'You Should Be Outraged,' Air Force Academy Head Tells Cadets About Racism On Campus, NPR, September 29, 2017Chaser...
After racial slurs were scrawled outside black students' doors at the U.S. Air Force Academy's preparatory school, Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria gathered all 4,000 cadets in a hall Thursday so they could hear one message: Treat people with dignity and respect — or get out.
"That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA, and it has no place in the United States Air Force," Silveria said, in a speech that has found an enthusiastic reception after it was recorded and published online.
"You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being."
Speaking to a crowd of some 5,500 people that included faculty, coaches, airstrip personnel and senior officers and staff of the 10th Air Base Wing that includes the academy, Silveria urged them not to let their institution be taken away from them.
"The appropriate response for horrible language and horrible ideas — the appropriate response is a better idea," Silveria said. "So that's why I'm here. That's why all these people are here."
Both the academy and the Air Force amplified Silveria's message through videos and tweets drawing on his speech.
The academy is investigating an incident involving the N-word from earlier this week, when, as local newspaper The Gazette reports, "five black students woke up Tuesday to find 'Go Home' followed by the epithet scrawled on message boards outside their rooms."
The Gazette, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., south of the school's base, adds, "Sources at the academy said there appeared to be a single vandal involved, judging by the handwriting."
While acknowledging that the academy isn't a perfect institution, Silveria said it would be naive not to speak about racism — and that it would be tone-deaf not to do so in the current climate in America, including racist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., and elsewhere.
The Air Force Academy draws people from all races, the superintendent said, and from all walks of life, all parts of the country, all genders and upbringings.
"The power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful," Silveria said. "That's a much better idea than small thinking and horrible ideas."
Toward the end of his address, Silveria said:
"Just in case you're unclear on where I stand on this topic, I'm going to leave you my most important thought today: If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you can't treat someone from another gender, whether that's a man or a woman, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can't treat someone from another race, or different color skin, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out."Those in the room listened in silence. To make sure his message was received and taken away, Silveria told cadets and others present to get out their phones and record it. Citing the need for the group to have moral courage and protect their institution's values, he then repeated his message: "If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out."
Air Force Academy finds cadet candidate responsible for racist messages, The Gazette, November 7, 2017Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria doubled-down on his "get out" message, even though it was a hoax perpetrated by the black cadet who was originally pegged as the helpless victim.
An Air Force Academy cadet candidate once thought the victim of racial slurs at the preparatory school on campus was actually the vandal who scrawled the threatening messages across the note boards outside his room and the dwellings of classmates.
The academy confirmed that finding Tuesday afternoon, and stood by a stern speech given by its top general in the wake of the incident. Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria gathered cadets and staff members for a speech that has gone viral in videos posted across the internet. He said that those who can't respect others "need to get out."
"Regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written, they were written, and that deserved to be addressed," Silveria said in a Tuesday email. "You can never over-emphasize the need for a culture of dignity and respect - and those who don't understand those concepts, aren't welcome here."
Remember what I've written for almost three years... America is irredeemable. This story and the reaction to the now established hoax by Lt. Gen. Silveria - "regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written..." - illustrate quite clearly our nation is irredeemable.
The words were written to denigrate white people and create an atmosphere where the black cadet became an instant cause celebre.
And Lt. Gen. Silveria, a dutiful soldier advancing the egalitarian cause, knows a racial hate hoax (designed to augment the already highly toxic culture of hatred against whites) must always be positioned as a way to address the words that were written, "regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written."