Saturday, July 01, 2006

The real Ground Zero

x = 0 marks the spot

It's time for an episode of “Short Attention-Span History,” courtesy of the letters column in The Sacramento Bee. The city's mayor committed a grievously insensitive faux pas the other day. Or so some would have you believe.

From the June 17, 2006, Letters to the editor:

Respecting ground zero

Re “City OKs subsidy for K Street revival,” June 14: I was disappointed that Mayor Heather Fargo described the 700 block of K Street as the city's “ground zero.” We all know where ground zero is. As bad as we may think the 700 block of K street is, it could never compare to the real ground zero.

Kathleen Winkler, Sacramento

Nice try, Ms. Winkler, but those who cannot remember the past are condemned to distort it, as Santayana once almost said. Far be it from me to retard the secular sanctification of the World Trade Center site, but now that Ann Coulter has pointed out how much the 9/11 widows are enjoying and benefitting from the deaths of their spouses, perhaps we should rein in the genuflections. “Ground zero” is not a term specific to the atrocities of September 11. From Wikipedia:

Ground zero is the exact location on the ground where any explosion occurs. The term has often been associated with nuclear explosions, but is also used in relation to earthquakes, epidemics and other disasters to mark the point of the most severe damage or destruction. Damage gradually decreases with distance from this point....

The term was military slang—used at the Trinity site where the weapon tower for the first nuclear weapon was at point ‘zero’—and moved into general use very shortly after the end of World War II (see Manhattan project).

I'm thinking that perhaps people could find something more substantive over which to criticize Mayor Fargo than this instance of supposed insensitivity.

No comments: