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.