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Right-wing groups recruiting students to target teachers

David Klein

Right-wing groups are recruiting students to target teachers
Right-wing groups are recruiting students to target teachers

By Brian Howey / October 30, 2018

When the threatening letters started to arrive, Albert Ponce stopped letting his daughter touch the mail.

Ponce, a political science professor at Diablo Valley College in the San Francisco Bay Area, and his wife didn’t know how to explain to their 9-year-old that her father was receiving death threats. “Only Mom and Dad can touch the mail” became a new house rule.

Each night after putting his daughter to bed, Ponce would peek through the windows of his home to check for strange cars or people outside, “precautionary measures,” he said, after an internet troll army had targeted him.

It started just before Christmas last year. Ponce logged in to his college email account expecting the usual: work messages, a few season’s greetings from family and colleagues, maybe some spam. Instead, he found an inbox full of vitriol.

“I might just take a trip to Mexifornia and sit in on one of your hate speeches,” read one of the hundreds of messages.
“Your (sic) racist, Marxist filth, you ave (sic) been noted and we all know you now,” read another.

Ponce soon discovered that his Facebook page and personal website were cluttered with nasty comments as well, and his office answering machine was full. Hundreds of people were calling for his firing. They slung racial epithets, told him to return to his home country (Ponce was born in Orange, California) and made thinly veiled death threats.

“The Only Good Red Is A Dead Red. Give that guy some helicopter therapy,” read one Facebook comment, a reference to a series of memes, popular in white nationalist circles, of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s practice of throwing political enemies out of helicopters.

Ponce had no idea what had started the onslaught of hate speech and death threats. What, he asked himself, had he done to deserve this?

Right-wing groups are recruiting students to target teachers