Ky. Voices: Comments on Eastern Kentucky, coal smack of condescension

December 31, 2012 

Thomas P. Dupree Jr. owns Dupree Financial Group in Lexington and hosts a local radio show on economic issues.

  • At issue: Nov. 25 column by Herald-Leader editorial writer Jamie Lucke, "Ky. vs. the future: Will state's politicians enable a surrender to defeatism?"

I would like to respond to a recent column by Herald-Leader editorial writer Jamie Lucke. The statements in quotation marks are hers. To wit: "Just as four years ago Barack Obama's 'hope and change' served as a conveniently vague magnet for all kinds of ideals and grievances, the 'war on coal' has become a similar catch-all."

Is Lucke suggesting that the national impulse to elect and recently re-elect Obama president arises from the same impulse that caused Kentuckians to rally around the "war on coal," an impulse that Lucke believes to be uninformed at best and fear-driven at worst? In shorthand, are the voters who elected Obama as uninformed as the rural Kentuckians who voted against their own futures by sending Andy Barr to Washington?

"An industry PR campaign set the stage for coal to become a rallying cry for Kentuckians who feel their ways of life or livelihoods are under siege. And many Kentuckians still can't wrap their minds around having a black man in the White House."

So is Lucke saying that because many Kentuckians feel their ways of life are threatened that it also makes them racist? Isn't this the code she is using?

According to her original statement that the same impulse that got Obama elected and re-elected is what got Andy Barr elected, are those who elected Obama also racist? Or did she change her mind about what got Obama elected?

"Then, along came the election, and not only was Obama re-elected, a couple of states approved gay marriage and the land of Paul Ryan knowingly elected a lesbian to the Senate. (Was that not foretold in the Book of Revelation?)"

Lucke makes a huge leap here from talking about Chandler and Barr, coal and Obama, to gay marriage, lesbian senators from Wisconsin and the Bible. She makes the leap so quickly that it comes across as a non-sequitur. Is this setting the stage for her to suggest that Kentuckians are really out of step with what is going on in the rest of the country? Is her mention of the Book of Revelation her way of observing that Kentuckians who study biblical prophecy are also dunces?

It seems so. She ties together racist, homophobic, old technology, fearmongering Bible-thumpers to a political party, the same party whose candidate won the 6th Congressional District, in this flourish:

"What worries me is this: If enough Kentuckians convince themselves the future is out to get them that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, then Kentucky really is sunk."

But there's hope:

"The Republican appeal to our sense of victimhood didn't work everywhere. Barr lost big in his hometown of Lexington with its diverse, well-educated population and 6.2 percent unemployment."

Is this a way of saying the voters in the Lexington are smart and those in other parts of the 6th District are stupid?

"By supporting Obama for the second time, Lexington and Louisville were no different than other cities, including in red states. (Obama carried Jackson, Miss.) Rural voters, most of whom will never have to worry about paying taxes on income above $250,000 and who depend heavily on government programs such as Social Security and Medicare, voted against their own interests."

Once again, is this to suggest that the people in the cities in Kentucky are smarter than those in the country? Did she mention that Jackson, Miss., is 80 percent-plus African- American, a group that supported Obama by more than 93 percent nationwide? Is that racist? And does she suggest that she knows what voters' best interests are better than they?

"But it seems to me you can't go wrong by building on your assets. In Kentucky that starts with land and water."

But not people?

"I hope someone in power champions reforesting strip-mined mountains, using techniques developed by UK scientists."

What? While we are at it, why not hope for Kentucky's new football coach to win the SEC next year.

In my nearly 50 years of living in Lexington, having been born in Harlan, I have noticed a condescending attitude of flat-landers toward mountaineers. In native-born Bluegrass residents it is understandable. In those from Eastern Kentucky, like Lucke, it is galling.

Please improve the Herald-Leader's editorial style. And understand that it is a newspaper for all of Central and Eastern Kentucky.

Thomas P. Dupree Jr. owns Dupree Financial Group in Lexington and hosts a local radio show on economic issues.

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