CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It started, as these things often do, on Facebook. “Show your solidarity with WV coal miners,” urged several friends. “Pray for the miners in Raleigh Co.” By Tuesday, many on Facebook were appealing to Americans everywhere to leave their porch lights on all night to show support for victims of the mine explosion.
I didn’t have the nerve to reply to several well-meaning friends with what seemed an obvious response: “Wouldn’t that actually benefit the coal companies more than the miners and their families? Is that what we really want to do at this moment?”
I am a native of West Virginia, having grown up in Pocahontas County, an area known more for skiing, hiking, biking and trout fishing than for the business of mining coal. But when I was very young, my grandfather worked for a while in a coal tipple; I grew up with at least some firsthand awareness of coal mining and its consequences.