I've singled out Lauer because of an interview he conducted this morning on the TODAY SHOW with Arizona State Representative Steve Farley (D). My criticism, however, would apply to all who dismiss the role that the political climate, fed by the violent rhetoric coming from those on the right, played in this tragedy.
After Farley mentioned that he felt that politics played a role in the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Lauer (D-AZ) pushed back by interrupting:
"Let me just interrupt for a second, Steve when you talk politics, when you say 'heal our politics' its easy, the temptation is to say this is politically motivated in someway but, but this young man, this alleged shooter didn't only target a member of Congress, he shot a 9 year old girl, thats not about politcs thats about insanity isn't it?"
What Lauer doesn't admit, even after acknowledging that Giffords was targeted, was that Christina died because she attended an event for the Congresswoman who was shot. Was the bullet that hit Giffords political while the bullets that hit the other 19 people were not?
Make no mistake this was a political shooting and all of those wounded or killed are victims of political violence.
Some things to consider that are not in dispute:
- Sarah Palin literally put Giffords in the "crosshairs" on a map as a candidate targeted for defeat.
- Palin constantly reminded her supporters "Don't retreat, reload"
- Giffords Republican opponent, Jesse Kelly, held a campaign event where participants were encouraged to participate in an event and "to get on target for victory in November to help remove Gabrille Giffords from office."
- There are 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate, yet it was Giffords, who was "targeted" with a lot of gun based rhetoric, that became the first member of Congress since 1978 to be shot.
Restraint tells us that we should tread lightly when it comes to placing blame on anyone but Loughner, however it would be irresponsible to believe that restraint prohibits us from taking a look at the environment that may have influenced him.
The toxic political environment we have played a role in this, to what degree we might not know, but it played a role. Everyone, regardless of ideology, needs to take a long hard look at themselves and consider what we say, what we do and how we do it contributes to the conversation.
I know I will.
I hope that when Lauer and others who are quick to dismiss the role that politics played in this tragedy reflect on the facts that are not in dispute before they declare that politics had nothing to do with this.