Chernobyl’s Grandeur vs Holocaust’s Fetuses

This is how a blogger describes a trip to Northwestern Indiana:

There was a Chernobyl-like grandeur to it, as of the longed-for end of something enormous that hadn’t worked out well.

Chernobyl-like grandeur? Hadn’t worked out well? So That’s what Chernobyl was? “Something that hadn’t worked out well”?

I’ve been to Gary, Indiana more than once. The area is, indeed, desolate, and the town looks tattered and miserable. If I’m not mistaken, it was a place with the highest per capita murder rate in the US until East St. Louis took the lead in that tragic statistic. It’s like whenever I move to a place, the highest per capita murder rate follows me.

So yes, Gary is miserable. But it’s not Chernobyl. There is nothing “grand” in either of those places. What these towns experienced was tragic in very different ways. And the intellectual laziness that compares Gary to “ain’t-it-grand” Chernobyl, working for a wage in the US to slavery and abortion to the Holocaust is both offensive and stupid.

People who think that these outrageous comparisons make their writing stronger are mistaken. If anything, their writing sounds extremely silly and unconvincing as a result. At first, I was very interested in this blogger’s report about an area of the country I happen to know well. However, the moment I got to Chernobyl metaphors, I lost all interest in anything he has to say. If this blogger is so careless with words, how can I trust that anything he says about Northwestern Indiana is not the product of his love of pretty-sounding verbal flourishes?

I propose that we all leave Chernobyl’s grandeur and Holocausts’s fetuses in peace and talk about the issues we initially proposed to talk about. If you want to describe Gary, Indiana, then, for Pete’s sakes, leave Chernobyl out of it because it is not only offensive to the actual victims of Chernobyl but also extremely counter-productive for you as a writer.

4 thoughts on “Chernobyl’s Grandeur vs Holocaust’s Fetuses

  1. You know, next time I burn the rice or whatever, I’m totally comparing that to Chernobyl. Or maybe the Holocaust. So I can punch up my writing. Subtlety in blogging is so over, you know? (Also: USA! USA! USA! The whole rest of the world and it’s history exists only so we can make it all into cool metaphors about whatever dumb little thing we’re doing at the time.)

    Also, Jesus, that guy’s blog entry is only a day old and already its comment thread is full of spam. Sometimes I wonder if these people leave their blogs so badly maintained in order to dissuade real commenters from leaving any dissenting messages.

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    1. Argh, misplaced apostrophe — I meant “its history.” I hate when I do that.

      Like

    2. I haven’t read the comments because the post itself was more than enough, but I think you might be right. Shoddy writing, shoddy moderation, these are parts of the same careless package.

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      1. I mean it’s so easy. If you’re running your own blog all you have to do is install a simple plugin (which basically involves uploading some files to a folder) and activate it. He probably pays someone to run his site so there’s even less excuse.

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