Harlan was the site of a bitter union strike by coal miners in the 1930s. Rich, out-of-state financiers like President Donald Trump had used deception to get the property rights to the coal and then paid the miners poverty wages to extract it.
The rich financiers bribed politicians to use law enforcement and the Kentucky National Guard to suppress the miners. The wife of a union organizer wrote the famous protest folk song, “Which Side Are You On?” in response.
The recent issue between two students at Transylvania University involved a white student from Harlan and an Hispanic student brought to the U.S. when she was 2 years old. Her parents risked everything to provide a better life for their children just like those coal miners in Harlan 80 years ago.
Somehow, Trump has persuaded the student from Harlan that the decline of the American middle class is not due to financiers like Trump taking much more than their share.
Instead, the student believes Trump’s contention that those poorer than him are getting “something for nothing.”
The two students have much more in common with each other than either does with Trump.