People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Human Side To My Story

I got ticked off yesterday morning by a columnist for the New York Times pretending to shed tears over the plight of a West Virginian who is fighting a mining company and its efforts at mountaintop removal - all around his property. I brought a rarely-touched-upon perspective to the debate when I made mention of the fact that the state of West Virginia is in precipitate decline because elitists - environmentalists - here in the USA have decided that the entire area is to revert to its pristine state, that there'll be no commerce there, that its environment - unlike that of New York - is too precious to leave to the devices of the locals, that it's to become one big park - a playground for affluent east-coast do-gooders, and that the people of West Virginia are going to have to live with it - or move the hell out.

If there was one aspect to this story that I overlooked, it was in characterizing the massive migration of Highlanders as being one going only north, to the big cities. There is actually another road taken by many of them: the military.

I received an email from a retired navy man who happened to have read "The Highlands Clearances" yesterday and felt compelled to respond. His name is Phil Toth and he's given me permission to reprint his letter, a portion of which I'm making public here:

I am a displaced West Virginian, and your post today about the Highlanders brought a tear to my eye. I left Glenville in 1975 to join the Army. I ended up in the Navy and retired in 1997 (military retirement is just a word. I had to go get a real job.)

I went home 22 years after I left and the employment prospects were less than when I left. The bustling town I left, which had 2 dept. stores, 2 car dealers, 3 gas stations, 2 drugstores, 2 pool halls, a sporting goods store, and 3 grocery stores, were gone. The flood from Hurricane Juan in 1985 had wiped out Main Street. Insurance wouldn't rebuild in the flood plain. The coal mine had closed in the late 60's, but the associated oil & gas industry had dried up during that time.

Phil Toth
USN (ret)
Floyd, Va.
Mr. Toth goes on to relate how he's now married to a wonderful woman, living over in Floyd County, Virginia, shares my disdain for the accomplishments - or lack thereof - of the Democratic Party here in Southwest Virginia, has a particular problem with Rick Boucher's and Mark Warner's hypocrisy, and that Floyd is overrun with hippies - which we all know to be true.

Phil Toth is one of thousands of young West Virginians who left the state to secure a future for himself and his family. He wanted to return years later but found that his hometown had died away. Crumbled to dust. As has so much of West Virginia. Because outsiders - from New York - have decided for him - despite him - what the state of West Virginia is to be. It's to be environmentally friendly. A garden of Eden. Paradise. His hometown, Glenville (up towards Weston, I think), didn't fit the stereotype. It didn't make the cut. It's therefore being scrubbed out of existence. Like a dirt spot on the floor.

For those of you who like to wax poetic about the mountains and the area's flora and fauna, I ask that you keep it in perspective. On your way to Stonewall Jackson Lake for a weekend of hiking, boating, camping, campfire singing, dope smoking, and all that, make a run over to Glenville. Take a look at all the buildings that housed the "2 dept. stores, 2 car dealers, 3 gas stations, 2 drugstores, 2 pool halls, a sporting goods store, and 3 grocery stores" and ask yourself, "Where did everyone go?"

Phil Toth can tell you. They're scattered to the four winds. An entire generation of West Virginians - proud Highlanders - exiled by government decree.

That'll Show 'Em

How do you respond to 12 nights of rioting, the burning of thousands of cars, the torching of hospitals, post offices, and schools, the terrorizing of an entire populace, the beating of crippled and elderly people - one of which resulted in the death of a 61-year old man?

If you're French, and since you don't have Germany to surrender to this time, you impose a curfew.
French Cabinet Authorizes Curfews
By Jamey Keaten, Associated Press Writer

PARIS (AP) -- The French Cabinet on Tuesday authorized local officials to impose curfews under a state of emergency law to halt riots that have spread around the country the last 12 days, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said. (link)
I'll bet those thousands of Muslim youths who are rampaging through 237 different French cities are quaking in their boots.

Quote of the Day

There is no Western country more profoundly racist than France. There's nothing resembling equal-opportunity programs or affirmative action. Even if the government attempts some half-hearted reforms in the wake of the current uproar, the average French employer will have none of it (they don't even want to hire more white citoyens). And French voters will turn hard right at the next election.

Does anyone really believe that the country that enthusiastically handed over more of its Jewish citizens to the Nazis than the Nazis asked for is going to treat brown or black Muslims as equals? (link) Ralph Peters, "France's Intifada," New York Post, November 8, 2005

Virginia Blog Carmival Is Up

Hans has the latest installment of the Virginia Blog Carnival up and running over at The not so Daily Me. Check it out. Lots of players this week.