Environmentalists are livid over some remarks by state Sen. Richard Colburn, a Cambridge Republican. Now they’re calling for a formal and public apology.
It happened during a meeting on Feb. 15 between the Eastern Shore delegation and the secretaries of the departments of Agriculture and Environment, in which lawmakers complained that agency rules are slowing down or halting projects in their counties.
Sen. Colburn, one of those at the meeting, said he believes “river keepers,” environmentalists who watch over particular waterways, are dictating business on the Eastern Shore. He compared them to watermelons: “green on the outside and red or socialist on the inside.”
Members of the Waterkeeper Alliance are red-faced with anger.
“Characterizing any and every opposing group or elected official as unpatriotic or un-American is a political tactic and has no place in any form of reasonable discourse,” said Kathy Phillips of Assateague Coastkeeper, a Waterkeeper Alliance member. “We are hard-working Maryland residents, devoting our lives in many cases, to the protection of Maryland waterways from illegal and often toxic pollution. Our groups are comprised of concerned Americans who care very deeply about their country. Waterkeepers has more than a number of veterans working to restore clean waterways in our country. Senator Colburn is engaging here in a McCarthy-like slur and he owes us an apology.”
U.S. Marine Corps Colonel (Ret.) Richard Dove, registered Republican, and Neuse Riverkeeper Emeritus (April 1, 1993 through July 4, 2000) said: “This man [State Sen. Colburn] doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t know me or any of my colleagues, that’s for sure. Having served two tours of duty in Vietnam, I take it personally when someone calls me a Red, a socialist. I understand that Sen. Colburn aligns himself with big agriculture and the commercial farms that keep him in office, but the fact that our goals are not aligned doesn’t give him the right to blindly tag our members as socialists, implying somehow that we are un-American.”
Jeff Kelble of Shenandoah Riverkeeper said his family has been in America since the 1600s, homesteaded the Shenandoah Valley in the 1700s, and fought in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. “If anything, Riverkeepers are red-blooded Americans, not Red, socialists,” he said.
One wonders whether or not Sen. Colburn has a case of the “blues” over his remark.