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 Christopher Martin Archive
Grace and Grit in Southern West Virginia
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Introduction

For years, I’ve wanted to go to southern West Virginia and do original reporting on what’s alternatively called “the white death” and “the opioid crisis.” It is the greatest social malady of our time, and people who read this publication should care about its resolution more than anyone else. After more than a year of false starts, I secured private funding to go there, specifically, to McDowell County, the nation’s poorest and least healthy county, just east of Kentucky and abutting Virginia to the south in what used to be “coal country.” By way of disclaimer, I told everyone the truth: That this project was taken on as a freelance project and I wasn’t sure where it would be published. I did not advertise my more controversial views. For the sake of everyone’s privacy, each person I spoke to is described and quoted anonymously.

Finally, this essay is not the end result of a research project. I leave the task of documenting the sociological and economic origins of this crisis to historians and authors capable of obtaining grants and book deals. What I set out to do here was speak to actual residents of the area. I wanted to know what they had to say about it all and what they had seen over the course of their lives.

Photo of downtown Welch in 2004 when its population was around 2500
Photo of downtown Welch in 2004 when its population was around 2500

My drive into Welch (pop. 2406 in the 2010 census, estimated to be 1904 in 2019), McDowell County’s seat, is a long one, and what’s most striking is that the last two hours of it are nothing but turns on windy country roads surrounded by mountains covered in the lushest forests I’ve ever seen. I’d read a lot about this place, but nobody ever mentioned its natural beauty— or what a hassle it is to get to.

I arrive late on a Saturday and figure my best starting point is the bar I can walk to from where I’m staying. It’s small and largely unadorned. There’s a separate room full of slot machines, and everyone’s in there except me and the bartender.

I do my best to chat her up, but she isn’t much of a talker. It’s clear that she isn’t suspicious of me or anything, she’s just shy. After disappointing me for the sixth time with a one-word answer, her face brightens and she says, “I know someone you can talk to!” She walks into the gambling room and comes back with another woman.

She’s a school teacher, and has been her whole adult life. She’s happy to speak with me and says she’s used to it: journalists always seem to be streaming in and out of McDowell County. What really strikes me about her is something I’d get used to over the next few days: She’s perfectly open about the area’s decline and its many problems, but takes it all in stride, and is genuinely proud to be from here. Most of all, she’s authentically optimistic.

“It pays to be poor,” she jokes about the money McDowell has started getting from government and charity alike. That line, more than anything else she said, captures the duality of frankness and hope that I’d soon find in nearly everyone in southern West Virginia. She grew up in Welch and says that when she was a kid, nobody ever had to leave the city— it had everything: supermarkets, department stores, car dealerships, etc. You don’t have to spend more than five minutes downtown to know that hasn’t been the case in a long time. There’s plenty of bad, and that is what outside journalists love to focus on, but there’s plenty of good, too. This teacher tells me all about both in one big cascade of information: More than the drugs and coal mine closures, what really sent Welch spiraling were the two devastating floods in the early 2000s. But now, there’s a growing tourism industry, especially ATVers making the most out of the rough terrain. There will be more and more of that in the coming years, and that means jobs and money. The Walmart in McDowell County closed five years ago and it was devastating. Now the nearest one is at least an hour away. But now retirees are moving to the area for the low cost of living, which is more good than bad.

The small-town vibes are strong. She tells me people were really excited when a McDonald’s opened up in the area, and they feel the same about a Taco Bell expected to arrive soon. School activities here are a big deal both because there isn’t much else and because everyone wants to make sure the kids are alright, that their future won’t be defined by the area’s current problems. There’s nostalgia mixed with bitterness, too. Generations ago, this county was an industrial hub with ~100,000 residents. (Welch even used to be nicknamed “Little New York” and had a population of around 6000 in the 1940s.) Today the county has around 20,000 residents and is best known as the epicenter of the opioid crisis. “We built West Virginia. Now the state ends at Beckley (over an hour northeast of Welch),” she laments. “I miss seeing people I know,” she concedes. Later on, she says that people (like her sister) who left the area and came back don’t recognize it, and joke that those who never left “stayed too long.” But at the same time, she never insults this place or its people. She gives me a long list of people to speak to and sings the praises of each of them. It’s clear she doesn’t think the decline will last forever. She brings up that there’s a plan to connect a four-lane highway to Welch, and that this could bring all the uplift they need.

Downtown Welch in 1946, population ~6000
Downtown Welch in 1946, population ~6000

As a city-slicker, I find her optimism really striking. It isn’t forced and she’s got a list of reasons to back it up. I’m used to urban ghettoes where nobody thinks anything will get better and where apathy is so pronounced the question of whether the area will improve doesn’t even really make sense to ask, much less answer. All my life, liberals have told me that poor Whites are just as pathological as poor blacks, and that the dispossessed residents of Appalachia are just as violent and dysfunctional as the citizens of Chicago’s Southside. Walking back from the bar, I chuckle thinking about how I could go into 100 bars in Black ghettoes and never have one conversation with a local about the area as pleasant as the one I just had.

On Sunday morning I walk to a Catholic church. The service isn’t very noteworthy. Like just about anywhere else, it’s sparsely attended and the folks in the pews are almost all senior citizens. What did surprise me was the priest: A man from India with an accent. I wonder how he ended up all the way out here. After the service, one of the parishioners comes up to me with a big smile and asks where I’m from. “It’s that obvious?” I joke, because it is, of course, very much that obvious. We both laugh and I explain that I’m a journalist interested in southern West Virginia. We exchange phone numbers and agree to meet and talk later in the week.

I’m a sucker for diners, so after church I open up Google Maps to find the nearest one. In what I became resentfully accustomed to over the course of the week, I discovered that the nearest place was about an hour away. I drive to Dolly’s Diner in the city of Princeton, which is in neighboring Mercer County. Again, the drive feels like a series of switchbacks and blind curves surrounded by tree-covered mountains. When I get there, the restaurant is in the midst of its “post-Church rush” and I’m seated immediately only because there’s a lone stool left at the very end of the bar. Everyone (staff and clients) is White and about half the men are wearing baseball caps. There’s a real “grandparents and grandkids” energy to the place. Though there are certainly exceptions, you can immediately tell that there are plenty of absent parents in these families. Last night, the school teacher had told me that not only are there lots of people raising their grandchildren around here, there are even some people raising their great-grandchildren. The décor is what you’d imagine: Americana, cars, “In God We Trust,” etc. They sell Christian keychains from the Child Evangelism Fellowship. At the cash register there’s a notice for the “20th Anniversary 9/11 Stair Climb.”

As I write all of this in my notepad two waitresses take notice and ask me (without a hint of suspicion) what I’m doing. I tell them I’m visiting the area from a long way away and taking notes. They like that answer and I take the opportunity to ask them what they like best about the place. They both say the natural beauty and the kindness of the people here. They say that people everywhere else are mean, even hateful. One mentions having gone to South Carolina only to discover that everybody there was rude. On cue, a man paying out at the register near my seat welcomes me to the area and wishes me the best with a big smile before he leaves.

When I get going, I think about the prospect of a major highway making its way to McDowell County. I’m near Highway 77, and it seems to have done well by the area: There’s Starbucks, Lowe’s, Outback Steakhouse, Radisson, Applebee’s, etc. It’s easy to shrug off those chains as shallow or uncultured, but they’re sure better than boarded-up storefronts—and they’re probably the same chains you find where you live. The American monoculture.

Back in Welch, I wander around town for a bit. I’ve lived all over the United States, but always in cities. The texture of life here is different. The internet is bad and cellphone reception is weak. There are plenty of pharmacies and churches, but not much else— though importantly, there’s not nothing else. What I notice most is that unlike in ghettoes, here, nobody is milling about looking for trouble. There aren’t layabouts loitering in front of any place that sells liquor. The parks aren’t filled with rowdy teens hoping to find a fight. And despite the area’s notorious drug problem, I don’t run into any toughs sitting on a bench or pacing around an intersection waiting for their customers. In every ghetto I’ve ever been to, it’s been easy to spot who’s hustling. Here, most everybody seems to be inside. I wonder if it’s all done behind closed doors.

Welch government building
Welch government building

Later I get a bite to eat at a KFC. There’s a couple in their sixties having dinner and I ask if they might give me an interview. They agree, completely nonplussed. Their answers are almost exactly what any liberal journalist might have made up. Both love Donald Trump, but have never voted. Both thought about registering to vote just because they thought Mr. Trump was so great, but failed to do so in both 2016 and 2020. They think they will when he runs again in 2024. Both say the drug problem in the area got bad about twenty years ago and that they know many people who have overdosed. It’s clear they don’t want to go into details about that last part, and I don’t push it. He’s a retired coal miner, and not only were both his father and his grandfather coal miners, but two of his sons are as well. I tell them that, as I drove around today, it seemed like every two miles I saw a sign that said “ATVs Welcome” or some kind of ATV-related business. He told me that it’s all the rage now because that’s where the money is, but that it’s a relatively recent development. The three of us chat politely for a while. Before they leave, he gives me directions to their home and tells me that this way, if I have any car trouble near him, I’ll know how to walk to his place so he can help me. His generosity and trust really floor me. I immediately think two thoughts at once: What those waitresses said about the people around here, and that in any ghetto, a car breakdown can cost you your life.

ATV Stop Sign
ATV Stop Sign

That night, I decide to go to another bar and see what more locals will tell me about the area. Once again, I find that there are slim pickings out here, and I end up driving the hour back to Princeton. Just like in McDowell, you can still smoke cigarettes inside bars in Mercer County. While I certainly enjoy it, it’s yet another thing that can give this part of the country a “land that time forgot” feel. In Minnesota, where I grew up, smoking in bars was banned some 15 years ago.

I meet a nice young couple who are clearly bright, progressive, and rather hip. He studied political science at the University of West Virginia in Morgantown, several hours north, and he’s very happy to talk policy with an outsider. My notebook gets filled in no time at all as I chain-smoke and he gives me his opinion on absolutely everything pertaining to West Virginia.

Perhaps I’m a jaded right-winger, but despite his obvious intelligence, some of what he says strikes me as naïve. He thinks all drugs should be legalized, and that removing the “stigma” of drug addiction would go a long way in solving the opioid crisis. I have a great deal of empathy for addicts, but there’s never going to be any way of removing the “stigma” around a class of people who will lie, steal, and take advantage of those closest to them in order to get a fix.

The point he hammers home most, however, is infrastructure. He brings up that in southern West Virginia, there are a lot of jobs in prisons (and the teacher I met on my first night said that education and healthcare provide the most employment for the area), and while those jobs aren’t great, they aren’t terrible, either. Perhaps best of all, they don’t despoil the environment the way the extraction industries do. He brings up how building a highway into McDowell would be a tide that lifted all boats. First there would be a wave of construction jobs, those men would then spend more money locally, and then the highway would make accessing the area easier, so more businesses would inevitably arrive. It’s not just big projects that are necessary, though. He tells me that plumbing is so bad in some of the more rural areas that people catch water runoff from mountain streams. He also brings up what many people are talking about now—that COVID changed everything: Since working from home is becoming the norm, people are going to move to cheap areas. West Virginia can reap the benefits of that enormously—but only if highspeed internet becomes more widely available.

Stevens Correctional Center
Stevens Correctional Center

I tell him that I’ve been surprised at how everybody I’ve met around here seems proud of their state and their region, and that I haven’t found that to be the case in other poor areas. He and his girlfriend are especially interesting examples of this. It seems like almost every young progressive I’ve ever known hates where they’re from, can’t wait to leave, and loves to talk trash about wherever it is that they grew up. He laughs a little and says that since everyone else insults West Virginia, West Virginians refuse to do so. His girlfriend agrees, and he talks about how in the southern part of the state there’s a real sense of community and solidarity. In the public schools I attended in St. Paul, students were lectured constantly about “community.” The school was a community, gays were a community, the disabled were a community, the planet was a community of nations, we should all go to college and get jobs helping our “communities,” etc. It always felt so forced, so manufactured, that by the end of high school I thought I’d developed an allergy to the word. In college I knew a liberal who once told me he had an ex-girlfriend who was “active in the rave community.” But here, in West Virginia, the word actually seems to carry some freight, have some tangible implications.

It’s Hard to Be Humble
It’s Hard to Be Humble

Like everyone else I’d met, he wasn’t shy about the area’s problems. He has known people who died from overdoses, and said I wouldn’t find anyone who could say otherwise. But he was confident that the worst was behind the state, putting the grimmest year at 2017 or 2018. In my notes, I wrote, “Hope and Empathy in Southern WV” (vis-à-vis) “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

On Monday morning I went to an ATV shop in Welch and spoke with one of its owners. Incredibly, in the middle of the day he spoke with me for over an hour, pausing only a handful of times to attend to customers. He grew up in the area, and like everyone else who did, remembers its former glory, saying that when he was a kid, going to Welch on a Friday evening beat going to the beach on Saturday. He left the state in 1994 and says that at that point, the decline was apparent but still not bleak. He came back in 2013 and things had gotten much worse. His comments mostly fit the pattern I started noticing early on: Things are bad, but things are getting better— especially since the people who live in the area are the best folks you’ll find anywhere. “I know what was once here and I know it can come back,” he says. He’s a bit biased on the subject, but like everyone else, the growing ATV/tourism industry gives him a lot of hope.

ATV Rules
ATV Rules

Like the young man from the bar the night before, this guy explains how in southern West Virginia, the tourism industry and the extraction industries are locked in combat. Nature preserves and hiking trails create “no-go” zones for mining and lumber companies, so the latter fight hard against the creation of the former. Extraction brings in more money than tourism, but the resources they’re pulling out of the ground can’t last forever— tourism can last forever . . . so long as nobody destroys the area’s natural beauty. With no disrespect intended to the area, I can’t help but note that this same economic tension can be found throughout Latin America.

Warrior Trail System. On this trail map, my informant used a black sharpie to show me how much had recently been closed at the behest of one extraction industry or another.
Warrior Trail System. On this trail map, my informant used a black sharpie to show me how much had recently been closed at the behest of one extraction industry or another.

At one point his wife comes in and asks me pointblank if I’m an honest journalist. I say that I am, but admit that if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t say as much. She gives me a look and I assure her that I intend to quote everyone anonymously, which seems to mollify her. He then shares some horror stories with me about liberal journalists coming into town and making the area sound like a hellhole of poverty and stupid rednecks. I tell him the truth: That to my surprise, everybody here has a real dignity to them, and that their optimism seems based in reality.

Later on, a customer comes in without a shirt on and his chest sports a tattoo of Psalm 23— the one most famous for its line about the “valley of the shadow of death.” In the next few days, I bump into Psalm 23 again as a poster in a government office and another in a private dwelling.

I ask him about the drug crisis and he says, “We have a long way to go.” He shares a heartbreaking story about a woman in her late twenties who’d been clean for years until relapsing eight days ago. She died. “You just wait on that phone call,” he states flatly.

There’s a food bank across the street and I pop in to see if I can speak to one of the volunteers. Again, despite it being in the middle of a work day, I find someone who’s happy to set aside some time to talk to me. She’s a woman in her thirties from neighboring Wyoming County. She tells me upfront that she wants to talk only about the positive. We talk for a while about the logistics of her food bank and her high opinion of the mayor (the man at the ATV store said the same thing). Her recommendations for improving the area are fairly standard: better public transportation, a rehab center in Welch itself (not just relatively nearby), bringing down the high-level drug dealers, etc. By now I already feel like I’ve heard this a million times, but she tells me that it was the devastating floods of the early 2000s that really brought down Welch, much more so than the drugs the national media prefer to talk about.

Welch, WV, May 9, 2002 — The Dollar General in Welch, West Virginia lost its complete inventory the second time in two years due to the May 2, 2002 flash.  Bob McMillan/ FEMA Photo
Welch, WV, May 9, 2002 — The Dollar General in Welch, West Virginia lost its complete inventory the second time in two years due to the May 2, 2002 flash. Bob McMillan/ FEMA Photo

She tells me that, “I wanna see us be something,” and believes the drug problem is getting better, placing the worst of it at around 2018 or 2019. By now I had already heard several tragic stories about fatal overdoses, but when she tells me her husband died in March (without specifying the cause), it hits me harder than any other death I’ve heard about. She’s now a single mother of three, and still volunteers at a food bank. She admits to having thought about suicide, but that “God keeps me going.” She says she cries at night, not during the day. The last thing she tells me is that “McDowell County is a good place; it’s a whole lot more than we get credit for. We’re trying to get somewheres.”

I doubt if I’ll ever be able to convey this without sounding condescending, but there’s a noble durability to the people here that I’ve never encountered before. We’ve all faced hardship. I’ve known people who committed suicide and people who died from overdoses. The 2008 economic crash hit my family hard, too. But like with most things, hardship is a question of scale. The scale of grief so many of these people have endured is like nothing I’m familiar with. And yet they all seem happier, friendlier, and more optimistic than I am. Some might say I’m making “noble savages” out of the residents of southern West Virginia, but that’s not it. There’s nothing savage about them. Savages shoot at helicopters trying to evacuate hospitals because of a natural disaster. There’s nothing savage about volunteering at a food bank or running an ATV shop. I’ve lived in ghettoes before and seen plenty of savagery. Savagery is a gang of teenagers beating a pregnant woman to the ground. I’m still new in town, but it’s hard to imagine that happening in McDowell County.

I have a late lunch at a restaurant in Kimball, just a few miles from Welch. More than one person recommended that I speak to the woman who runs the place, another lifelong resident. She’s as friendly as everyone else and confirms a lot of what I’ve been hearing: It was the floods that really marked the beginning of the decline, there’s hope in the tourism and the incoming retirees, she remembers the good old days, etc. The mix of hope and frankness is as present in her as in anyone I’ve spoken to: “If ATVs are our lemons, let’s make lemonade. Will it be our salvation? Probably not.” If anything, she’s somewhat more frank than hopeful. I tell her I really appreciate her honesty when she concedes that bringing backs jobs isn’t as simple as building new businesses, because plenty of people in the area no longer want to work. She has more insight about the economics of the area than anyone else I’ve met, noting that Walmart came to town, ran everyone out of business, and then closed down. These are the kinds of stories that one day might just make a liberal out of me. She also tells me that a joke I’d heard earlier is actually a known saying: O ut here, after high school, you’ve got four options: college, military, mines, or fast food.

McDonalds hiring: \\$10 Per Hour
McDonalds hiring: \$10 Per Hour

She’s a first responder as well as a restauranteur, and it’s clear she’s seen a lot— and she wishes young people could see her dealing with the overdoses, the car wrecks, and the misery of it all. Her first year in the field was 1985, and she says this past year was the worst one she’s seen, likely because the COVID-related increase in welfare handouts gave a lot of unhealthy and unhappy people more money to spend (a few days later, a local journalist confirms this). As I write that, I realize that everyone I’ve spoken to has put the worst year at one or two years more recently than the person before. The millennial at the bar said 2017 or 2018, the woman at the food bank said 2018 or 2019, and this woman is saying 2020.

“Our people have some of the biggest hearts. If you have a problem, it’ll be a problem for everyone,” she tells me. She follows that up with a story from her time as a college student in New York City. Once, she was on the subway with some peers and saw a man have a seizure. She was the only person who ran over to try to help him. Not only did her fellow students do nothing, they told her she should stop trying to help because it could be some type of scam or setup. Perhaps the man was faking it so that he could pickpocket whoever came to his aid, or something like that. She told me that she still wonders about that day, if she should have done more because it was a real medical emergency, or if she should have done nothing at all. Apparently, people have told this woman to her face that she likes McDowell County only because she has no point of comparison. This is the story she always shares by way of reply. That kind of conundrum is unimaginable here.

At the risk of belaboring a point, this woman has seen more devastation and heartache than I probably ever will. But her story about New York City is very meaningful. The Big Apple has plenty of drugs and suicide, too. But the coldness of its people (which I’ve encountered firsthand) is a type of alien cruelty that’s inconceivable here. This wasn’t something I’d thought about at all when I made plans to come here.

The next person I speak to is an elected law enforcement official gracious enough to give me an interview. Police are normally leery of journalists, but this guy makes it clear he has nothing to hide. We talk about crime, of course, but more specifically, why it is that McDowell County has relatively little crime. “Experts” love to explain how poverty causes crime, but if that’s true, southern West Virginia is quite an outlier. He tells me that McDowell County averages one murder a year, although there were three in 2020, and that basically all crime is drug-related: possession of drugs, distribution of drugs, and theft/burglary to buy drugs. Despite that, people here don’t feel the need to always lock up their homes and their cars, and he notes that there’s nowhere in the whole county where someone would fear for their safety if their car broke down.

I ask him what he thinks could be done to fight the drug crisis and he doesn’t hesitate to tell me that tougher sentencing is need, “Holding jail terms over people’s heads is good,” he says. He talks a bit about how demoralizing it is to bust dealers and see them back in the streets only a few years later. Moreover, lighter sentencing has made it harder to get low-level arrestees to become informants or just squeal on the people above them in the food chain.

When I bring up tougher border security as a way to cut back on the flow of drugs, he agrees that it would help, but stresses that focusing on the southern border would not be enough. He wants to see better screening in the ports on the East Coast. Some have suggested that federal agencies, like the DEA or ATF, should come into the area to help stamp out the opioid scourge and I ask him if he thinks that would help. He says it could, but circles back to the issue of light sentencing. He points out that even if the FBI came in, all their expertise and resources wouldn’t make a difference if the people they bust still had to serve only a year or two in prison.

He’s the first person I speak to who is unwilling to say that things are definitely looking up: “I would never say the worst of the worst is behind us.” But like everyone else, he says the region’s citizens give him hope: “They’re not gonna give up.”

That night I get dinner at local restaurant in Roderfield, about ten minutes from Welch. Like the diner in Mercer County, its decor is solidly Christian Americana. The waitress is nice and clearly surprised that I want to speak to her about her own life, and life in general in this part of the country. She’s the first person I meet who isn’t from here. She grew up in a Buchanan County, one of the poorest parts of Virginia. With the help of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, she got an apartment nearby, believing there were more jobs in this area than in her home town. She concedes that she didn’t know how bad things were in McDowell when she came here. All the same, she’s done well for herself. She has a serious boyfriend and they want to move to Tennessee. She tells me she’s never been tempted to use drugs and doesn’t have anyone in her social circle who uses. She is very surprised when I tell her I think I would be tempted if I lived here. (To be perfectly honest, throughout my teens and early twenties, I partied a lot— with all the drug use that that implies. It’s grim to admit, but I’m not sure I would have made it past 25 if I’d grown up here.) She has more than a few horror stories of the kind you can easily find from other reporters who focus on the area’s dispossession, but she doesn’t want me sharing them. However, she is the first person to tell me that the drug crisis is getting worse, not better. When I ask her what she wishes outsiders knew about McDowell County she says, “I don’t know, I honestly don’t.”

God’s Corner
God’s Corner

The next morning, I interview the mayor of a town in McDowell County. Both he and the employee who makes our conversation happen are very clear that they don’t want to talk to me if I’m just going to write yet another sob story about how awful the area is. They’ve had plenty of journalists come through and pen bleak writeups about how miserable everyone in McDowell County is, and they hate being portrayed that way. I tell them that so far, just about everyone I’ve interviewed has been optimistic, and the area isn’t nearly as rough as I’d imagined. With that, the government employee gives me a useful list of people to speak with, and even makes an introduction or two.

The mayor is by far the most optimistic citizen I’ve spoken to. He says he has “no clue” why the area has a bad reputation and that “crisis” is too strong a word for the drug problem, the worst of which has long gone by. “Every place in the whole world has that issue,” he insists. While that’s true, it’s also not that simple. He talks a very big game about tourism, saying that the area can become another Dollywood, but he’s not building castles in the sky. He’s smart enough to note that although visiting dads will be happy to ride ATVs all week, the area needs to build things for mom and the kids to do: fishing ponds, ziplines, amusement parks, etc. Over and over as we talk, he says his boundless optimism is rooted in the goodness of the citizenry: “People are our greatest advantage,” “We’re a frontier that can make anything happen,” “We’re on the move and we’re gonna keep moving,” “We have the mentality there’s nothing we can’t do,” etc.

ATV Resort
ATV Resort

If I had met him on my first day, I’d have taken him for a total Pollyanna. But after speaking with so many locals, I can’t see why anyone shouldn’t have faith in this place and its people. His optimism is maybe a bit much, but he is, after all, a politician talking to an outsider (though, for the record, he did tell me unequivocally, “I don’t consider myself a politician”)— and he’s not wrong when he says a positive attitude at the top is necessary because it will filter down to everyone. When I push him on how strange it’s going to be for a region to transition from an industrial juggernaut to a tourist hamlet over the course of living memory, he admits that I’m right. But he won’t let that weirdness get to him. If that’s the change that needs to happen to keep the place afloat economically, then that’s what needs to be done. Like the restauranteur, he says something about making lemonade out of lemons.

On my way out, a government employee, presumably familiar with the mayor’s can-do attitude, reaffirms that this place really isn’t so bad, it’s not all drug addicts and desolation the way the mainstream portrays it. I tell him he’s right (because he is) and note that I have yet to hear gunfire— and I’ve lived in places where you hear it pretty often. “Oh, you will in hunting season,” he replies, grinning from ear to ear.

My next stop is another food bank. The woman who runs it was hesitant to speak with me, but by this point had already heard from other locals that I seemed alright. When we meet, she is absolutely insistent that I better not spin a tale of doom and gloom. She says that if I’m going to do that, I should leave, and that she has kicked journalists out of her food bank once it became clear they were just looking for sob stories. I swear up and down that I’m going to write honestly about what I find, and that so far, I’ve found more hope than anything else.

Playground mural
Playground mural

Perhaps I’m repeating myself to the point of tedium, but this woman, like so many other people out here, is a fascinating mix of brutal honestly about the area and indefatigable pride in its people and hope for its future. My notes from our conversation are a Jackson Pollack painting of this dialectic. She tells me that, “People let their hurts take them to the grave,” but, “I want to speak life into people.” She gives me a stern look and says, “Don’t think I don’t cry,” but that “every day is a new day.” More than anything else, she talks about choice. Eve had a choice in the Garden of Eden, and people here have a choice, too. She can’t stress the matter of choice enough, and it’s clear that for her, that’s the big source of hope. Addiction and despair are choices, not destinies. With choice, the future remains unwritten. I’m not convinced it’s as simple as that. But this woman is a force of nature. Her food bank is massive and it’s entirely privately funded. She shows me around and it’s well-stocked, to put it mildly, not only is there food but there’s school supplies, toiletries, just about everything, really. I’ve lived a life of privilege compared to this woman, but she’s the one doing God’s work. It doesn’t really feel like she’s given me any choice about feeling impressed and humbled.

I spend the afternoon driving around, trying to get a better feel for the area and hoping to find more people to interview. McDowell County isn’t especially populous, but it’s still huge: 535 square miles. Atlanta, one of the most spread-out cities in the country is just 134 square miles. Every store here (restaurants, gas stations, pharmacies, etc.) has a sign advertising that they sell passes for the Hatfield-McCoy Trail, the main tourist attraction.

I make it to Bradshaw, which many people in Welch seem to consider the more rural, more redneck part of the county. I didn’t get that sense, but it’s certainly poorer than just about every other town I’ve visited. I try to go to a town called War next, but my phone loses all reception and internet connectivity. I get hopelessly lost, and honestly, War might be so small that I drove through it and didn’t notice. When I finally figure out how to get back to Welch it starts pouring rain, and with the roads being as curvy and narrow as they are, with no shoulder to pull off onto, for a few minutes I wonder if I’m going to make it back in one piece.

Bradshaw Economy Drug
Bradshaw Economy Drug
Empty Bradshaw Building
Empty Bradshaw Building

When I get back to where I’m staying, I’m so exhausted that I take a nap. I’m probably just an ugly outsider for saying this, but I really have no idea how people here deal with these roads, especially since you need to drive to get anything. A few hours later, I drive to Pineville in neighboring Wyoming County and step into the Ole’ Jose Grill and Cantina. It’s the first complete tourist trap I’ve been to out here. Everyone inside is an ATVer, and the restaurant has a generic, antiseptic atmosphere that I can’t stand.

Map of McDowell County
Map of McDowell County

Back in Welch, I walk down into a valley of sorts behind a row of apartment buildings. There’s a big park with a pool, basketball courts, etc. Southern West Virginia has a reputation for being solidly White, but McDowell County is actually almost 10 percent Black. At the pool, it suddenly feels like I’m in a big city again. Everyone there is Black except the White lifeguards. Unruly kids are running around everywhere, it’s loud, and not just because someone is blaring rap from a set of speakers. One guy is driving his ATV back and forth on a little pathway, making all kinds of racket. The smell of marijuana is unmistakable. I wasn’t born yesterday, so I leave. The Whites I’ve met here aren’t much like Whites I’ve met elsewhere, but the texture of Black behavior is always the same. See, for example, this music video made by some of the area’s aspiring rappers. I believe it was filmed in one of the apartment buildings near this pool.

That night I go to interesting local business in Welch. By day, it’s something of a family restaurant with pizza and burgers. But it’s also got a bar you can smoke at, and an adjacent enclosed room filled with slot machines. I get a sandwich and some coffee and start chatting with the White girl working the register who’s just a few years younger than me.

She’s impeccably sweet and all too happy to pass the time with someone new. She volunteers her life story with little coaxing. It’s intense, to be sure. There’s drug use, illegitimate children, legal trouble, etc. And yet, her positivity shines through it all. She plans on staying in the area because it’s where all her family is. Moreover, the people here are great. Earlier that day, she’d gotten a flat tire and found help in no more than 15 minutes. “It’s boring [here], but help is always just 15 minutes away,” she observes.

Doors of a Welch Pharmacy
Doors of a Welch Pharmacy

Much of what she says I’ve heard before at this point: The floods were the beginning of the end, the tourism industry is a sign of hope, that the loss of the local Walmart was devastating, that not only is there a need for more grocery stores but for social spaces as well (arcades, bowling alleys, etc.). I ask her if working where she does has made her think gambling should be banned. While she admits that she sees plenty of people spend way too much time and money at the slots, she notes that the thrill people get from gambling is still much better than the ever-present alternative for thrills: drugs. She follows that up by pointing out that if addicts lose all their money gambling, that’s just less money they can spend on poison. That perspective is cynical, but she might be on to something.

She can’t say for sure when the worst year of the drug crisis was, and isn’t willing to say that the worst of it is over. I wonder if that’s informed by her own past drug use. At the end of the night, her own version of the area’s signature blend of pride and pessimism gets especially intense. She says she wishes outsiders knew that people in McDowell County are normal, not shoeless hillbillies. When I ask her for her best prediction for what the area will be like in 40 years, her answer startles me: She says by then, there might not be anything left, that everyone will have died or left. Even still, she says, “if the apocalypse comes, I’d still rather be here than in a big city.”

I’ve never been religious, but that night I talk with some devout New Englanders who live near where I’m staying. They came to the area on an uplift mission and ended up staying and starting a family. The husband tells me with no hesitation that if he were an atheist, he’d be cynical about the area and have left long ago. But he isn’t. Moreover, he says it’s the people here who teach him about God, not vice versa. On top of that, he tells me that the misery these people have endured is spiritually redemptive, and that God will reward them for it in the next life. I can’t help but find a certain logic to this. These people have every reason to be angry, and could come up with a long list of excuses for self-destruction and nihilism, but none of that is in play here, at least not in an endemic way. It’s hard to know exactly what to make of it.

Old Country Church
Old Country Church

The next day I drive, sharp turns all the way, to a rehab center in neighboring Mingo County. It’s a live-in place for women only, and the staff is kind enough to let me anonymously interview any resident willing to talk to me. I speak to three women back-to-back over the course of about an hour and a half. It’s a gut-punch that leaves me reeling and desperately wondering if I just crashed up against a brutal reality-check. I’m not unfamiliar with people who have messed up families, broken marriages, and checkered pasts, but these three women’s stories are on another level. I don’t want to indulge in “pity porn” or make them feel like their privacy has been violated, so I’m going to skip the gory details.

But more than the hell they’ve all been through, what gets to me is how they answer my questions at the end of each interview. Not one of them said there was any reason to think things will get better. Not one was willing to say the worst of the drug crisis was in the rearview mirror. In short, they all said things will only disintegrate further, and that everyone who’d told me otherwise was out-and-out lying to me, lying to themselves, or both. Here are some quotes from the three of them:

“It’s more than a crisis.”

“It’s only gotten worse so far.”

“The [types of] drugs will change but I don’t think the scenario ever will.”

“These other people are feeding you some bullshit.”

“It’s only going to get worse.”

“I know if I were on drugs, I’d feed you a bunch of bullshit. Just being honest.”

I drive back to Welch wondering what on Earth to believe. I return to the bar I went to my first night in town and can’t help but tell the first person who will listen about what I just heard. She tells me the women at the rehab center may well be right. She grew up here, left, and came back. She’s struggled with addiction and still hates the doctors who got her started. “I’m not supposed to be here,” she says, and tells me she’ll be leaving again when she gets the chance.

Staying at this bar and knocking back more beer is not a good idea, so I leave to meet up with the religious New Englanders I’d met a few days ago. Almost as if the whole day has been scripted, the wife tells me she can’t imagine enduring all this chaos without trusting fully in God’s plan. That’s not just the opinion of an outsider, either. Most of the locals here seem to feel the same way. Not all of them, of course, but a lot of them. The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky once said, “If someone succeeded in proving to me that Christ was outside the truth, and if, indeed, the truth was outside Christ, then I would sooner remain with Christ than with the truth.” Everyone in this part of the country is a thousand times more resilient than me. That sounds corny, but it’s true. And their faith is a cornerstone of that reality. It occurs to me that my atheism has nothing to offer people here, but that their God, with his courage, forgiveness, and long view, has a lot to offer me— regardless of whether he exists. What’s more is that my lack of faith isn’t slowing anybody down out here, but their spiritual confidence really does give me a sense of hope. It was just the other day that the male half of this couple told me the locals teach him about God, not the other way around. The faithful have crises of faith, but what’s discussed less often is that atheists have crises of disbelief. In that moment, I started to feel like a character in a Flannery O’Connor story who sees the grace of God just before some gothic horror strikes them.

Over the course of my last two days there I do a lot more driving. I visit all the cities closest to Welch that people have named as the best places nearby: Tazewell, Virginia; Bluefield, West Virginia; and Beckley, West Virginia. Tazewell is cute; an interesting mix of God’s country (unvandalized Confederate monuments, MAGA signs, and motorcycles) and the kind of bucolic small town our liberal elites love to vacation in (local brewery, pricey coffee shops, and a fancy brunch spot). Bluefield is a bigger, less poor Welch. There are boarded up shops right alongside nice office buildings. Beckley is like one of those mid-sized cities you stop to get gas in on a road trip. It’s perfectly pleasant and middle-class, but doesn’t have much character. I go to a few museums about mining and feel much more like a tourist than a journalist.

Tazewell Confederate Monument
Tazewell Confederate Monument
Bluefield Office
Bluefield Office
Empty Bluefield Building
Empty Bluefield Building

When not meandering, I spend much of my last 48 hours with two fascinating Welch locals, a woman in her fifties and a man a few years older than me. They’re the smartest people I’ve met out here, and over the course of hours of conversation with them, they humble me over and over again. At her age, and having lived almost her whole life in McDowell, there’s nothing she hasn’t seen, but she’s still here, still surviving, still hopeful, and still working for a better tomorrow. He’s basically my age, but his life has been tougher than anything I can comprehend. I don’t know how he manages to share so many stories about overdoses and suicides without crying, but he does.

At the end of the week, I drive home and there’s everything to think about alone in my car for hours and hours. It’s as if I can’t even remember what I was expecting to find now that I’ve seen so much. Southern West Virginia is poor, and the stories of its heartbreak could fill the Library of Congress a hundred times over. But I knew all that before I got there— you probably did, too. However, it’s not some kind of “big White ghetto” in the midst of a Hobbesian war of all against all. I’ve really never met kinder people. I’ve also never met a people more determined to withstand it all and persevere. The place enlightened me— but only after it humbled me. All of us really do have a lot to learn from these people. Marcus Aurelius wrote that, “Nothing can happen to any man that nature has not fitted him to endure. Your neighbor’s experiences are no different from your own; yet he, being either less aware of what has happened or more eager to show his mettle, stands steady and undaunted. For shame, that ignorance and vanity should prove stronger than wisdom!” My Christian friends assure me that Christ agrees. I couldn’t tell you if God is real, but after a week in Welch, I do know for certain that God smiles upon southern West Virginia— and on the rest of us as well.

(Republished from The Occidental Observer by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Thomasina says:

    That was lovely, a very well-written piece. Thank you.

    Simplicity, humility, honesty and love – a love for something more than themselves. All the money in the world can’t buy you that.

  2. G. Poulin says:

    On two separate occasions in my youth I experienced the generosity and hospitality of West Virginians, while I was hitch-hiking through the state. Both times, it was getting late in the day, and I was picked up, brought home to meet the wife and kids, given supper, given a place to sleep, given breakfast in the morning, and given a ride back to the main road where I could resume my travels. These were not well-off people, either. Hospitality is in their DNA.

    • Thanks: ruralguy
  3. BuelahMan says:

    Sounds a lot like my hometown.

  4. Cowboy says:

    Good read

    Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.

  5. Excellent journalism, not far off from what Linh Dinh writes, especially his series from Albania. I guess that rural White people are the same everywhere. The older I get, the less I like decaying cities. I’ll never go to another MLB, NFL, or NBA game.

    In my rural PA county, the population has been going down in every census. A modern 4 lane divided highway was opened a few year ago that was supposed to bring industry and commerce. So far it hasn’t. It’s an expensive toll road that locals avoid like the plague. It’s nearly deserted every time I drive it.

    People come from miles around to shop at our local Walmart Super Center. It’s located within short walking distance from our indoor Mall, which used to be full and thriving, but is now nearly empty, with only a JC Penney left to save it since Sears bit the dust. If the Walmart closed we’d soon be like McDowell County. I like Walmart and shop there often, though, like everywhere else, it’s prices keep rising.

    Everywhere I look there are help wanted signs. Restaurants can’t operate at full capacity as they can’t find locals who want to work. Walmart can’t keep enough cashiers, so half the store is now self checkout.

    My area sounds similar to southernmost WV, although somewhat better off economically. We have the same problem with drugs and single mothers. I’m too old to want to leave it. As an un-vaxxed deplorable in Biden’s America, I feel the walls caving in. Where would I go anyway?

    • Agree: ruralguy
  6. Catdog says:

    Beautiful article.

    • Agree: Richard B
  7. R.C. says:

    I once drove through WV checking out the leaves and hauling ass on and off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was deer season, and every third shoulder had a scoped rifle on it. Everyone knew what I learned young – safe firearm handling skills. Never felt safer.
    As re this:

    Perhaps I’m a jaded right-winger, but despite his obvious intelligence, some of what he says strikes me as naïve. He thinks all drugs should be legalized, and that removing the “stigma” of drug addiction would go a long way in solving the opioid crisis. I have a great deal of empathy for addicts, but there’s never going to be any way of removing the “stigma” around a class of people who will lie, steal, and take advantage of those closest to them in order to get a fix.

    I get the impression that you’ve not really analyzed what legalizing drugs would do. First, all of the high cost of drugs would go back to the floor level they always were at before government stuck its ugly nose in it, which would remove the whole ‘steal for drugs’ routine – and with it all the BS ‘it wasn’t me, it was the drugs’ BS. (You did learn about Prohibition, right?) Also, legalizing drugs IS a more ‘right wing’ approach, if you look at it from the concept of what and when the government should have a right to tell folks not to do – to themselves! Learn about real ‘libertarianism’ which IS right/conservative (less government and more individual responsibility.)
    You should pay closer attention to what the good lady said – it’s about individual responsibility and ‘choice.’
    R.C.

  8. Quizzler says:

    Very nice article. My paternal grandparents were born in Raleigh County. Lived in Crab Orchard till sometime around 1940 but not sure when they left. Their house burned down and the 2 youngest children(boy and girl) died. Sometime after they moved to Glynn County, Georgia. It was around the time of the 1940 census but I cannot find them…my Dad none of them. Oddly my maternal grandparents in Glynn County, Georgia I could not find in the census either. My biological maternal grandfather died as a private in the Army in December 1943. So, my disappointment at not finding them in the 1940 census was crushing. I was born in 1955….going to West Virginia I found and still find it beautiful country, lots of family still there but I am not close to any of them. But I dislike the COLD winters…can visit but never live year round.

  9. Antiwar7 says:

    It’s a cliché, but it’s said that the average poor person is more generous than the average rich person. I don’t know enough rich people to judge. What do other people think?

    • Agree: Trinity, St-Germain, ruralguy
    • Replies: @Bert
  10. Antiwar7 says:
    @R.C.

    Exactly. With legalization, all the resources directed at interdiction could be used for treatment (always in short supply), you remove a major source of corruption and violence, and people don’t have to steal to pay for it.

    • Replies: @Anon
  11. Trinity says:

    Whoa. Long article. Read to the part about “experts” claiming that “poverty caused crime.” I would always bring up West Virginia when someone parroted that bullshit lie. I think I might have found a place to live out my last years.

    Cue: Country Roads by John Denver

    • Agree: Ed
    • Replies: @Jack McArthur
    , @Decoy
  12. Rebel Roy says:

    Thank you.I enjoyed it greatly.I also like that you went into some detail as well.Also thanks to Unz for providing a rare place for the wonderful articles I only seem to find here.God bless all here.Take care.

    • Agree: ruralguy
    • Replies: @3g4me
    , @chris
  13. Wait. Wut? You mean these people are not domestic terrorists?

    • Replies: @Fred777
  14. Did you try a gyro when you were eating at Ya’sou deli? Who would expect a Greek place there? Ah, but 100 years ago Mack-Dow County was swarming with European immigrants. The last vestige is Ya’Sou and a few Catholic churches. Soon all will be forgotten except for the occasional hillbilly with a Spanish or Polish last name that got “left behind.” The area which was once ascending will have had the distinction of having acquired civilization and then lost it.

  15. Dan Hayes says:

    When I was a youngster, West Virginia had the reputation of being materially poor with honest, upright people. Glad to hear that it still holds!

    • Replies: @animalogic
  16. @Trinity

    Cue: Country Roads by John Denver

    I was thinking the same and why not:

    Almost heaven, West Virginia
    Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
    Life is old there, older than the trees
    Younger than the mountains, growin’ like a breeze

    Country roads, take me home
    To the place where I belong
    West Virginia, mountain momma
    Take me home, country roads…

  17. 36 ulster says:
    @follyofwar

    I’m fortunate to live in a solid neighborhood in MY declining city, but, like you I don’t know if the walls (or dikes, if you will) can hold.

  18. Anybody else here have fond memories of music festivals at Sunshine Daydreams Festivals at Trip’s Farm in Terra Alta?

    R.I.P. Dude

    He helped support a lot of music acts. Phenomenal music up in the hills.

    We would always drive in backroads all the way, took longer, but breathtaking scenery. When I see pink (meaning ice rain) on the weather map for that region it makes me cringe a little thinking about some of those hairpin turns at the bottom of hills with big drop offs and inadequate safety rails, if any.

    I could easily live there. Nice people.

  19. @R.C.

    which would remove the whole ‘steal for drugs’ routine

    It might remove the need to steal in order to pay for drugs, but it would not remove the utter devastation drugs wreak upon the addict. Alcohol is as cheap as can be, yet it devastates millions of lives around the world. Opiates are far, far more addictive than alcohol.

    I don’t favor any sort of “Prohibition”, but I also think legalization of drugs would make things worse, not better. Imagine walking down the street in any American city and wondering where the hell all the people are. They aren’t robbing anyone – they are sitting quietly behind closed doors, stoned out of their minds. Those few that you see on the streets resemble nothing more than the Walking Dead (except they have no craving for human flesh – or for anything else other than another hit of their drug of choice).

    • Replies: @R.C.
    , @animalogic
  20. It seems like almost every young progressive I’ve ever known hates where they’re from, can’t wait to leave, and loves to talk trash about wherever it is that they grew up.

    This is exactly what David Lebedoff said in The New Elite forty years ago. Anyone from any background is welcome to join this “élite”. The only stipulation is that you betray that background. This was updated in his The Uncivil War in 2005.

    Lebedoff got his start in Minneapolis in the early Humphrey years, and never left.

    • Replies: @utu
  21. Truth says:

    All my life, liberals have told me that poor Whites are just as pathological as poor blacks, and that the dispossessed residents of Appalachia are just as violent and dysfunctional as the citizens of Chicago’s Southside. Walking back from the bar, I chuckle thinking about how I could go into 100 bars in Black ghettoes and never have one conversation with a local about the area as pleasant as the one I just had.

    (Clap…Clap…Clap)

    Well isn’t that sweet, these silly suckers are unlike black people because after their granddaddy and daddy died in their 40s in the coal mines, after their daughter got knocked up by his third babbydaddy, and after their two sons can’t get off meth and fentanyl, they still have optimism.

    Oh yeah, a billionaire is putting a Taco Bell in to encourage more of them to die of heart diseade…get psyched!

    And oh, we love Tha Donald! We might even get around to registering to vote… if he comes back to run again at 80!

    The American Dream. How wonderful it is for those superior Honkees. Yes, they are are dumb as rocks, and yes 84% of them live on the dole, yes they aspire to a \$10 an hour job at the jail where they can slide their cousin Cletus, the child-molester an extra biscuit, but gosh-darnit, they play their music at socialy-acceptable level.*

    “And hey, let’s all just take this Covid thigameebop to keep us safe. Our billionaire Republican Governor, (who was a demonrat until Tha Donald got elected) says it a-needs a little tinkerin’ but he’s one of us!”

    *Even if it is rap anyway…

  22. Anonymous[312] • Disclaimer says:

    Thanks, Mr. Martin, for writing such a beautiful and heartfelt piece. I have distant relatives from West Virginia whom I met at a family reunion. They are as you depict, kind-hearted, generous Christians with faith in tomorrow and the day after. While not southern W.Va., where you visited, but the northern part of the state — Preston, Randolph, Tucker counties — I found the scenery much as you depict, and the conflict between resource extraction industries and tourism seemed very similar. And the roads! Hairpin curve after hairpin curve! But not much traffic, other than 14-wheel coal trucks.
    Love West Virginia and especially West Virginians!

    • Agree: 3g4me
  23. AceDeuce says:
    @Truth

    You can desperately spew all your stereotypical misinformed shallow booschitt, but I’d much rather be around the lowest White people than the highest nigros.

    • Replies: @Truth
  24. So are you taking Linh Dinh’s place? Because I’ll miss Linh Dinh! And how’se about a “grace and grit” post in far west Texas? It’s drier and has mountain lions, but still….

  25. TKK says:

    Christopher Martin: Thank you for this and Ron Unz, thank you for publishing it.

    Remember…..middle class housing in that area, Welch and 30 miles out, is being bought up by Black Rock. I would see a listed house and it would have a pending offer in 30 minutes. This happened to about 50 houses. I was a cash buyer and was out manuevered at every angle.

    Reading about the blacks in Welch shocked me….but now it is all clicking into place.

    I hope they don’t ruin McDowell County.

    And, your complaints about the switchback roads are 100% valid. My mother became violently carsick there, riding in my passenger seat.

    And….when I drive in that part of WV, and the gloaming comes…I feel so empty, sad and isolated. It’s almost a panic. There is something about those mountains. If you were not loved and were alone living there…the fuzzy blissful embrace of any narcotic would be hard to resist.

    • Replies: @Thomasina
    , @Truth
  26. Truth says:
    @AceDeuce

    …And you are.

    Will miracles never cease?

    • Disagree: AceDeuce
  27. Billy Ash says:

    My God! 9,000 words, and I enjoyed every one. Mr. Unz please publish more articles like this.
    Thank you both.

    • Agree: some_loon
  28. anonymous[429] • Disclaimer says:
    @Thomasina

    And this is the HUMAN portrait of a calculated DISASTER…well planned, and methodically executed to destroy/demoralize exterminate WHITE Deplorables..free trade, DEsindustrlzation, open borders to import cheap illegal NOnwhite labor …and give them the quick exit of unemployment, nihilism, suicide and DRUGS…plenty od DRUGS..and IT worked …it made the Sackler Family BILLIONAIRES by ILEGALLY selling/dumping/force medical compsuntyion of massive OPIODS on the entire population…a profitable criminal enterprisse (tax finance Obama care) and yet never prosecuted. These are the white deplorabls that killed and died to open the West, built the USA with Coal energy, fought WW I, WW II, defeated Hitler, died in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and now they are WHITE Supremacists domestic terrorists (on opidos?) the number one threat against America according to the AG/DOJ they must be genocide and they are..

    • Agree: profnasty, 3g4me, Fr. John
    • Replies: @Truth
  29. Terribly written.

    The whole article is, “me, me, me.”

    How many times are you going to say you’re going to “skip the details” because you don’t want to violate blah blah blah. Then what the hell am I reading? It’s not a piece about West Virginia; it’s a piece about how you don’t want a write a piece about West Virginia. Your duty is to your readers first, jackass. Keep this crap in your unpublished diary.

    • LOL: Truth
    • Replies: @Sollipsist
  30. R.C. says:
    @HorriblyDepressed

    I detect that you’ve never lived in a world where such were reasonably inexpensive as they should be and always were up until around the early 20th century in the U.S. I did although it was only in the era when pot was real and coke was pure. (SWIM first indulged in the early 70’s.)
    The drug war has been but a part (one of the main ones) that removed individuals’ responsibility for their own actions; that’s always been a part of the plan.
    A request: Read ‘Drug Warriors And Their Prey’, by Miller, and report back.
    R.C.

    • Replies: @Bro43rd
  31. Paladin says:

    How is it that Robert Byrd didn’t provide this area with some federal behemoth which guaranteed employment? Was his legendary profligacy with tax dollars confined to loyal areas only which this one wasn’t? Or some other cause?

  32. Anonymous[294] • Disclaimer says:

    With the repeated mentions of “ghettos” the author is trying to say something without coming out and saying it: there’s a distinct lack of Negrosity in this corner of West Virginia. And that’s part of its charm.

    And yes, legalize all drugs rather than subsidize the Drug Police Prison Industrial Complex. I don’t enjoy opiates/oids except for post-surgical pain so I’ll be fine and heroin is less harmful to the body than alcohol.

    • Replies: @profnasty
    , @Truth
  33. Bert says:
    @Antiwar7

    The saying is true, but it applies to the upper-middle class at least as much as to the rich. There seem to be obvious reasons why financial security inversely correlates with generosity. A lot of selfish intent is required to reach middle-management or academic tenure; small businesspeople are likely more generous than other upper-middle class professionals because selfishness must be tempered by the necessities of customer satisfaction. The absolutely most selfish professionals are academics; their mindset is that of gulag guards. Another reason for the inverse correlation is that selfishness is transmitted inter-generationally in the upper-middle class both culturally and genetically. Perhaps also White people of lesser means understand the “There but for the Grace of God” perspective.

    • Agree: Joe Paluka, Bubba
    • Replies: @Old Brown Fool
  34. @R.C.

    “but there’s never going to be any way of removing the “stigma” around a class of people who will lie, steal, and take advantage of those closest to them in order to get a fix”
    Yes. This is more a function of the black market nature of the product than the product itself (imagine a famine situation & the behaviours that could generate)
    However, this is a great article. The writer learns, & empathises & is humbled. So is the reader.
    One interesting thing — its almost a contradiction, is that the writer speaks almost entirely with people who are not literally themselves suffering the despair of drug addiction etc. So their optimism etc seems unattached from the reason why they are hopeful not despairing. The article assumes the the despair, but never really exposes us to it. Yes, I know, the author does not want to engage in “pity porn”. But I would have appreciated the writer speaking to some actual “addicts” & getting the gist of their personal stories.

    • Replies: @anaccount
  35. @HorriblyDepressed

    “Opiates are far, far more addictive than alcohol.” I think that is open to debate. The fact that alcohol is a poison & destroys organs (ie the liver esp) and that opiates are not (ie they are non-toxic) is however beyond debate.

    “I don’t favor any sort of “Prohibition”, but I also think legalization of drugs would make things worse, not better. Imagine walking down the street in any American city and wondering where the hell all the people are. They aren’t robbing anyone – they are sitting quietly behind closed doors, stoned out of their minds. ”
    I cant see how the absence of crime is NOT an improvement.
    I would suggest you look at Portugal — yes far from perfect, but miles better than it was prior to its legal & cultural changes.

  36. @Dan Hayes

    I believe that General Robert, E Lee was from Virginia. A greater Gentleman & man of honour it would be hard to find.

  37. Thomasina says:
    @TKK

    What is clicking into place? Is Black Rock buying up these homes to rent to blacks? If there are no jobs, how are the blacks affording to pay rent? Welfare? If so, what a business plan! Tenants who are never behind in rent.

    • Replies: @Bubba
  38. profnasty says:

    Perfect article. It reflects the boredom of life in South WV. I spent two years in War,WV one summer. Homeboy couldn’t even get that far. Hell, he even cut out the interesting part about the rehab chicks. Perfect.
    FYI 90% of the people are nice. Ten percent spend summers in NYC. Get it?
    I knew you would.
    Ciao baby.

  39. If any of the Sackler family are ever hung, they should be hanged in West Virginia, the place that they’ve done the most damage to.

    • Thanks: Fr. John
  40. profnasty says:
    @Anonymous

    He said the groids are there.
    Ten percent and hiphoppin mad.
    Try to keep up.

  41. Svevlad says:

    I’d rather say West Virginia’s problem is a geographic one:

    It’s mountainous. And not just any sort of mountainous, it’s the worst possible kind of mountainous – almost 100% unusably steep slopes with incredibly narrow valleys. Infrastructure automatically becomes extremely expensive, agricultural land is minimal, roads are slow and long due to all the turns, no space for towns…

    It only had coal going for it – and now, due to the costs changing, it isn’t so worthwhile anymore. Tourism is a good alternative – but it will never maintain a great population.

  42. WJ says:
    @Truth

    Dude, try not to be so angry. It’s not healthy.

    • Replies: @Truth
  43. “I’m used to urban ghettoes where nobody thinks anything will get better and where apathy is so pronounced the question of whether the area will improve doesn’t even really make sense to ask, much less answer.”

    That’s the difference between Whites and blacks; the former is the race that crossed the ocean in rickety boats to conquer a vast land and built new nations and the latter couldn’t navigate a pond let alone build a nation.

    • Agree: AceDeuce
  44. I am an Australian who visited northern Kentucky and southern West Virginia in 1996. Twenty five years later my fondest memories are of the amazingly friendly folk that I had the good fortune to meet while I was there. I love them to bits. I was even invited to a wedding. I accepted and attended.

  45. anonymous[139] • Disclaimer says:

    “It pays to be poor”. Funny observation but very true. Be careful what you wish for. If the place gets too popular outsiders will start horning in, changing it in the process. Big money might start buying up land to develop it as a vacation spot for moneyed tourists who’ll have a condescending attitude toward the locals. To keep being themselves people will have to recognize the ‘worth of worthlessness’.
    How bad is the drug problem compared to many northern cities where there are huge numbers of homeless addicts sacking out in tent encampments? How about the crime problem?
    These people are Hilary’s “deplorables”, the object of hatred on the part of many self-righteous woke types throughout the country.

  46. There are many, many towns like this all over America. I’ve been looking at a few to retire/vacation to. It seems most young people are moving to the big metropolitan areas for job opportunities.

    Steve Earle guitar town https://youtu.be/AINUPFbFpqg?t=7

  47. Incredible — an entire article about Welch, West Virginia, that does not mention Jeannette Walls’ book “Glass Castle” that spent five years on the best seller list?

    https://www.bdtonline.com/news/the-glass-castle-movie-based-on-former-welch-resident-s-memoir-set-for-release-aug/article_6bb3ea26-7594-11e7-88c8-7be5196612a7.html

    • Replies: @3g4me
  48. One-off says:

    Until people accept biological reality, actual science for the ignoramuses who claim to fucking love it, they will operate under the delusion genetics play no role in black dysfunction. These Whites in dirt poor Southern West Virginia are in fact racially superior than wealthy blacks in, say, Montgomery County Maryland and far less prone to violence than them.

    All the equity in the world will not erase the genetic predisposition of blacks for dysfunction, and no one knows this better than the Jews who use them as biological weapons against Whites, who they try to poison with opiates in places beyond their claws.

    • Agree: Fr. John
    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  49. @Svevlad

    Great point. In this sense, West Virginia is the canary in the coal mine called civilization. Coal allowed West Virginians to live beyond their means just as various power sources have allowed civilization to live beyond its means. All the various power sources are tapping out just as coal is, so West Virginia is the future. Thank goodness for the opioids. We’ll all be addicts soon enough. Hell, we already are. We’re addicted to growth.

  50. Decoy says:
    @Trinity

    Beautifully written. My main takeaway is like several others have mentioned. Virtually every Democrat politician will spout the line that inner city out of control criminal activity would plunge to normal rates if only jobs and money would return those areas. I don’t think so. It’s the culture and that’s not changing anytime soon. The stark difference in attitude and demeanor between small city low income West Virginians and South Side Chicagoans is stark. The national media will never address the contrast.

    • Agree: Trinity, InnerCynic
  51. Trinity says:

    Troof is just mad because poor Whites in West Virginia DEBUNK that (((bullshit))) about poverty being a root cause of criminal activity. In other words, Blacks commit crimes because they are lazy, lowlife, immoral suckas that are useless to any productive society. Even the ones with jobs don’t work, all they basically do is collect a paycheck for being affirmative action mascots.

    • Agree: 3g4me
    • Replies: @Alfa158
  52. Cowboy says:
    @Truth

    A fine polemic.

    Maybe if we got the nice negro church ladies and the nice honkee church ladies together for a tea we could fix all this shit and the possibilities of that happening are still 10x more likely than the government finding a solution.

    • Replies: @Dan Hayes
    , @Truth
    , @IreneAthena
  53. moi says:
    @Jack McArthur

    Sad that WVa is the butt of so many jokes. It’s a beautiful state with simple people who’ve screwed over.

    • Agree: Joe Paluka
    • Replies: @Jack McArthur
  54. Richard B says:
    @Thomasina

    I’ve really never met kinder people.

    Which is exactly why Jewish Supremacy Inc. cruelly targeted and scapegoated them, and not just them.

    They even do this, albeit in reverse, with their paid proxies. Their useful idiots (whites) are just that. They’re more than willing to be used and have no problem with it as they have no dignity or self-respect and no problem projecting their self-hatred onto other whites because they have no conscience.

    And that’s pretty much the Western world today, JSI, their Paid Proxies and Useful Idiots and Designated Scapegoats. Only the latter is worth caring about. Still, as painful as it is to say, it has to be said, and that requires that one muster the courage to face the very unpleasant, but undeniable fact that,

    You Get What You Put Up With!

    All of this will only stop when JSI‘s Designated Scapegoat decides to stop putting up with it. But does anyone see that happening, in time? Or has that time already passed?

    • Replies: @Jack McArthur
  55. Dan Hayes says:
    @Cowboy

    Wishful Thinking! When push comes to shove, race is always the determining factor!

  56. I have lived in West Virginia for the last 20 years – coming here from Florida. One thing that I will comment on – it is the older West Virginians who are hospitable and open – the younger men can be just as mean and crooked as anyone else. Just a week ago, I had to abandon my car on a country road – the battery was dead – sure enough the next morning I found the key in the ignition – someone had gone through the trouble to try to drive it off – way out on a country road. and a warning to anyone thinking of moving to any small rural area – you will probably never get hired – any good job (especially any government job) is considered to be the birth right of someone actually born here – you will be the last hired. If your Mother wasn’t in the same 5th grade class as your potential boss, forget it. But if you have money already, you will be very welcome to be here – but be wary of strangers approaching you with verbal proposals wanting to do property improvements for you – the locals know the “jack-leggers”, but you won’t.

    • Replies: @3g4me
    , @Anon
    , @Joe Paluka
  57. Once upon a time not too long ago a famous socialist philosopher said that religion was the opiate of the people. He went on to write other stuff but this rings true when considering the effect it seems to have in the area under consideration.

    People need to feel good. That is what drugs, legal or illegal do. Those who are able to make do with psychological drugs are probably better off than those needing chemical help. Especially when the addiction overwhelms the user. Drugs that ease pain are probably less addictive than those that produce euphoria.

    The question is, why is there so much pain. Is it real, or is it psychological. Being rejected by the love of your life causes pain, but is it the same as the pain of stubbing your toe? Maybe.

  58. utu says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Oikophobia – “In his 2004 book England and the Need for Nations, British philosopher Roger Scruton adapted the word to mean “the repudiation of inheritance and home.”[6] He argues that it is “a stage through which the adolescent mind normally passes,”[7] but that it is a feature of some, typically leftist, political impulses and ideologies that espouse xenophilia, i.e. preference for foreign cultures.” – Wiki

  59. Trinity says:
    @Jack McArthur

    Every time I hear this song I think back to when I was a kid watching a Baltimore Orioles game at the old Memorial Stadium in the early 1970s. The O’s were warming up in the infield and I can still see Boog Powell get a little pep in his step when this tune came on. haha. So this song makes me think about Boog Powell. Funny how you associate certain songs with moments in your life. Baltimore had more than their share of W. Virginia transplants back in the day, perhaps this is why “Bawlmer” is the stepchild of the whole Eastern Seaboard. Even when Bmore was a great place, it was viewed as “country” by Washington, D.C. snobs and New Yawk elitists. “Smalltimore” was one of many nicknames that Baltimore acquired over the years.

    Baltimore has even been playing another old John Denver hit, “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” during seventh inning stretches for decades now. It has been a tradition there since the Seventies. Of course now all those White transplants from places like Virginia, W. Virginia, North Carolina, Southern Pa., Georgia and Tennessee have left Bmore. These poor Whites helped build Baltimore into a great city, and now the Blacks have destroyed this once great city just like they do everywhere they TAKE UP SPACE.

    Baltimore has went from “Streets Of Baltimore” by Bobby Bare to “Baltimore” by Nina Simone. hehe. Give me the good White folks of W. Virginia any day of the week over some annoying New Yawk Puerto Rican, some wannabe cholo Messcan gangsta from Cali, some obnoxious Jew, or some Left Coast airhead white traitor trash. And I will take just about anyone over some whiny, nasty, bipolar, lazy, trashy, untrustworthy Black. Hmmm, I don’t know, the Jew and Black might be a tossup.

  60. GMC says:

    I worked in West Virginia for a couple weeks { 2012} and found the people to be very friendly and never had a problem. But some of those little country roads , heading down to their towns were more like goat trails – lol. And my GPS screwed up more than once , but I lived the rural country lifestyle for decades so I felt at home. The tall McDonalds sign was my work. I worked solo with a boom truck inspecting those signs, the foundations, metal pipe, welds and had to open up the bottom of the signs in order take photos of the connections, and structural integrity. The company I worked for was in Dallas and I ended up traveling from there to over 30 states – coast to coast and from Vermont to Florida. It was a start of my real bucket list and I’m still on it. I saw a whole lot of the USA and I cry – for what has happened to it. So many good people , so much good land, so much history in the people and the ages gone by – and yet sooo much treason.

  61. Possumman says:

    Back in the mid ’70s a college buddy and I spent a week in WV -caving by day and camping in my VWvan at night–finally on Saturday we saw a poster for a chicken dinner at one of the local churches–you can imagine how we looked-dirty bedraggled -long hair and generally filthy and stinky—if you have spent any time crawling through caves you know. The people couldn’t have been nicer- the dinner was a couple bucks and they fed us and fed us. It was the highlight of the trip-beat walking neck deep in an underground river waiting for the water to reach the roof!

  62. Suffering comes naturally. Patience needs to be cultivated. The gap in between the two needs to be filled. This is an old story, quite interestingly and honestly retold here.

    PS
    Jonathan Franzen has some great scenes in his novel Freedom, that are set in (ex) coal-country.

  63. I ran around that region on motorcycles for thirty years, the same tale fits the entire West Virginia/Virginia/Kentucky rural scene clear up to upstate New York. Hell of an article, this, it captures the people really well.

    So, I moved to New England 10 years ago and found the same situation in the old closed down mill towns, lots of poverty, few jobs outside of 75 miles north of Boston inland, off the coast lines. Vermont, Maine, rural New Hampshire, all carry the same drug overdose troubles, really nice people and being quite White, no crime. The same tale of the rural population wherever you go is the norm because survival there is the human condition. And I don’t see what’s coming along to change any of it. As long as they can keep the blacks out with their typical criminal activity and hostilities (the black human condition always defaults to violence and theft), at least those rural folks can survive wherever they are.

    • Agree: Trinity
    • Replies: @3g4me
  64. ruralguy says:

    This reporting is a welcome addition that balances the opinion pieces in the unz site.

    Just by happenstance, I’ve covered 46 of the 50 states (46 of the 57 by Obama’s count). It’ always the backwoods areas that are most memorable: the Ozarks, rural South Carolina, rural Hawaii, East Texas along the Lousiana border, etc. I’ve never been to W.V, though. The writing nearly brought me there, though.

  65. Truth says:
    @TKK

    I hope they don’t ruin McDowell County.

    LOL!

    • Replies: @CelestiaQuesta
  66. Alfa158 says:
    @Trinity

    You can’t blame him, Troof can’t handle the truth and goes into chimp-out mode when it gets shoved in his face. The truth is that human behavior is a function of both environmental influence AND genetic heritage. Blacks on average are inherently less self-controlled, more aggressive, and less smart than Whites. Places like West Virginia are supposed to disprove that by showing that when Whites are raised in impoverished, drug infested environments they act just as badly as ghetto Blacks, but inconveniently, they don’t.

    In 2018 the murder rate in Chicago was 20 per 100,000. Even with a 10% Black population, and a ghetto level drug epidemic, McDowell County’s murder rate was the US average, 6.
    Overall crime rates, Chicago 3,182. McDowell County 1,502.
    How much bigger would the differences be without that 10%?

    https://www.insideprison.com/city_crime_statistics.asp?cityCaseR=Mcdowell&stateNorm=WV&zipC=24801

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Chicago

    How about those dumb in-bred “rednecks”? Black kids from the wealthiest families with incomes above \$200k, and all the fine schools, tutoring, and rich environments still don’t do any better on the SAT than the most poverty-stricken “redneck” kids from homes with incomes below \$20k:

    https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Farchive.org%2Fdownload%2FJBHELatestNewsFor12209%2FJBHE_%2520Latest%2520News%2520for%25201_22_09_files%2Fsatracialgapfigure.gif&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Farchive.org%2Fdetails%2FJBHELatestNewsFor12209&tbnid=zl_hZTy-Fg0EiM&vet=12ahUKEwj28sfNrIvzAhWXtZ4KHYDGAKIQMygIegQIARB0..i&docid=xeourzYE8ZQt1M&w=276&h=315&q=sat%20scores%20by%20family%20income%20and%20race%202008&hl=en-US&ved=2ahUKEwj28sfNrIvzAhWXtZ4KHYDGAKIQMygIegQIARB0

    • Agree: Bernie, Fr. John
    • Replies: @Trinity
  67. @Richard B

    Which is exactly why Jewish Supremacy Inc. cruelly targeted and scapegoated them, and not just them.

    I was shown a long time ago that atheists/agnostics with good hearts can make profound spiritual observations, as you just did, and I never forgot the lesson.

  68. @moi

    That they were simple people made them targets. Simplicity is a beautiful spiritual state.

  69. @Svevlad

    Hmm…isn’t Japan the same? Additionally, the country is racked by earthquakes and tsunamis.

    You can read my comments on this subject at theoccidentalobserver.net

    • Replies: @Svevlad
    , @Blueyedballer
  70. Trinity says:
    @Alfa158

    The church my sister attends sends money to help the poor in Appalachia. The last church I attended was long ago. It was in Florida and I got so sick of them sending money to Haiti and parading Haitians around that I left. About a couple of miles right down the road were some pretty rundown areas where lots of poor Whites lived in squalor. This was a few miles outside of Tampa. Long distance philanthropy to these nonwhite ingrates has to stop when you have Whites who need your help right in your backyard.

    I was once a regular visitor to a website that Greta Van Susteren had at the time. Very nice lady by the way. Susteren was totally impartial and committed back then to free speech the way Unz is today. I remember asking her about her and Franklin Graham worrying so much about helping out poor Haitians or southeast Asians when right in Franklin Graham’s backyard there are plenty of poor Whites.

    You will NEVER see Blacks or other nonwhites helping out poor Whites at all but you will see wealthy Whites give to nonwhites particularly Blacks exclusively while neglecting their own White brothers and sisters. Boggles my mind. I HELP MY OWN FIRST AND FOREMOST. I have helped poor Blacks when traveling through Port-au-Prince and I saw Blacks off my ship rip off poor Haitians and laugh about it. It was nothing for me to hand a Haitian a twenty and walk off, however, my own family ( the White race) is who I help first.

  71. 3g4me says:
    @Richard V Vajs

    @56 Richard V Vajs: With your entitled and superior attitude, it’s hardly any wonder the natives of W. Va. haven’t welcomed you into their hearts and homes. Neither the article nor any commenter has claimed there are no low-lives or criminals in W. Va. – they’re fallen humans like everyone else. But there is a far smaller cohort among White country folk than one will find anywhere else.

    So why did you leave Florida 20 years ago? Surely not to seek a prime job in West Virginia. Were you a developer, perchance? Someone with non-American ancestry? You sound butthurt and extraordinarily obnoxious. Instead of dumping on native West Virginians, go live amongst your own people and then dump on them to everyone, eh?

  72. Trinity says:

    Wonder why white traitor trash like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos don’t help out these poor White folks? Is Gates a (((crypto?))) Gates is always helping out poor nonwhites but I can’t recall him ever helping out poor Whites. This makes him suspect in the Jew or not Jew question. Or maybe the douchebag is just white traitor trash who wants to score points with racist nonwhites because it is more fashionable for Whitey to neglect his own and give to nonwhite ingrates exclusively.

  73. treebeard says:

    I read your entire article, and could imagine everthing well. Thanks for not holding back, yourself and those who spoke with you. I only have a couple things to add. Up here in RI, we have a severe problem with ATV riders in a liberal city capital. These are not the kinds of riders that would do well in Macdowell County, though. I think it would potentially turn into a war zone. But who knows. One thing for sure, pockets of whiteness are certainly marked for assimilation by the liberal elites. They have a quota system planned to spread welfare “affordable” housing out of the cities and into the rural areas. They come up with tons of phony reasons for it, like air and water, surroundings, all that crap. The simple fact is, our cities are fallen apart no matter how much money is thrown at schools and hospitals, because the quality of the people has plummetted. Both sides can blame Wall Street or the secret societies and effendi jews, or blame Big Government. of course they are just the two opposing hands of the one murderer of White European civilization and the Church that made it – Satan. Christopher, God does exist. The only reason why God doesn’t jump out at you is because if He did, your free will would be GONE. That won’t happen until the Second Coming. Most atheists should thank Him it hasnt happened because if it did, they would lose the only thing that CAN save them, freely choosing to love God and their fellow men, and asking Jesus to take away their sins is the only way our souls are released from this punishment and bondage, the curse of the Fall that transformed all our world, it was we who did it. Our ancestors commerced with Satan. We are the children of great sinners. It has to be this way until the Judgement, for our individual soul’s sakes. Just like Saint Jude asked the Lord (John 14:22).

    • Replies: @dindunuffins
    , @Gapeseed
  74. Annnnnd there is still less violence and degeneracy than your poor black trash areas. That says it all. And black ghetto trash is handed everything on a silver ( WHITE) platter. You figure it out.

    • Replies: @Truth
  75. 3g4me says:
    @Jim Christian

    @63 Jim Christian: Correction: They need not only keep out the blacks, but also the Afghans, Vietnamese, Haitians, Catholic and Lutheran Charities. And the DC pederasts who’ve started colonizing West Virginia towns closer to DC, taking over through sheer numbers, and chasing out the normal, ordinary, native people. And the Mexicans who flock wherever the liberal locusts move and take over all the construction work – like poor, occupied North Carolina and increasingly parts of South Carolina and Tennessee. With the proviso that I’m referring to a real nation with only White people, there damn well ought to be controls on interstate immigration, and no one who hasn’t lived somewhere for at least 10 years ought to have any say in how it’s run.

    • Replies: @jim bob beers
  76. 3g4me says:
    @SurfingUSA

    @47 SurfingUSA: Someone who considers a book being on the ‘best seller list’ an indication of its quality or worthiness is not someone whose recommendation I am likely to take seriously. I’d far rather live amongst the local people than read a book feted by outsiders, which most likely attempts to impart some deep truth that paints the locals and their history and culture in the most negative light possible. Hmmm, J.D. Vance and his pajeet wife, anyone?

    • Agree: GeneralRipper
    • Replies: @SurfingUSA
  77. Svevlad says:
    @Poupon Marx

    Yes, Japan is similar, but with a key difference: it’s much larger, and therefore has far more larger valleys where some development may take place (Kanto plain as the biggest example). Japan is also an island, allowing communication by boat (and people can’t just leave)

    West Virginia is Japan, but downscaled to the point where all the drawbacks are much more severe.

    The most usable area in WV is the bit around Martinsburg, for example.

    It’s a giant borderland, and the depopulation is unsurprising. I’d say it will even out at something like a Montana population density.

    • Replies: @Poupon Marx
  78. Excellent piece of good old fashion Americana journalism. I remember so well all the hate news articles berating Appalachians, calling them meth heads, rednecks and trailer park trash. I’m surprised Church Ministries along with US Government’s refugee resettlement agencies haven’t dropped half of Somalia or Iraq into those areas making them Middle Eastern Welfare Caliphates. Appalachians are blessed by being poor and hard to get to, that never happened, or those anti-white agencies believed they wiped out as many as possible with opioids without calling attention to their genocide.
    Thanks to this article, I’m going to explore real estate opportunities in those areas. The rebuilding starts with those who care about each other.

  79. @Trinity

    You seem to be describing self love and not charity. The former is about appearing good in the eyes of others and the latter about love of others and that begins at home and radiates outwards . That being said there are lots of sheep who look towards their leaders which works out well when the shepherds are wise. There is an ancient Egyptian text that says people are not born wise but learn it. Another says it is a divine gift. Whatever be the case wisdom has departed in the West.

    Not entirely off topic. Jesus taught that people have to be like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. Maybe it remains buried in everyone and sometimes even bursts out in the most surprising places before bad religion supresses it.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/afghanistan/video-2482455/Video-Taliban-seize-control-theme-park-Kabul-ride-dodgems.html

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10006039/Armed-Taliban-fighters-ride-PEDALOS-lake-Afghanistan-national-park.html

  80. @Bert

    The absolutely most selfish professionals are academics; their mindset is that of gulag guards.

    Bang on the point, but people rarely note it.

    There seem to be obvious reasons why financial security inversely correlates with generosity.

    Long back I saw a poster that read, “The moment financial security is assured, spiritual bankruptcy is also assured”. I dont know how far that is true.

  81. Truth says:
    @anonymous

    And this is the HUMAN portrait of a calculated DISASTER…well planned, and methodically executed to destroy/demoralize exterminate WHITE Deplorables

    Yeah.

    But according to the author they are still durrned…. Happy… about everything.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  82. Truth says:
    @Anonymous

    With the repeated mentions of “ghettos” the author is trying to say something without coming out and saying it: there’s a distinct lack of Negrosity in this corner of West Virginia. And that’s part of its charm.

    I believe a U-Haul and Google Maps will get you there…

    • Replies: @anonymous
  83. Truth says:
    @WJ

    Did you read the article?

    I’m black, it’s in my genes. If I were white on the other hand, I would happilly bend over forward for Mr. Sackler, Mr. Reagan, Mr. Clinton and all of the other assorted assailants, hand him a bottle of vasaline; and maintain my optimism.

    • Replies: @Randy Dazzler
  84. @R.C.

    I honestly feel that legalizing drugs is the right way forward. Like R.C. says they will get dirt cheap and safer.
    Another attraction for most addicts, especially the young is the illegality of the drugs. Once this is done away, they will find drugs unattractive. The core will move on to more exotic and dangerous ones, probably ones that are more lethal. These too should be made legal and soon all the suicidal ones will say Sayanora.

    • Replies: @Spender_CGB
  85. @Whereismyhandle

    Maybe consider that many readers are coming at the story with a similar set of preconceived ideas about such places as the writer. How those ideas are in agreement or conflict with what he actually experiences IS the story. You don’t like it; fair enough. It doesn’t make it a failure.

    I’d far rather have people clearly insert themselves into their work rather than pretend that they’re being objective while telling you what and how to think. I’m now immediately suspicious about articles full of statistics and research, but I never once felt deceived by Jimmy Breslin, Hunter S. Thompson or Linh Dinh — whether I agreed with or even believed everything they said.

  86. 3g4me says:
    @Rebel Roy

    @12 Rebel Roy: As noted at the end of the article here, Mr. Martin’s excellent writing was first published by The Occidental Observer (where I read it the other day). While I, too, appreciate Unz giving such writing a broader audience, it would behoove Unz readers to broaden their horizons and partake of some of the excellent philosophical and political writers to be found in the marginalized DR parts of the web – and to support them publicly and financially.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
  87. Bro43rd says:
    @R.C.

    Another must read “Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari.

  88. One side of my family hails from the Bluefield/Wytheville/Tazewell area. They left it long before I was born, seeking opportunities to make a living. But the people in this story are just like the relatives I’ve met from there- cheerful, full of goodwill, not victims. I think the hopeful people are correct. Those poor women in the rehab have reason to feel down but who can be optimistic while living in a rehab, going to 12 step meetings all the time? Before opioids it was moonshine but they are still there.

    With or without Jesus, they live in God’s country and that country is a part of them. That’s why they stand out from residents of your average urban nightmare. I hope those SW Virginia counties will secede from the rest of Virginia (RIP) and live the good life for all their days.

    I like John Denver too but I think some Alison Krauss is a better fit.

  89. Fred Reed– Crumpler (McDowell County), WV

  90. Fred777 says:
    @WorkingClass

    They are if you are a DNC Bolshevik

  91. AceDeuce says:
    @One-off

    Yep. Spot on.

    Even mocha colored butt pirate cuck Kevin Williamson admitted it in an NR article a few years ago, a typical hatchet job on Eastern Kentucky Whites (basically the same region as southern WV). He indirectly mentioned that despite the poverty and other obstacles the Whites there faced, serious crime-and crime in general, was far lower than any nigro area, not to mention that, despite far less in funding, the schools far outperformed “vibrant” places like DC, awash in funding.

    He also mentioned an overlooked truth. In Ky and WV, today’s vulnerable youth have been exposed and damaged by nigro type dysfunction–rap, drugs, and other maladies unheard of in White America 60 years ago.

    • Thanks: GeneralRipper
    • Replies: @CelestiaQuesta
    , @Truth
  92. You probably support strip-mine mountain-top-removing the entire state. Because that’s what conservatives do. Support strip-mine-mountain-top-removal. That’s it. That’s all.

    • Troll: GeneralRipper, Fr. John
  93. @Rev. Spooner

    I honestly feel that legalizing drugs is the right way forward. Like R.C. says they will get dirt cheap and safer.

    In the late 80’s, early 90’s Liverpool city council in the Uk tried it and it worked.
    A heroin addict with an £100 a day habit had to steal £1,000 to make a £100, because heroin addict were so desperate the fences gave them the bare minimum on the goods they had stolen. So crime was rampant.. So Lverpool council gave the addicts heroin on prescription.

    However under the guise of morality the program was stopped. The American 60 minutes team did a spot on
    the program which explained it very well. It is only 13 mins long but was very sympathetic to it.

    Anyway they can explain it better than me.

  94. Anon[242] • Disclaimer says:
    @Antiwar7

    We all know why, I mean the actual reason, it can’t be legalized not either in the USA nor elsewhere… or don’t we?

    • Replies: @Nancy
  95. As one who left Merica after Obama was elected, much of this article reminds me of areas of Mexico. Seems the less people have, the more they are willing to share. I know people who have broken down on rural Mexican roads and not only were helped by locals, but usually refused any financial compensation

    Currently I am on a road trip to visit my daughter in Cincinnati, then to S. Carolina for friends, then a return home. I told my son in law, that each visit back increases my racism, and that on the worst day in Mexico, we have no Blacks!!! I’ll be heading south on 77 in a few weeks, and just may spend a few days in southern WV.

    Road tripping through the States, and staying in medium priced motels, reminds one just how cold, uncaring, and unfeeling E. Indians are, then, when I reach the day’s destination, how despicable MOST, not all, Blacks are!!!

    At 72, I’ll survive it, but certainly feel great sorrow for young Americans.

    • Agree: Bernie
  96. Squeal like a little piggy.

    • Replies: @Trinity
    , @Trinity
  97. @Truth

    Anger is not needed right now, even if justified.

    It is an essential ingredient in the “Bad Thing” recipe being brewed.

    The larger picture is the divide and conquer campaign unfolding.

    Don’t fall for it. Starve the Beast.

    It is quite rude to say “If I were White…” You have no idea, and I speak only for myself.

    Turn it around, easy to say, isn’t it?

    So, I won’t pretend to know what I would feel like if I were Black, or you.

    Maintaining optimism, whenever possible, is good for you no matter what your race, gender, or who you are.

    (Old-fart-speak. Ignore as you please.)

    • Replies: @Truth
  98. Max Payne says:

    Nah this place is hopeless man. Floods. Bad internet. No technical institutes to teach modern skills.

    Usually there is hope in some places due to a pattern of eager young men entering software development. Developing an API, small business software, custom apps, games, freelancing, scamcoins, whatever. It brings foreign revenue into small towns. Especially if you make a completed product, selling to an international market (which thanks to online distributors is as easy as copy-paste, no shipping and handling!).

    But come on… trail passes… how do you even enforce that? It’s a big park….

    It might be better to ask for a special permit from the government to use the coal extracted nearby to power a giant BitCoin mining facility.

    Hope is the first step to disappointment.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  99. Trinity says:
    @Let's Rollover!!

    Wrong state. That is around my neck of the woods in JawJuh. Grab them ankles and bite those shoe laces with your teefers, pilgrim.

    Now grab you some Popcorn Sutton shine and hang on.

    Off topic but Georgia must be one of the most mentioned states in songs. Lots of tunes with JawJuh in them.

    Cue: Midnight Train To Georgia by Gladys Knight for the two negroes here.

  100. @treebeard

    yup blacks and ATV’s…like monkeys with machine guns…

  101. One-off says:
    @Trinity

    This times a hundred. Look at any response to a disaster. The non-White faces can be counted on one hand. It’s not just shiftless black sociopaths who could care less about others including their own Tribes. Whites need to help Whites and opt out of any assistance to non-Whites. That will put into swift focus how little non-Whites care for humanity, even members of their own Tribes.

  102. Trinity says:
    @Let's Rollover!!

    The odds of you getting your cheeks busted and raw dogged by a hillbilly in the sticks is about as likely as you hitting Powerball Lottery and Mega Millions in the same week one night after the other. Now the odds of you getting raw dogged up the Hershey highway by some booty bandit Black thug in the joint is skraight up even odds if you look even halfway decent. Typical (((Hollywood))) inverse of reality. You could probably count all the homersexual hillbillies in America on one hand. Gay Black thugs? Tons of them.

    Cue: Da Butt by Experience Unlimited

    • Replies: @GeneralRipper
    , @Truth
  103. This article aptly shows, if white people are left alone, unencumbered by the burden of putting up with other races, will solve their own problems and eventually prosper. One thing that surprises me is that he speaks of the loss of a Walmart as if it’s a tragedy, to me that’s a blessing, the townspeople can start up their own small businesses again. The author says a number of times in the article that in the small towns, there is nothing to do and he’s confounded by the lack of cellphone reception and bad roads. Living in the city creates zombies that are completely lost without technology. How happy I am that I grew up outside of the big city and learned how to use maps, cut wood, tend garden and fix things. If I lived in a small town in West Virginia, I would have endless things to do, with very few of them needing technology. We need to get out of the toxic cities, repopulate the small towns and rebuild our rural country. Cities are for non-whites and the tribe.

    • Agree: Jefferson Temple
    • Replies: @Truth
  104. @follyofwar

    ” I like Walmart and shop there often, though, like everywhere else, it’s prices keep rising.”

    Nothing I hate more than shopping at Walmart. I wish the company would go out of business. Thank goodness, where I live, we have alternatives.

  105. @Truth

    Go, light another joint and calm down. If you’re a good boy, your wife might give you some tonight, but you must keep quiet.

  106. GeneralRipper [AKA "The Griffins"] says:
    @Trinity

    LOL

    I love most of your stuff, brother, but this one made me spit Peroni all over my screen.

    Hilarious and absolutely true at the same time.

    That one goes in Trinity’s Greatest Hits.

    • LOL: Trinity
  107. anonymous[399] • Disclaimer says:
    @Truth

    yes thats what they say about jews in the Concentation Camps..they were fed, medicated, and even had sports and a classical symphony ensemble …not bad for a so called Holocaust..

  108. chris says:
    @Rebel Roy

    Definitely agree with yours and all previous, similar comments.

    I also agree with the author’s introduction that this area with its refrain of hope might be explored more at length in subsequent articles. How, why, and by whom, the opioid crisis was brought to this place might be one avenue worth another article.

  109. Anon[341] • Disclaimer says:
    @Richard V Vajs

    Thanks for adding a view from another angle, and one that offsets the rest in this page.

  110. @Truth

    What’s the difference between a white sign language interpreter and a black one?

    • Replies: @Truth
  111. frontier says:
    @Truth

    The American Dream. Honkees… are are dumb as rocks, and yes 84% of them live on the dole, yes they aspire to a \$10 an hour job at the jail

    LOL, you think you’re smarter only because you’re are much dumber than them. Their education was ruined by government controlled public schools, idiotic mandates and corrupt academia. Government controlled healthcare has turned their doctors into drug dealers and robotic tools. They get \$10 per hour because the government has wasted all of their money on wars and corruption, after pushing overseas any industry that would employ them. The government-mandated “green revolution” impoverished them by forcibly closing the mines that used to provide for them – nothing was built to replace that, they were practically robbed by the government at gun point. Walmart plays its destructive role too, they open a store, ruin local business, close it… rinse, repeat.

    The people in these areas are actually doing pretty well given all the evil they are subjected to. The best part of it is that they aren’t stupid tools like you.

    • Agree: GeneralRipper
    • Thanks: Trinity, CelestiaQuesta
    • Replies: @GeneralRipper
    , @Truth
  112. @Richard V Vajs

    You found the key in the ignition. Where had you left the key when you left the car and what evidence did you have that that somebody had tried to start it?

  113. GeneralRipper [AKA "The Griffins"] says:
    @frontier

    Put the gay ass nigger Troof ( he’ll proudly tell you about his male modeling days..lol ) on ignore and you’ll be be very happy you did.

    Think about it. Do you waste your time and energy talking with niggers IRL?

    Why do so her?

    • Replies: @Truth
  114. @Truth

    Why don’t whites loot and burn their stores like blacks?
    Why would Target close 175 stores in black neighborhoods?
    I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisettevoytko/2020/05/31/target-closes-175-stores-nationwide-in-wake-of-george-floyd-protests-looting/

  115. @Trinity

    Many Evangelicals, like liberals, subconsciously see blacks as helpless children in need of help and guidance. They will never admit to this. They subconsciously see poor whites as being the cause of their own misfortune. Blacks are like innocent, unspoiled pets, poor whites are like that drunken uncle down in skid road that you don’t want to think or talk about.

  116. @AceDeuce

    There’s nothing more destructive to white youth these last 30 years than being indoctrinated with black gangsta rap ghetto culture 24/7/365 by (((GlobalHomo network media Affiliates))), and allowing Mexican drug cartels to push and supply the opioid epidemic.
    And to add insult to injury they’re now designated white Supremacists and domestic terrorists.
    Something is going to pop soon, and it ain’t going to be balloons.
    The pushback is just a hop, skip, jump away.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  117. 2,966 Welch WVA

    2,679,080 Chicago

    The very idea that comparing these two cities or Welch WVA to any major city in the US just makes no sense and is hardly reflective of an honest assessment of either population. That alone undermines your agenda here.

    Good grief.

    • Replies: @GeneralRipper
  118. Gapeseed says:
    @treebeard

    There is a great malign intelligence moving us pawns to and fro, and you are right in pinning your hopes on God. He is our only hope.

  119. @3g4me

    Got any more strawmen?

    This is a hit-and-run piece with none of the depth of Walls’ book.

  120. Nancy says:
    @Anon

    The bankesters need their laundry business….. just listened to Dillingpod’s interview with Catherine Austin Fitts…. lays it out! I even remember Loretta Napolitano’s research, revealing the same. Can’t say we don’t know : ) (BTW she confirmed that WWI and WWII were profitable projectes of the New York / UK banksters, and we know who they are.

  121. GeneralRipper [AKA "The Griffins"] says:
    @EliteCommInc.

    Well if ya tell us YOUR zip code, EliteCommie, it might lend a tiny bit of credence to your observation.

    How about it?

  122. @3g4me

    You people are vastly irresponsible and incompetent to manage a single county much less a nation. Mexicans do all the rea work and the best thing that could happen in APPALACHIA is the massive influx of “foreigners”. Without coal there is virtually no purpose to most of the region and everyone with any hope or future is better off in the lower lands of Kentucky and Ohio.

    ALL of you live in a delusional fantasy

    • Troll: GeneralRipper
  123. Truth says:
    @Cowboy

    I think that is an excellent idea.

  124. Truth says:
    @dindunuffins

    And black ghetto trash is handed everything on a silver ( WHITE) platter.

    https://www.wboy.com/only-on-wboy-com/wboy-com-lists-and-rankings/west-virginia-is-the-4-state-where-food-stamps-are-used-the-most/

    The states with the highest percentage of SNAP recipients are New Mexico (21%), Louisiana (17%), West Virginia (17%), Alabama (15%), and Mississippi (15%). New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Rhode Island all have 14%. In Wyoming and Utah, only 5% of residents are SNAP recipients, the lowest in the U.S.

    Here are the 10 states with the most welfare recipients:

    New Mexico (21,368 per 100k)
    West Virginia (17,388 per 100k)
    Louisiana (17,388 per 100k)
    Mississippi (14,849 per 100k)
    Alabama (14,568 per 100k)
    Oklahoma (14,525 per 100k)
    Illinois (14,153 per 100k)
    Rhode Island (13,904 per 100k)
    Pennsylvania (13,623 per 100k)
    Oregon (13,617 per 100k)

    https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/welfare-recipients-by-state

    New Mexico and WV are two of the whitest states in America.

    • Replies: @SurfingUSA
    , @Bernie
  125. Truth says:
    @AceDeuce

    He also mentioned an overlooked truth. In Ky and WV, today’s vulnerable youth have been exposed and damaged by nigro type dysfunction–rap, drugs, and other maladies unheard of in White America 60 years ago.

    Really? then how come KY and WV were still poor 60 years ago?

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  126. AceDeuce says:
    @CelestiaQuesta

    The pushback is just a hop, skip, jump away.

    I hope. Faster, please.

    BTW, I remember you from Takimag’s comments section. Glad to see you’re still fighting the good fight.

    • Thanks: CelestiaQuesta
  127. lydia says:
    @Thomasina

    I agree, I would love to read more about how ordinary Americans are coping and helped by their faith in Jesus Christ and the influence of Jesus on helping your neighbor.

  128. @Truth

    Are you out of your mind? New Mexico is 48% Hispanic.

    • Replies: @Bernie
    , @Truth
  129. Bubba says:
    @Thomasina

    The California governor just signed 2 bills to get rid of single-family home zoning.

    It was done so eventually George Soros’ heirs and the BlackRock types will own all housing.

  130. anaccount says:
    @animalogic

    You must not have read he article because the author does meet with former addicts at what one could describe as a halfway house.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  131. Truth says:
    @Randy Dazzler

    It is quite rude to say “If I were White…” You have no idea, and I speak only for myself.

    This is extrapolated from the article. I thought that that was clear.

    Maintaining optimism, whenever possible, is good for you no matter what your race, gender, or who you are.

    Sure it is. I read a great novel about just that in high school; the author called it “taking Soma.”

    They call it oxycodene now, but I guess that guy was ahead of his time.

    • Replies: @Randy Dazzler
  132. Truth says:
    @Trinity

    You could probably count all the homersexual hillbillies in America on one hand. Gay Black thugs? Tons of them.

    Then those must be the 5
    richest guys in Appalachia.

    http://gaycampingusa.com/westvirginia.html

    https://gaybarsin.com/west-virginia/huntington/

    Oh wait…

    Here are the 5 now!

    https://www.wvpublic.org/podcast/inside-appalachia/2015-09-04/whats-it-like-to-be-gay-in-appalachia

    [MORE]

    • Replies: @CelestiaQuesta
  133. Truth says:
    @Joe Paluka

    This article aptly shows, if white people are left alone, unencumbered by the burden of putting up with other races, will solve their own problems and eventually prosper.

    Did we read the same article?

  134. ricpic says:

    I have a question which I suppose is hopelessly naive, but I’m going to ask it anyway: what is so irresistible about drugs?

  135. @Cowboy

    “…if we got the nice negro church ladies and the nice honkee church ladies together for a tea we could fix all this…”

    After the tea, the black church ladies might lend the white church ladies their extra hats (“because of the angels”) and the gals would get down to the business of praising God together and seeking His mercy and His wisdom about how they can represent Jesus (as Teresa of Avila described) by serving as His hands and His feet as they assist troubled and broken people in their towns and cities. The Spiritual Body of Christ truly is ONE body, made up of diverse people. It’s in the Bible.

    A lovely thought, Cowboy. They’re not making the front pages of the newspapers, but there are groups of men and women quietly getting things done in this harmonious way.

    And thanks to Ron Unz for publishing Christopher Martin’s moving and thought-provoking article.

  136. Here is a little side excursion in McDowell County, Jenkinjones in particular. Note all of the white privlege.

    • Replies: @Truth
  137. @CelestiaQuesta

    Well for one thing the Jew media hasn’t been telling poor whites 24/7 for the past 50years that they are victims, inflaming them into a violent rage. Incidentally, that violent rage, which is always just under the skin with blacks, must usually be goaded out of whites.

  138. Bernie says:
    @Truth

    Whites are barely a third of the population of New Mexico.

    Blacks are the undisputed champs when it comes to all government handouts:

    https://www.amren.com/commentary/2019/10/race-welfare-and-media-lies/

    • Replies: @R.C.
  139. @Truth

    Hey Troof, I mean Don Lemon, you should take your LGBTiQPWXYZ fantasies over to the Advocate or Black Trannys For Hire.com.

    • Replies: @Truth
  140. Bernie says:

    “The Whites I’ve met here aren’t much like Whites I’ve met elsewhere, but the texture of Black behavior is always the same. ”

    This was one of my first discoveries about race when I joined the military. Whites were usually different depending on where they came from. Blacks were 100% the same whether they came from Texas, New York, Seattle, Chicago or some country town in Alabama. Exact same music, vernacular, politics, interests, fashions, beliefs and personalities.

    For such a supposedly “vibrant” people they are very predictable.

    • Agree: Tony massey
  141. Bernie says:
    @SurfingUSA

    Or maybe he is just not very bright.

  142. @Jack McArthur

    turns out Denver’s inspiration for this was Clopper Rd in Montgomery County MD back when the up county was horse farms and cow pastures. From Poolesville MD cross the Potomac at whites ferry west on Rt 7 to Winchester Va and north on 522 to Berkeley Springs Wv then take Rt 9 west to Detour Rd over Sidiling Hill and your soon in Critten Hollow. There’s a hammer dulcimer player, Jo, in a string band of that name, (Critten Hollow) her husband plays fiddle, check ’em out

  143. Trinity says:

    Rednecks really do not like McDonald’s. “MacDonald’s” is the way “crackas” pronounce it. McDonald’s is loved by Black folk and Mexicans though. Most “crackas” prefer Wendy’s or Burger King over Mickey D’s any day of the week. Only thing The Clown has going for him is the coffee, tea, pancakes, and fries. The Clown was catering to Black folk in their commercials even 10-20 years ago, long before Blacks started starring in every damn commercial on the tube from toothpaste to cereal to deodorant to that commercial where two Black homersexuals are locking lips.

    Walmart? Every city, town, or burg in America should try to stop Walmart from building stores in their area and every person in America, at least White folk, should boycott Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks, Faceberg, Twatter, Jewgle, just for starters.

    Taco Bell? Just pure garbage for food. Stay away.

    • Agree: Spender_CGB
  144. AceDeuce says:
    @Truth

    It’s a White thing, you wo….

    No, I won’t go for the cheap joke.

    They were poor but not poor and depraved. Plenty of poor but decent people were able to climb out of poverty. People who stay poor but are decent and moral retain their self-respect and at least minimize the effects of poverty.

    When people are poor and scumbags, there’s no hope.

  145. Truth says:
    @CelestiaQuesta

    …I don’t give a shit. I can hear.

  146. Truth says:
    @frontier

    Their education was ruined by government controlled public schools, idiotic mandates and corrupt academia.

    Same as in Newark.

    Government controlled healthcare has turned their doctors into drug dealers and robotic tools.

    Same as in Liberty City.

    They get \$10 per hour because the government has wasted all of their money on wars and corruption, after pushing overseas any industry that would employ them.

    Same as in South Chicago.

    The people in these areas are actually doing pretty well given all the evil they are subjected to

    Same as in The Bronx.

  147. R.C. says:
    @Bernie

    Excellent link!
    Folks: I LOVE all the increase freedom/decrease government control/end the drug war comments!!!
    R.C.

  148. Truth says:
    @GeneralRipper

    Sham Nig. Please just go back to your original name, you are not fooling anyone. How do I know that you are the original General Ripper?

    Easy, as the Honkees say, you’re a lifetime cunt, and chaning your screen name does nothing to disguise this. You’ve always been a cunt, you will always be a cunt. I get the feeling I am not the first person to tell you this, and your pappy probably told you that you were a cunt, from birth, until he died of cirrhosis when you were 17. If you even knew him at all.

    You are not smart enough to fool anyone, but, maybe, another cunt. You are not smart enough to even disguise your writing for 3 posts. So bro, I do not want to interrupt your Born Loser status, just letting you know that a cunt is a cunt is a cunt.

    Please carry on, Old Sport.

  149. Truth says:
    @CelestiaQuesta

    Why don’t whites loot and burn their stores like blacks?

    They do.

    They just only do it for important social issues…

    Why did Sears and K-Mart close at lot more of it’s stores in white neighborhoods?

    I’ll give you a hint, Old Sport; because businessmen make business decisions.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/shopping/2021/02/03/sears-kmart-closing-stores-list-2021/4371235001/

  150. Truth says:
    @SurfingUSA

    Are you out of your mind? New Mexico is 48% Hispanic.

    Whites are barely a third of the population of New Mexico.

    Gentlemen, you are correct.
    And after more than a decade here reading the columns of Sailer, Unz, Reed, and Dinh invloving Hispanics, I should no much better than to conflate them with whites.

    That is highly insulting, and the four gentlemen I mentioned above would agree, to the Hispanics.

    Blacks are the undisputed champs when it comes to all government handouts:

    Again, Old Sport, I beg to differ, as you truly no little of anything.

    https://thinkbynumbers.org/government-spending/corporate-vs-social-welfare/

    https://jonkofas.blogspot.com/2014/04/corporate-welfare-vs-social-welfare.html

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/americans-welfare-perceptions-survey_n_5a7880cde4b0d3df1d13f60b

    • Replies: @SurfingUSA
  151. Truth says:
    @Sir Launcelot Canning

    And all of the white achievement!

  152. Angharad says:
    @follyofwar

    It’s not about leaving. There is nowhere to go – unless you are uber rich and can buy some island somewhere.

    It’s going to be all about what you will do when the Hordes of the Other show up.

  153. @Truth

    Your graceful acknowledgement that New Mexico is not one of the whitest states is appreciated, I remain curious how you managed to post such an observation in the first place? If you’ve visited NM or follow politics / demographics / geography generally, and apparently you do, it’s difficult to be in the dark about NM ethically.

    • Replies: @Truth
  154. @anaccount

    Key word “former”. Makes a difference to me, but not you.

  155. Truth says:
    @SurfingUSA

    Lmao

    I live in downtown Albuquerque, NM. I have for over 15 years. I simply define “whitest” the same way WNs do when its convenient, I.E, “least blackest.”

    For instance, one of the never-ending tropes here is how the “mudsharks” are DESTROYING THEIR 50 CENTURIES OF WHITE HERITAGE with their nigger-lubbin behavior!!!

    Then you read down a little further and they go into how happy they have been, married to a chink for 17 years, and have sired two pieface sons..

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  156. Skeptikal says:

    Very nice piece.

    The maps and photos are much appreciated.

  157. Truth says:
    @CelestiaQuesta

    Hey Troof, I mean Don Lemon, you should take your LGBTiQPWXYZ fantasies over to the Advocate or Black Trannys For Hire.com.

    Ok, now there is a response that is 100% commiserate with the responder’s IQ.

    Tally-Ho!

  158. Anonymous[224] • Disclaimer says:
    @Truth

    Hello, Truth,
    One thing I have learned from reading sites like this one is that no one hates white women the way so-called white nationalists do. It’s kind of funny, actually.
    John Derbyshire’s Chinese wife wants their son to marry a Chinese girl, not a white girl. She doesn’t want white grandchildren.
    Whereas, from what I understand, blacks prefer lighter-skinned offspring, so I guess the black half of a salt-and-pepper couple would be happy to have his children marry whites and produce even whiter grandchildren.
    So I guess, if white nationalists want to preserve the white race, they should avoid marrying yellows and marry blacks!
    Personally, I don’t care who other people marry, as long as they are happy.
    Out of curiosity, what race is your spouse?

  159. Truth says:

    I am not married, but my GF is Asian.

    And yes the only rival for men who hate women who look like them, as much as WNs would be ghetto class BMs.

  160. @Truth

    This is extrapolated from the article. I thought that that was clear.

    I didn’t catch that as I didn’t read the article that scrupulously. Nor do racial issues pop out for me. Economic strata is much more meaningful.

    Listen to me carefully, settle down. Obviously my previous gentle suggestion wasn’t sufficient.

    What is it you are trying to prove or accomplish here?

    1) Become more popular

    2) “Cure” a bunch of White Supremacists

    3) Prove you are smarter than everybody

    I mean, WTF is your deal? Are you AstroTurf? That is a high crime.

    [MORE]

    Here is the context: https://www.unz.com/estriker/portland-leftists-split-after-anarchists-beat-down-liberal-journalist-and-call-her-a-slut/#comment-4867232

    What I am talking about there is the fact that government, or organizations, posing as citizens in the Public Square is a high crime. One of the highest crimes in Democracy.

    Anybody participating in this will be punished severely in the future. There is a judicial reckoning coming the likes of which have never been seen before. Nuremburg 2.0 is an understatement. I opened my narrative with their are higher rules, and I am following them. I reiterate that here. I am acting independently on my own.

    I am here delivering a message from them in anticipation of fulfilling certain requirements. I make no claim of coming from the future.

    Most, if not all “White Supremacists” are asswipes like the SPLC trolling (in the fishing sense) for scapegoats, or some equally asswipe law enforcement “sting”/entrapment for glory, or even foreign intelligence agents on a malevolent mission.

    The larger purpose is to destabilize the US and do a USSR to Russia style seizure of resources/looting for Team Oligarch, as if they don’t “own” (have title on, and derive the benefits from) enough of everything already. A central tool in this destabilization is racial agitation. It works even better than ethnic agitation as the cultural chasms tend to be wider.

    So, you are one blade of the scissors, and the ‘White Supremacist’ morons you argue with are the other, and you are cutting up the cohesion of Society. You are tools used by manipulators setting the environment you react to in order to “guide” you. See, you would repulse at the word “control”. But it is the same thing, measure..actuate..measure..actuate..

    Even if you aren’t being paid, you are still furthering the same agenda that is being paid for. A sinister agenda.

    I will tell you something racialist that I have observed in my life. Black people are a lot more likely to ascribe race as a factor to things than any other ethnic group, with Jewish people as a close second if you consider that as a racial distinction. For the Blacks, it’s usually why something didn’t go their way, for the Jewish, it’s usually ethnic bragging.

    That’s Truth.

    What’s also true is that I have suffered Institutional Racism, and if you are Black, you have likely benefited from it. Much of my career was during the glorious age of “Equal Opportunity” which translated locally into “If you aren’t Black or a woman, don’t bother.” when it came to applying for positions for career advancement.

    Social (or Cultural) racism is a different thing than Institutional racism. You aren’t going to quell it by stoking it. Or don’t you want it quelled?

    What is the basis for observed racial distinctions? Inherently genetic or cultural, or a racial center with a individual variance, or a product of an individual’s life journey?

    It simply doesn’t matter. Schools are so maladapted for today’s needs, that discussing racial variance is a secondary issue in regards to necessary reforms. (Side note: Upper schools, aka Academia, is in a state of corrupt decay that stinks up to Heaven. The off loading of R&D from Commerce onto Academia has huge societal consequences, and none are for the better. It is just more profiteering, certain groups grabbing a larger share of government spending.)

    Society has to be tolerant of a broad range of individual behaviors. Cultural bounds should lay within legal bounds. But sometimes Karens get too enthusiastic. It’s a balance. Regardless, the variation of culturally acceptable behaviors, simply need to be above a certain threshold of broad social acceptability in order to have a healthy society. The threshold is basically attainable by anybody capable of simple verbalization, and surprisingly difficult to reach for some who you would think would know better.

    In terms of criminal behavior, stressed and desperate people are more likely to commit crimes. That transcends race, species even if you broaden your definition of crime. It transcends gender [Sorry, Darling Pissedoffalese, I like that word better than ‘sex’ for this] as well. Add on top of this, for minority members, getting the notion that the majority is oppressing them so getting even is therefore justified, criminality is excused. And when it is excused there, it is sort of locally normalized, isn’t it?

    That’s so gansta’.

    Sure it is. I read a great novel about just that in high school; the author called it “taking Soma.”

    They call it oxycodene now, but I guess that guy was ahead of his time.

    How, or why, would you conflate chemically induced euphoria with optimism?

    Yes, I read that book too. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. Guess what? He also wrote non-fiction. Ever read that?

    You are clearly a pessimistic sod who does not understand that optimism leads to a “can do” attitude and it gets stuff done. Pessimism is content with pointing out every reason something won’t work, arguing against even trying, and snarkily sniping at anyone who disagrees with their specific perception.

    It’s not a happy place to dwell. You should show some character and crawl out of it. That goes for all the morons you have been, I don’t know what to call it, with.

    Stop. All of you. This is a time for solutions. The problems have been hashed over and over and not everybody agrees, but guess what, the picture changes as progress is made so that is no fucking reason to leave yourselves in this pathetic rhetorical quagmire.

    Realistic solutions. Not everybody thinks like you. I can’t stand Broadway Shows, some people live for them.

    • Replies: @Truth
  161. I loved reading this and I learnt a lot too. Very fine journalism Christopher Martin, thank you.
    May I say that I have spent a summer and autumn in vicinities to the east of West Virginia and I believe that this particular area of our earth is blessed with the most beautiful light in the world.
    Congratulations to Ron Unz for publishing this new contributor.

  162. Truth says:
    @Randy Dazzler

    And good morning to you, Sir. Since I am on the company’s dime this morning, let’s take this step by step.

    What is it you are trying to prove or accomplish here?

    1) Become more popular

    2) “Cure” a bunch of White Supremacists

    3) Prove you are smarter than everybody

    Well, it certainly wouldn’t be number one, and number two would be a fool’s errand. Number three well, I think that would be fairly apparent, if not smarter than “everybody” here, than certainly than most.

    No Old Sport, I have two purposes for posting on this site; #1; to make jokes. Not a day goes by where I don’t get a belly laugh at something either I, or someone else has written here. It is truly the funniest site on the web. #2 To promote logical thought. That is in short supply here, and in most of America.

    [MORE]

    What I am talking about there is the fact that government, or organizations, posing as citizens in the Public Square is a high crime. One of the highest crimes in Democracy.

    Yes, and I will take it one further, EVERYTHING you see on television is fraud. I say this having worked in television for years.

    All of these simple-minded knuckle-draggers here bought into the whole “tha nikkers are destroying Portland and Seattle” fraud without (and this harkens back to logical thought) ever asking themselves, “well, why aren’t they destroying cities like Jackson, Ms, and Memphis, and Birmingham, where there are actual, real, legitimate nikkers?” Simple, they couldn’t get the Intelligence Agents into such insular black neighborhoods.

    Anybody participating in this will be punished severely in the future. There is a judicial reckoning coming the likes of which have never been seen before. Nuremburg 2.0 is an understatement. I opened my narrative with their are higher rules, and I am following them. I reiterate that here. I am acting independently on my own.

    LOL, no, no Old Sport, they will not because your judges are puppets as well.

    Most, if not all “White Supremacists” are asswipes like the SPLC trolling (in the fishing sense) for scapegoats, or some equally asswipe law enforcement “sting”/entrapment for glory, or even foreign intelligence agents on a malevolent mission.

    Well, I would say that you are on the right track here, even if you are goin to sleep through your stop. In reality, the whole Intelligence Agent mission is to bring normal, entitled, angry people into the fold. Without doing that there is no point in writing the theatre.

    E.G. the “Capital Riots”, the first 5 people through the door were yes, intelligence agents, (as was the dumb broad who pretended to get shot by that NIGGGGGUUUURRR!) The next 10 were paid actors, the rest were knuckle-draggers who have been listening to Rush and Tucker for the last 20 years and have lost any ability to think. Those dummies, if you are paying attention to the news, are now legit convicts.

    The larger purpose is to destabilize the US and do a USSR to Russia style seizure of resources/looting for Team Oligarch, as if they don’t “own” (have title on, and derive the benefits from) enough of everything already.

    Again, right track, slept through station.

    There is no “US” and “USSR” (that’s an extreme simplification, but it works). Yes, they will snatch your assets, but the “why” is what people don’t understand. And, quite honestly that would take 13 paragraphs for me to make it make sense. Don’t have time. Just understand one, thing, they don’t “need” your assets because they print the money, and charge interest on it.

    I will tell you something racialist that I have observed in my life. Black people are a lot more likely to ascribe race as a factor to things than any other ethnic group, with Jewish people as a close second if you consider that as a racial distinction.

    My friend, think about it like this; if on Golden Retreiver falls upon a Pride of Lions, which one is more likely to be concerned about it’s “race?”

    What’s also true is that I have suffered Institutional Racism, and if you are Black, you have likely benefited from it. Much of my career was during the glorious age of “Equal Opportunity” which translated locally into “If you aren’t Black or a woman, don’t bother.” when it came to applying for positions for career advancement.

    LMAO!

    You see my friend, as I said above, I get one belly laugh every day! Everyone that you see who truly has money in this country is white. ANYONE black, with riches, is an EMPLOYEE OF WHITES. Additionally, more than half the people in prision in this country, are black. This is a white man’s country, the fact that you have been unable to take advantage of that, as tragic as it may be in your personal circumstance, does not change that.

    It simply doesn’t matter. Schools are so maladapted for today’s needs, that discussing racial variance is a secondary issue in regards to necessary reforms. (Side note: Upper schools, aka Academia, is in a state of corrupt decay that stinks up to Heaven. The off loading of R&D from Commerce onto Academia has huge societal consequences, and none are for the better. It is just more profiteering, certain groups grabbing a larger share of government spending.)

    OK, now we are both exiting the train at “Pittsfield” together, to go to work.

    How, or why, would you conflate chemically induced euphoria with optimism?

    How, or why wouldn’t you?

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30920991/

    You are clearly a pessimistic sod who does not understand that optimism leads to a “can do” attitude and it gets stuff done.

    Really, than why doesn’t McDowell County look like Beverly Hills?

    • Replies: @Randy Dazzler
  163. @Truth

    OK, now we are both exiting the train at “Pittsfield” together, to go to work.

    I appreciate the reply, and look forward to the completion. Couldn’t find “Pittsfield” on the map: https://www.riometro.org/101/Stations-Connections

    Just understand one, thing, they don’t “need” your assets because they print the money, and charge interest on it.

    This quote means you haven’t read any of my stuff here. I would recommend you do so, it is a deliberate narrative with a higher purpose. Then any reply will be more meaningful, and may even have a different tone altogether.

    This is a fine example of a character revealing statement:

    This is a white man’s country, the fact that you have been unable to take advantage of that, as tragic as it may be in your personal circumstance, does not change that.

    Assuming it even exists, which I dispute, should I have taken advantage of my “White Privilege”? You say it is tragic that I didn’t. The truth is I never looked for it, and if you think I implicitly benefited you will have to explain how. If you want to disregard, or even laugh at, my observations, that’s fine, it doesn’t invalidate them. Nor change that many of the readers here undoubtedly have seen the same thing. What is revealing about this statement is that it makes you appear to have “White Privilege” envy.

    When you tell a kid: “It’s not your fault you didn’t succeed. The system is stacked against you because of your ethnicity.” You aren’t doing them any favors in cases when it is true, and a downright disfavor when it isn’t true.

    It’s sort of the other side of the coin of you don’t do a kid a favor by doing their homework for them.

    The most tragic thing about Affirmative Action is that the people of whatever beneficiary group are assumed to be where they are at because of an unfair advantage, and those who are qualified legitimately are basically stuck in a no-win situation.

    In your case, you have evaded my accusatory issue. Start measuring your responses on whether you are simply shit stirring, antagonizing for sport, or achieve the most glorious snark, and stop the ones motivated by that. Most of your posting are race related, so that is clearly an issue with you. It isn’t with me. Are you stoking or quelling?

    To me, the racial issues are the fault line where the economic pressure on the lower strata of society reveals itself. Relieve the economic pressure and that will relieve the stress on the fault. This is the solution that actually gets at the root of the problem.

    Trust me, I’m an Analyst. (Punch line, hope you laughed.)

    There is a lot of high brow humor on this site. It is a difficult bar to reach. Good luck in your attempts.

  164. @Max Payne

    Perhaps the miners and their families, and all of us, should share the profits from mining the God-given natural resources in the ground.

    Such natural resources should be publicly owned, and all profits from their extraction used to help fund a universal basic income or universal CITIZEN medical and dental care.

    • Agree: Randy Dazzler
  165. starthorn says:

    I lived in Martinsburg, in the pandhandle yes but watched it go from the style of Beckley and Tazewell to a DC bedroom community in the span of 11 years.

    Thank you for the article. It occurred to me that they were white and didn’t get all the gibsmedats other “vibrant” communties may have gotten after their floods. Also makes one realize that the loss of industry has ruined a significant part of our country; and only made it better for the vibrants who wouldn’t work in industry without strict controls and single steps or actions per person.

  166. anonymous[107] • Disclaimer says:
    @Truth

    You see jew like dishing out BUT not takin it IN…thats antisemitic..

  167. This article confirms much of what I’ve asserted before about poverty and crime not being inextricably linked. For example, what excuse does the Biden Cartel have for their extra-legal dalliances? Certainly not impoverishment.

    If I disagree with the article on any point, it’s the assertion that drug use and criminality are inseparable. That’s as accurate as declaring that insobriety automatically equates to drunken driving, or that marriage is the door to infidelity.

    I’ve pointed this out before on other threads, but it seems appropriate to mention it again. The Country’s first Opioid Crisis was following The War to Prevent Southern Independence. So many of the men who had been seriously wounded during the conflict became morphine addicts that it became known as Old Soldier’s Disease. Newspapers and magazines for the next half century would contain numerous articles proclaiming cures for tobacco, alcohol, and opioid addictions. But, I don’t recall seeing any public outcry to have the addicts incarcerated.

    Dr. James Pemberton, a Confederate Veteran in Atlanta, had heard of a cure that they were using in France that was a mixture of Cocaine and Wine. During the 1880’s, Atlanta had an alcohol prohibition in effect which precluded the use of wine in a potential remedy. Doc Pemberton decided to substitute the kola nut for the wine and called his concoction Coca-Cola. The psychoactive component was secretly removed in 1914, and it’s been joked that the Country unknowingly kicked the cocaine habit overnight.

    Although, there were obviously some problems associated with the dependence on morphine, purse snatching, muggings, and home burglaries did not seem to be among them. Opioids of all varieties were available over the counter at any general store into the early 20th century. The first drug laws were directed at the Chinese Opium Dens in California, which were used to shanghai women for abduction into the White Slave Trade. Other forms of poppy use, tinctures, cakes, serums, etc… were still very much in fashion among all classes.

    It’s not surprising that the Sheriff would advocate harsher penalties, municipal revenue and his job depend on funding the war on drugs. That is the sad fact, and it has been for a very long time. Vice laws and the associated fines, court costs, inflated budgets, astronomical lawyer’s fees, bail bonds, the prison complex, multiple enforcement agencies and the legion of administrative personnel, are the bedrock on which the entire modern legal system is erected and the sustenance that enables it to thrive. Without drug laws, much of the existing framework would be superfluous. There would be far less need for judges, police, attorneys, bondsmen, jails, prisons, and alphabet soup agencies.

    As the article pointed out, the crimes that are committed are generally drug related, but are typically non-violent in nature. If these drugs were available as they were in the past, perhaps these people may wreck their lives, but they wouldn’t be stigmatized anymore than an alcoholic, and they wouldn’t be subject to imprisonment.

    The overdoses are something that is inherent in the illegality of the substance. It most frequently occurs when a user gets a purer sample than what they’re accustomed to. When they inject their usual dose, it is much more potent than normal, and they end up overdosing. Legalization would ensure proper product labeling, which would prevent most of those occurrences. Again, I don’t recall reading much about accidental overdoses in the late 1800’s. Although, some suicides were attributed to the intentional ingestion of a fatal amount of opioids.

    • Agree: Randy Dazzler
  168. I wonder how much of the crime is perpetrated by the few Negroes that reside in the region as compared to the White drug users? Aren’t a preponderance of the current opioid addicts elderly or infirm people who can’t afford their prescriptions? It’s hard to imagine them being very agile burglars, or to envision them sprinting down the alley with some lady’s handbag. Obviously, some younger addicts are involved in crime, but what are the statistical averages?

    According to the article, the Negroes are of the same variety that can be found in any inner city ghetto. I would assume that means living off of government subsidies, selling drugs, and believing that all of the White people around them are privileged and owe them something. It would have been interesting to see if the pervasive optimism that the author encountered extended to the Negroes. They seem to possess an innate ability to make good, bad, and bad, worse. Improvement for them almost always comes from a handout, rather than merely a hand up. And, they typically supplement those with their own helping hands by helping themselves to whatever is handy.

    • Replies: @Truth
  169. Truth says:
    @Cowtown Rebel

    I wonder how much of the crime is perpetrated by the few Negroes that reside in the region as compared to the White drug users?

    Little.

    Aren’t a preponderance of the current opioid addicts elderly or infirm people who can’t afford their prescriptions?

    No, they’re criminals.

    “Anne” is a classic example of how the opioid crisis in West Virginia has fueled human trafficking. Anne was a 25-year-old white woman with no kids, living in the urban Martinsburg area. She had a history of childhood trauma and no stable family ties. After Anne’s boyfriend started using heroin, she soon became addicted as well. A few years into their relationship he told her that she would need to start sleeping with some of his friends and drug connections.

    https://thecrimereport.org/2018/01/17/the-link-between-opioid-abuse-and-sex-trafficking/

    According to the article, the Negroes are of the same variety that can be found in any inner city ghetto. I would assume that means living off of government subsidies

    Then they fit it well with the whiteys around them.

    https://www.inquisitr.com/1278335/west-virginia-the-biggest-welfare-state-in-addition-to-being-dumb/

    Negroes. They seem to possess an innate ability to make good, bad, and bad, worse. Improvement for them almost always comes from a handout, rather than merely a hand up. And, they typically supplement those with their own helping hands by helping themselves to whatever is handy.

    Then why is WV, which is 3% black, a bigger welfare state than Alabama or Mississippi?

    • Replies: @R.C.
    , @Blueyedballer
  170. This piece was so well-balanced that my conspiratorial mind wants to chalk the author up as a plant or a shill, demonstrating supreme objectivity.
    Final analysis after second reading put me squarely in the “once in a generation” author camp.
    This was heavily enlightening, and encourages my nascent desire to move to that area while also sparking my writer’s current.
    Thank you, dear journalist, for displaying an art that has long been subsumed into centralized deceit so very boldly and carefully.
    You might not know The Master yet, but I guarantee He knows you and that knocking you hear at the door of your heart is Him. I hope that you find the joy He brings.

  171. R.C. says:
    @Truth

    Have a link for your claim that WV is a ‘bigger welfare state’? A definition?
    You conflate malum prohibitum ‘crimes’ with real crimes known as malum in se. Why should you care if someone wishes to snort Drano so long as you don’t have to pay for it?
    R.C.

  172. @Poupon Marx

    In what way/s. My spouses family is from WV and I lived in Japan for 17 years.

  173. @Truth

    Looks like someone needs to study up on Hispaniola lol

  174. @Svevlad

    You make, in my opinion, some valid points, however they are not absolute but obstacles. Comparing WV with Japan and Switzerland exposes some differences.

    Japan differs from WV in the most fundamental and profound way, its people. They are cohesive, over-achievers, perfectionist, with a high native IQ. Comparing the two, the propensity toward earthquakes and typhoons must be included. Additionally, throughout Asia, in many mountainous regions with steep slopes, TERRACED FARMING has bee implemented to multiple available acreage and quality of soil.

    Switzerland is very problematic from a self-sustaining viewpoint. It is very mountainous, the climate is Arctic-like, and there are 4 official languages. And yet neither of the above have sunk to the level of WV in hopelessness, sloth, and inertia. The cows in Switzerland are bred for transiting the steep mountains, having stronger legs and ligaments.

    Finally, some of the forested land could have been cleared for cows, sheep, or goats, depending on the specifics of the micro area.

    All in all, the excuses do not present a fatal and inevitable rationale of external causes, the preponderance of outside forces, and DOA stasis

  175. jim12345 says:

    Because we care about us. We will talk to people who ask us questions and we will be polite. We care about us.
    .

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