"Each Home Lost Is Ground Zero For the Family Who Lived In It"

That’s the headline on an e-mail I just received from the National Council of La Raza, and it also appears in the text that follows:

It is estimated that more than 1.3 million Latino families will lose their homes to foreclosure between 2009 and 2012. From this financial calamity, we will see exponential consequences that will adversely affect the nation. Each home lost is ground zero for the family who lived in it, and only after years of recuperation will some individuals understand the impact foreclosure has had on their household.

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) intends to chronicle these families’ stories. Our nation’s memory is short, and if we do not gather personal experiences, we will lose the significance of this crisis.

I’ve no objection to this project — may it inspire a modern day Dorothy Lange — but I can’t help but find the 9/11 allusion creepy — not to mention overwrought, an assessment I make fully understanding how awful it is to have one’s home foreclosed upon. As a beat reporter, only the homes I saw destroyed by fires left the families that inhabited them more devastated.

This use of “ground zero” is reminiscent both of our longstanding national affinity for proclaiming wars on various abstractions to lend a cause rhetorical heft, and the more recent co-opting of 9/11, terrorism, and all things related to them. In a foreclosure, a family is forced to move from their home, sometimes with nowhere else to go, other times to burden family or friends. That is sufficiently sad and powerful, and it need not be embellished with allusions to national tragedies or nuclear blasts.

2 Responses to “"Each Home Lost Is Ground Zero For the Family Who Lived In It"”

  1. tieguy Says:

    The problem is that, unfortunately, foreclosure appears not to be sufficiently sad or powerful on its own to actually create the political will to resolve or even merely ameliorate the problem. This isn’t to say I condone this tactic, but it is hard to blame La Raza for trying when the more upstanding approach has had no effect.

  2. libtree09 Says:

    I do condone the practice and use of the word because it was in the vernacular well before 9/11 and while the source is the Manhattan project the expression implies an expansion of effect; in the case of the A-bomb it implied radiation but using it in the sense of culture also applies as in New York is ground zero of American culture. In fashion, Paris is ground zero. It’s use in 9/11 first implied a disaster like Hiroshima but did not have the right implication. A more accurate use would be to say 9/11 was ground zero in shaping policy in America. So to use the term in regard to disastrous far reaching implications of a foreclosure to citizens in general and the country as a whole seems quite an effective use of the term.

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