A California professor has become the victim of threats and ongoing harassment after a recording of her criticizing Donald Trump’s election was shared by a conservative student group on her campus.
Olga Perez Stable Cox, 60, is a psychology professor at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., who prides herself on speaking freely, but the Washington Post reports that when a video of her calling Trump’s election “an act of terrorism” went viral earlier this month, a wave of violent threats forced her to end her semester early and flee her Orange County home.
“Now, at 66, I’m paranoid,” Cox said. “It doesn’t feel good at all to be looking over my shoulder and wondering when an unfamiliar car pulls up across the street whether they’re going to take a picture of me or something worse—but that’s my life now.
“I feel like I’ve been attacked by a mob of people all across the country,” she added. “If they’re telling me over and over again that they want to shoot me in the face, how am I supposed to know if they’re going to do it or not?”
That mob has come to Cox in the form of hate-filled tweets, violent emails, and threatening Facebook messages and phone calls.
The video shows Cox talking to her students and calling the president-elect a “white supremacist.” She said that the country has “been assaulted,” and called Vice President-elect Mike Pence “one of the most anti-gay humans in the country.” She told her students that the nation is as divided now as it was “in Civil War times,” and noted that she was “relieved we live in California.”
Joshua Recalde-Martinez, a political science major and president of the Orange Coast College Republicans, told the Post that a conservative student in Cox’s class who found her comments to be offensive recorded her and shared the video with the campus Republican group.
According to the Post, the video went viral, and within days Cox was under fierce attack; her inbox and voicemail were filled with hundreds of threatening messages that referred to her as a “libtard,” “Marxist” and “nutcase” and as “vile leftist filth” and a “satanic cult member.”
“You professors teach that Whites are immoral and contemptible if they don’t support White Genocide,” a woman named Jennifer wrote. “Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.”
“Go out in the middle of the football field, pull out a handgun, put it to your temple and shoot yourself,” Jim Ernst wrote. “Or better yet, douse yourself in gasoline and set yourself on fire.”
As the threats worsened, campus security began dropping by her classroom, and students started escorting her from class to class and sitting with her during her office hours, a time when she would normally be alone.
Cox told the Post that she feared her office would be broken into and her home would be vandalized. The harassment reached a head when a man emailed her with her home address, phone number and salary and threatened to spread the information “everywhere.” It was then that Cox decided to leave her home.
A substitute took over her classes for the final week of the semester, but Cox only faced more harassment when the video was shown on Fox's The O’Reilly Factor. Her name has also been added to a controversial website called Professor Watchlist that lists the names of academics across the country accused of advancing “leftist propaganda” and “discriminating against conservative students.”
Cox told the Post that she has tried to get help from both the Costa Mesa Police Department and the FBI, but she was told by both agencies that until her property is vandalized or she is physically attacked, there is nothing that can be done.
In a statement emailed to the Washington Post, an FBI spokesman said the agency does not comment on information from individuals who claim to be victims of crime.
“Any member of the public who feels they are being threatened may report it to the FBI, where we will attempt to determine veracity and whether an allegation falls within our purview,” the statement said. “If they feel their life is in immediate danger, they need to call 911.”
In the meantime, Cox says she plans to return to her teaching job at the end of January. The OCC Republicans have filed a formal complaint against her with the college and have retained an attorney.
“My parents left Cuba so we would not have this kind of harassment and so we would have access to free education,” Cox said. “They made sacrifices to bring us here, and I’m proud to be an American.”
Read more at the Washington Post.