By Denise Giardina
Dear Ms. Harrop:
I am a writer, the author of several novels published by W.W. Norton, including "Storming Heaven" and "The Unquiet Earth," fictional accounts of 100 years of life (plus rebellion and repression) in the West Virginia coalfields. I have also been published over the years in the New York Times, the Washington Post and The Nation. I live in Charleston, West Virginia.
Your column on our current water disaster appeared this morning in our local newspaper (the Gazette reprints your columns fairly regularly, and I generally find them insightful.) Although I can understand some of your conclusions in this column, I respectfully suggest you are also misunderstanding some things. The comparison to a cult is not particularly helpful and smacks of blaming the victim, as well as lumping all the victims into one category. I would suggest another "c" word as a better comparison - West Virginia is a colony. As such, it functions as colonies everywhere always have:
1. Its resources are extracted and sent elsewhere, with little benefit locally.
2. Local government is wholly captive to the outside occupier and its functionaries are puppets who do as they are told.
3. A minority of the colonists identify with their oppressors and internalize their "inferior status", in a sort of Stockholm Syndrome.
4. The majority feels powerless to change the situation and generally has given up trying.