Proceedings turned ugly in the PA House’s State Government Committee after its Chairman was accused of allowing a white supremacist to speak at their hearing for an “English Only” bill.
Rep. Leslie Acosta took exception to Robert Vandervoort’s appearance at the committee meeting, according to a report by Christian Alexandersen of the Patriot-News. Vandervoort has been labeled a “past and present leader of white nationalist groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe – PA’s “No. 1 Conservative,” according to his website – attempted to diffuse the situation, chalking it up to a misunderstanding and explaining that Vandervoort is not a white supremacist, but a white nationalist.
“The comments that she made about some alleged white supremacist being in our meeting was outrageous,” Metcalfe said. “It was an email put out alleging that somebody was a white nationalist, which is quite a bit different from a white supremacist.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center would beg to differ. White nationalist organizations “espouse white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, often focusing on the alleged inferiority of nonwhites,” the SPLC said.
But Metcalfe was not finished in his vehement defense of Vandervoort.
“To say somebody is a nationalist and for the independence of their country and a patriot to defending their country is a lot different than saying somebody is a racist,” Metcalfe said, though he didn’t clarify what was threatening the country’s sovereignty. “For whoever said the man was white to begin with, that person is a racist – tying his skin color to his patriotism and what he stands up for for his country.”
After shelving anti-discrimination rights for LGBT Pennsylvanians in August – and with budget negotiations at a standstill – Metcalfe is now shifting his focus to establishing English as the state’s official language.