The radical of history of West Virginia is hidden from the people by the legislative depowering of Unions and the Labor Movements and a propaganda campaign to make the people of the state believe they are lesser than. The coal companies are using new tactics to cover up the power labor history of West Virginia.
Mountain top removal is the new way the mining companies causing destruction to the lands in West Virginia and erasing the history of the state. Mountain top removal is exactly what it sounds like. It’s removing the the top of a mountain with explosives to get to it’s nougaty, coaly, center! And it begs the question, how many licks of sticks of dynamite does it take to get to the center of that mountain top…and that’s silly because they’re using C4.
Mountain top removal is not just a destructive way of getting coal but also a way to get rid of archeological evidence that shows what exactly happened at Blair Mountain. The corporations have used their wealth and legislative strongholds to normalize this kind of obliteration. These communities don’t realize they’re in an abusive relationship because they don’t know anything else exists.
The reason why these companies are resorting to mountain top removal is because coal is a dying industry. After World War 2, the jobs in a coal mine became more automated. And it’s difficult to get people to see this fact when the culture of the state of has been engrained and entangled into the industry. The people are the industry and the industry are the people. So when you go after the industry, the people think you’re going after them. Look I think Tyler Durden summarized this best.
But this is why the notion of jobs retraining is so hard in areas like West Virginia. A lot of people have been convinced that coal mining is the only way of life. Democrats come out to areas like this and claim that they’re willing to retrain these folks, but never say in what. The jobs exist, we just have a to give them a chance to flourish.
And as Eleanor Goldfield says, you can have a job in damn near anything. We need jobs in the reclamation of land, renewable energies, counseling, drug rehab and we need a job where someone punches a Mining CEO in the chest once a day. “Well why not the dick, Krish? That’s your signature move, the dick punch.” And it is, but in this situation it’s pertinent to go for the chest. These CEOs are all wearing oxygen tanks and I think they’ll get the message about how they’re shortening the breath of humanity and the planet, when they’re REALLY short of breath. It’s like Mixed Metaphoric Arts!
Look at this point we shouldn’t even want to have coal as a source of energy considering vast ecological damage it causes. Before coal is burned, it has to be cleaned. So it’s cleaned in a chemical bath and it creates a nice thick oozy slurry called Coal Sludge, which a cocktail of poisonous heavy metals. [WV 9] I believe we saw this in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
This sludge contaminates the water supply and even the cleaners get into the water. Politicians approve of what the coal companies do, because it’s “proprietary”. And I’m sure the machismo that is normalized in these areas would look at complaints like this and say “Oh come on! Water is supposed to be a little hard! You liberals and your filtered water! Who are you the King of England?! Quit being such a pussy and drink that water that cause minor brain damage & genetic defects! It’s good for yah!” Right I forgot wanting clean water and being alive is a sign of cowardice. Suicidality is super manly!
If the sludge wasn’t enough, coal plants have compression stations that create non-stop noise! Not only that, but when these plants have accidents or cause fires, the people are not warned. But the propaganda has permeated through the culture so much that these coal plants wind up staying way past their welcome.
This is where I really feel like religion has failed us all. It’s really astounding to me that we haven’t made a full investment in solar, considering how may religions worship the damn sun! If Ra or Surya, both Sun Gods, saw our dependency on fossil fuels they’d solar flare us out of existence. They’d look at us and say “hey assholes, we gave you an infinitely renewable source of energy! That stuff wasn’t meant for you dig up, that’s why it’s buried so far under the Earth! Fuck, why did we gift you guys with logic if you’re just going to shit on it! Oh good another country song about going to war and burning fossil fuels with your truck! Why does your Ford F-150 need testicles? It’s an inanimate object and doesn’t need a gender!”
Even the term Redneck is co-opted by this culture of normalizing ignorance and destruction. The term Redneck is one of solidarity for striking miners. They would tie red bandanas or neckerchiefs to signify who they were and where they stood. This was symbol of pride in the working class!
Today we look a redneck as a slur for someone that’s inbred, gun toting, racist and kinda dumb. And that definition is championed and worn as a badge of honor in places like West Virginia. And that comes from how much popular culture has taken this warped definition and turned ignorance into a way of life!
The term redneck is co-opted by millionaire entertainers like Jeff Foxworthy who used it as the butt of a joke with his famous “You Might Be A Redneck” routine and culturally contributed to burying the real meaning of the word. And he used comedy to do it which makes him a traitor to the art! Comedy is supposed to speak truth to power, not help it redefine a movement that stood up to tyranny.
And Jeff Foxworthy isn’t a redneck even by his definition! He grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, his dad had a great job with IBM and he attended Georgia Tech. I don’t think it should be “You might be a Redneck”. If he was more honest he’d say “You be privileged”.
Foxworthy is as much a Redneck as I am a Bollywood dancer. Jeff Foxworthy is a turncoat and a fraud that buried the true radical history of the term. He turned it into a product and built a brand on to sell merch to champion ignorance. Foxworthy, Garth Brooks, Toby Keith are all profiting from warping reality and telling people to take pride in their anti-intellectualism.
Mixed in with the pop culture propaganda is the political ones with groups like “Friends Of Coal”. They are “front group created but the West Virginia Coal Association, the trade association representing the bulk of states coal mining industry.” If you live in West Virginia and write propaganda against unions, pensions, medicare for all and convince the people to give up their land for the destruction of nature then you might be a Friend of Coal.
These folks are the ones that get excited when Trump says he’s going “Bring back Coal”. And he is! By continuing pump propaganda for these tree killers, we’re funding our own extinction so that in a few million years, our fossilized remains can turn into coal for a society that moved on using a combination of Solar and Wind and look at our era as the “Dark Ages”.
The positive in all this is that in the last few years there have been a bunch of coal companies going bankrupt. The coal company, Blackjewel went bankrupt in 2019 and owed miners backpay of $6000, each. They were in clear violation of the Warn Act, which claims that a company must give a 60 day written warning about mass layoffs. The miners protested and led strikes blocking train lines till the company paid them, which they eventually did.
And by the way, the United Mine Workers of America is shifting its Union prowess into the renewable energy sector because they’ve been seeing the writing on the wall for coal. The Coal Companies apparently couldn’t see that writing, because it’s so dark in those mines. And besides those CEOs aren’t going those mines! They don’t have the right outfits for mining because Armani doesn’t make overalls!
But the spirit of the striking miners is still alive and well. It’s just moved over into a different job – Teachers. In 2018 and 2019 we saw a bunch of teachers strike for better wages and better treatment. Since they were considered federal employees, this was illegal for them to do, but it was illegal for the miners to strike too because of the Yellow Dog Contracts. That didn’t stop either group of Real Rednecks from fighting for what’s right!
There in lies the spirt of what West Virginia really is! A hot bed for labor action to drive change! It’s the citizens and the rank file coming out any saying that we don’t believe in nor will we follow the laws that are in place. And until they change we will not contribute an unjust, unlawful and tyrannical system. And the message spread. There were strikes in LA, Colorado and various other industries joined in solidarity.
Now the corporate school boards decided use old tricks to try and split the Teachers up. In Denver the school boards threatened to called ICE – the Immigration and Customs Enforcement – on immigrant Teachers. This goes to show how much corporations are willing manipulate immigrants to get their way, just like the coal bosses did in the 1890s! This is the school board saying that the immigrant Teachers belong to them and not in solidarity with the Unions. It did not work.
The people in West Virginia are seen as this new definition of Redneck. The inbred, dumb, backwoods hicks that are ready to turn everything into an explosive. But that doesn’t sound like a Redneck to me. It sounds like an imperialist! Usually imperialist of the highest class want to keep their blood pure, which leads to inbreeding.
“Chuck this your cousin Tiffany, you are to be wed to make sure our lineage stays as pure as the rice we eat! Purity is our power! Genetic Abnormalities our gifts!”
This is probably why they are fine with people being poisoned by coal cleaning chemicals. And you can see the unintelligence every time any one of our politicians opens their mouth! Fuck the Democratic front runner struggles to finish a basic sentence without saying something racist! And Imperialists always want to turn something into a bomb.
“Look we created a new way of transporting people long distances, called an airplane”
“Yes, this is great! Now can we add an explosive device that can dropped anywhere we want? It should also have a gun on it. And testicles!”
“I’m sorry what?”
So the next time you want to call someone ignorant, racist, violent and hellbent on our own destruction, don’t call them a redneck, call them an imperialist. If you’re willing to fight for equality and basic human rights and dignity then you might be a true Redneck!
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!