politicians who rely on keeping people stirred up and scared to win elections.

Arrington certainly doesn’t act like a candidate in a congressional district that’s hers to lose. In her statement last week, she repeated a claim even President Trump has quietly abandoned — that the border wall will be built without using taxpayer dollars.

Of course, that’s just politics. Arrington knows that you can fool some of the people all of the time.

But using a young woman’s murder to prop up a reeling campaign, ignoring the family’s pleas to stop exploiting her death, and then not even feigning sympathy shouldn’t fool anyone.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.