Some time ago, I read an article about Diablo Valley College Professor, Albert Ponce. It was obvious from what I read—if the article was accurate—that the man is either a communist or an anarchist; I’m not sure which. I wanted to find out a little bit about the man and after a few minutes I happened unto a webpage in which some of his students expressed their feelings about the professor. Some were complimentary (sycophantic), but many described a man who is an abusive bully. A man who attacks those who do not agree with his beliefs and that intimidates students who simply want the opportunity to express their own opinions and worldviews. It seemed that Dr. Ponce doesn’t like to teach as much as he likes to indoctrinate. (See YouTube video of Ponce’s lecture). (See additional related article.)
After reading all of this information, I wrote Professor Ponce and challenged him to a debate. I simply wanted to see if his beliefs were founded on personal experience. Surely, a man like Dr. Ponce has lived in Cuba, China or at least one of the former Soviet Bloc nations. I’m sure that with all he has to say about the wonders of Socialism and Communism, he must have worked on collective farms and been able to compare socialist production models against those of the capitalist west. In order to support his socialist beliefs, he must have extensive experience as a concentration camp guard, abusing, torturing and perhaps even killing a few inmates. I’m also sure that his students would like to see personal photographs of him rubbing shoulders with Raul Castro, Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping. Surely, Dr. Ponce’s platitudes are not based on simple vitriolic rhetoric, talking points and baseless revulsion he feels for the United States. Please tell me that his experience abroad can’t be limited to Chiapas, Mexico in 1999 (I was in Cuba conducting research of my own that year) where he blamed the North American Free Trade Agreement for the problems of the indigenous tribes.
Surely, he must know what it’s like to observe grieving relatives being forced to dig the corpses of their rotting relatives from temporary graves, one piece at a time. He must have experience urinating and defecating on graves as the widows of his enemies looked on. He must surely have extensive experience in all of these things or he is just an empty wind bag.
The irony of Professor Albert Ponce is that all that he has gained and earned was achieved in a free society. I heartily congratulate Dr. Ponce for his academic success. Nobody can take that away from the man. He obviously recognizes the hard work it took, the sleepless nights, living without to make his tuition payments, sacrificing to realize his dreams, etc. I’m sure that along the way, he was allowed to express an opinion, a point of view or a long-held conviction. He must have expressed those ideals during some examination, either vocally or in writing. His doctoral dissertation must have expressed some of his personal doctrines and beliefs, and because of that liberty to express those beliefs, he didn’t suffer the indignity of having the dreaded Secret Police come to his door at night to frighten him into silence. And yet, with all of his rich experience, now he wants to shutter the hearts, minds and passions of students, parents or others who don’t agree with him. His weapon at present is intimidation, but by every insinuation of his hateful speech, it is clear to see that his weapon of choice may one day be a rifle or a gun.
The First Amendment doesn’t have to protect the beautiful utterances of historic poetry, classical music or our favorite and profound Bible passages. The First Amendment was fashioned to protect the stupid, the hateful and the obtuse declarations of the vilest among us. That is free speech. That is living in an open and free society. When I first came to this country, the Klu Klux Klan was still allowed to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. People who stood on the sidewalk witnessing this, yelled at the klansmen and expressed their verbal rejection of them, but they knew that this hate group had as much right to protest in our nation’s capital as any other citizen’s group. To be honest, I felt freer and safer back in those days than I do right now.
The most profound statement that I have found on free speech I heard in a movie called, “The America President.” It says,
“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.”
If Professor Ponce can just get past the visions of his own grandeur, maybe he can stop long enough to listen to what his students want to tell him. Maybe he can actually be a teacher and learn something himself.
Maximo A. Gomez
Los Banos, CA
Gomez is the author of “Beyond This Vale of Tears One Cuban Family’s Story,” a guest writer for the Salinas Californian newspaper, a former senior intelligence analyst with the United States Army, a former associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Los Banos, an evangelist, and recently started his own ministry.