NEW YORK, NY – A Columbia University professor was in the middle of a tense argument via Facebook with a student from another school when he allegedly resorted to tactics preferred by preschoolers: name calling.
Jeffrey Lax is the deputy chair of Columbia University’s Political Science department. The online conversation took place in April and they were discussing COVID-19. More specifically, President Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
In the course of the conversation, Lax reportedly told the student to “drop dead.”
Lax also called the student a “neo-nazi murderer-lover.”
The student was 21-year-old Gabriel Montalvo, who attends CUNY Queensborough Community College. He’s also the NY State Vice Chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.
The post in question was a political cartoon regarding President Trump and COVID-19, and Montalvo defended the president against Lax.
After the crude comments were made by Lax, Montalvo posted screenshots of the conversation on Twitter.
Montalvo wrote on Facebook:
“Libel or stupidity? Columbia University in the City of New York is this behavior reflective of the college’s views? A Deputy Chair at your university is telling a supporter of Donald J. Trump President Donald J. Trump to go die over a difference of opinion?
“He then has the gall to call a U.S. Soldier a Nazi!?
“Columbia does this violate your guidelines? I can only hope the #1A is upheld in the classroom.
“Professors and higher education establishments should be examples of the exchange of civil discussion, not cyber harassment & perverting a historic tragedy to push an agenda.”
A preview of the interview from yesterday. https://t.co/NtPrhYr7wd
— Gabriel Montalvo 🇺🇸🇪🇨 (@Baron_Montalvo) May 19, 2020
He posted something similar on Twitter, tagging the University on both posts, but Columbia didn’t respond to either one.
Montalvo told The New York Post:
“I never met Jeffrey Lax in my life. I commented on a political cartoon, where I defended President Trump on how he’s handled the pandemic, that an old high school teacher posted on Facebook.
“Mr. Lax then attacked me … He responded very belligerently and at the end of his comment he asked me, ‘Why don’t you just drop dead, you Neo-Nazi enabler.'”
Thank you to all who’ve supported, liked, followed and retweeted my situation. It appears that Mr. Lax has not only once again restricted his Twitter account, but has also changed his profile picture. I suppose it’s too much for him to handle when it’s outside of the classroom.
— Gabriel Montalvo 🇺🇸🇪🇨 (@Baron_Montalvo) May 17, 2020
The #WalkAway campaign’s founder, Brandon Straka, defended Montalvo on Twitter, saying:
“A @Columbia U PROFESSOR tells a hispanic Trump supporter to ‘go die’ and calls Trump supporters ‘neo-Nazi murderer lover’s [sic] and Nazi enablers’. This guy is educating America’s youth- in POLI SCI no less. Any response, Columbia U??”
The campaign’s purpose is stated on its Facebook page as follows:
“The #WalkAway Campaign encourages and supports those on the Left to walk away from the divisive tenets endorsed and mandated by the Democratic Party of today.
“We are walking away from the lies, the false narratives, the fake news, the race-baiting, the victim narrative, the violence, the vandalism, the vitriol. We are walking away from a party driven by hate. We are walking toward patriotism and a new, unified America! We are the future of this great nation!”
A @Columbia U PROFESSOR tells a hispanic Trump supporter to “go die” and calls Trump supporters “neo-Nazi murderer lover”s and “Nazi enablers”. This guy is educating America’s youth- in POLI SCI no less. Any response, Columbia U?? @realDonaldTrump @JackPosobiec https://t.co/MbmmEgubXa
— Brandon Straka (@BrandonStraka) April 6, 2020
On Columbia’s “Concerns, Complaints, and Grievances” page, the University does state:
“[Faculty must] show appropriate respect in an instructional setting for the rights of others to hold opinions differing from their own.”
While that doesn’t apply to Montalvo since this wasn’t in the instructional setting, it does make one wonder how the professor handles himself in the classroom.
Straka noted that it’s particularly frustrating that the University is all but ignoring Montalvo’s complaint as it’s seemingly related to nothing but politics. Now, if the complaints were made against someone’s race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., it would almost certainly have resulted in Lax’s firing.
Straka told the Campus Reform that Columbia should be disciplining the Professor for the inappropriate comments made.
Straka also said:
“Political views are not a protected class, so the system is slanted.”
Here is the cartoon that Montalvo and Lax were responding to:
— Michael de Adder (@deAdder) April 2, 2020
Montalvo’s comment was:
“People choose what they want to see and everyone has an opinion. Doesn’t help that it’s constant bash POTUS with a side of Italian hospital footage.”
Of course, he was referring to CBS using footage from Italy during the COVID-19 and passing it off as New York during the same time period. CBS claimed it was an “editing error.” Law Enforcement reported on that several times, as it happened on CBS three times. You can read the most recent report HERE.
“How stupid or racist or evil do you have to be to defend POTUS at this point…”
Montalvo responded by talking about others (namely, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Barbot and Nancy Pelosi) encouraging people to go out despite COVID-19, and then said that the President donated his salary to research.
To that, Lax said:
“woah [sic]- are you claiming Trump didn’t lie and cover up?…And you don’t know how he’s cashing in on the presidency? why don’t you just drop dead, you neo-nazi enabler.”
Lax continued in another comment:
“I’m not going to debate someone obviously lying about what is happening- I’m just shocked anyone decent would admit knowing someone as evil as to defend Trump’s inaction and actions since…”
Montalvo’s retort was:
“Jeffrey Lax, wow how ironic that the most educated person on this thread is also the most incompetent who results in playground insults. Rather than having a discussion you would rather me die?
“Aren’t you a political science educator? I could only hope that the students who take your course get a refund.”
Lax, continuing the hostility, commented:
“I’m too educated to think you are honest. I know someone defending the indefensible. Neo-nazi murderer lover. That’s all you are.”
As a reminder, Montalvo is currently serving in the United States Army National Guard.
Lax went on to say that Trump’s supporters like to “strut around [with] neonazi armband[s].”
A representative for Columbia President Lee Bollinger told Montalvo that the incident would be “reviewed.”
I had the chance to speak with Gabriel Montalvo on the phone Tuesday evening.
He told me that he didn’t want the University to feel like he was “out to get them” or that he thought the comments were their fault in any way.
He also said, however, that he wanted to make sure the school knew what’s potentially going on in their classrooms.
Montalvo said that he plans on following up using his public access show if he doesn’t get a better response from the school. His idea is to make a compilation and reach out to Jeffrey Lax’s former students to see what things were really like inside of his class.
He told me that the worst part is that Lax called him, a Hispanic soldier, a neo-nazi:
“All my life I’ve been around people who said, ‘you’re a this,’ or, ‘you’re a that,’ because of what I support. Because I’m Hispanic and because of my beliefs. I’ve actually had people tell me, ‘You believe that, then you may as well be white.’
“People have even sent me comments saying things like, ‘You won’t be so happy with Trump when he sends you overseas to die.’”
Montalvo said it’s sad that people like that are perverting history.
“They’re comparing someone who defends freedom with someone who has oppressed it. With ideology that has caused some of the worst human rights violations ever imaginable. It’s sad.”
While he did file the complaint with the University, Montalvo doesn’t plan on filing a police report. He said Lax would have had to make a more substantial threat in order to do that. But he also said that if he finds out Lax has been saying things to incite violence against him, then he absolutely will.
It would be difficult to find that out, however, because Jeffrey Lax has changed his profile picture to a wooden owl and restricted public access to his account.
Montalvo told me about some extremely disturbing messages he’s been getting since he first went public with Lax’s comments.
I’ll share one of the worst with you here, but it’s pretty bad so be forewarned:
“F**king scum of the universe Trump supporter. I will rape and impregnate your mother and kick the fetus. I’ll chop the limbs off of your father and piss on his grave.”
Montalvo said that he finds comments like that childish and almost funny. He said that people share a difference of opinion with him, and they don’t realize that they aren’t arguing with him, they’re arguing with the ideology.
“They don’t want to discuss the facts. They want to insult and enrage and be able to say they ‘got to’ me. But really, they aren’t helping their case.”
As I stated above, Montalvo is the NY State Vice Chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. He’s worked with the group for about a year and a half. He said that the mission of the organization is to spread the message of conservative values and republican ideas to minority communities.
Normally, they focus on getting people registered to vote or changing voter registrations. But with all the COVID-19 restrictions, now the group is focusing on supporting political candidates in NY. Currently they’ve officially endorsed Jamie Silvestri, who is running for NY State Assembly District 10. They’re also keeping a close eye on Mike LiPetri for US Congress.
Gabriel Montalvo is going places, mark my words. He’s 21 years old with a good head on his shoulders and is currently exploring the idea of running for his city council next year. He’s active in his community and focused on all the right things (no pun intended) and serving his country in the National Guard.
People like Jeffrey Lax need to be held accountable for the things they do on social media, in classrooms, at protests, etc.
But one thing is for sure: No matter how much they talk and try to oppress and brainwash the next generation, with people like Gabriel Montalvo in the world, our nation is going to be just fine.
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