State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican firebrand from Cranberry known for controversial remarks, yesterday refused to back down on comments in which he suggested a group of veterans were "traitors" for promoting a message about climate change.
The group, called Operation Free, was on the Pennsylvania leg of a 21-state bus tour when Mr. Metcalfe leveled the accusation in an e-mail. The veterans had invited him and other elected leaders to attend a visit to Pittsburgh that took place last night.
"As a veteran, I believe that any veteran lending their name, to promote the leftist propaganda of global warming and climate change, in an effort to control more of the wealth created in our economy, through cap and tax type policies, all in the name of national security, is a traitor to the oath he or she took to defend the Constitution of our great nation!" Mr. Metcalfe said in his e-mail response.
"Remember Benedict Arnold before giving credibility to a veteran who uses their service as a means to promote a leftist agenda. Drill Baby Drill!!!"
Rep. Metcalfe, who served in the U.S. Army from 1980-84, defended the remarks, saying "if the type of policies that an individual promotes undermines the Constitution and the law of the land in our country, then they are not patriots." He said cap-and-trade proposals on carbon emissions interfere with the rights of businesses and states and violate Constitutional principles. "It looks like, from their violent reaction from their statement, they haven't disputed that it's leftist propaganda," he said of the veterans group.
One member of the group, Alex Cornell Du Houx, a decorated Marine combat veteran who joined in the battle of Fallujah three years ago, said he was troubled by Mr. Metcalfe's remarks.
"It's disappointing that a fellow service member would make such comments. We're just waiting for him to have a chance to apologize for those remarks," Mr. Du Houx said.
He said both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Marine Corps have begun programs to reduce carbon emissions in their own facilities. "The unfortunate reality is that he stands opposed to our military leaders. They know this is a threat and he should, too."
State Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-Delaware, called on Mr. Metcalfe to apologize, calling climate change "an issue that should be treated seriously, not with name-calling."
Mr. Metcalfe previously triggered controversy this year when he opposed a resolution declaring Domestic Violence Awareness month in Pennsylvania because, in addition to the mention of those abused by spouses, the resolution included a reference to men suffering domestic abuse as well. Mr. Metcalfe said he interpreted that to mean people involved in homosexual relationships and said he would not support it because it "had a homosexual agenda."
Last year he refused to support a vote to honor the 60th anniversary of a Muslim group in the state because "Muslims don't recognize Jesus Christ as God."
The latest remarks by Mr. Metcalfe brought some angry reactions.
"There are some pretty radical politicians out there who say some pretty outrageous things, but I've never heard anybody call somebody a traitor merely for speaking their mind," said Michael Morrill, a spokesman for Keystone Progress, a left-of-center policy group in Harrisburg that is supporting the bus tour.
Dennis B. Roddy can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1965.