The media hailed Air Force Lt Gen Jay Silveria for condemning “hate” and “racism” in an “impassioned speech” late last year after “Go Home Ni**er” was found scrawled on several black cadets’ dorm rooms.
“Air Force Academy head to racists: ‘Get out,'” CNN’s headline read at the time.
Here’s some highlights from Silveria’s speech as NPR glowingly reported last September:
“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.”
[…]”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.”
It turns out — shockingly — it was all a hoax.
From The Air Force Times:
One of the five black Air Force Academy preparatory school cadet candidates who had racial slurs written on their dormitory message boards has admitted to writing the slurs, the academy said in a Tuesday statement.
The cadet candidate is no longer a student at the prep school, said Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, spokesman for the academy.
Rather than admit they were wrong and apologize for falsely accusing innocent people, Herritage and Silveria said it doesn’t matter either way:
“Racism has no place at the academy, in any shape or form,” Herritage said. “We will continue to create a climate of dignity and respect for all, encourage ideas that do so, and hold those who fail to uphold these standards accountable.”
In an emailed statement, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, superintendent for the academy, stressed that these actions were unacceptable, no matter who was responsible.
“Regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written, they were written, and that deserved to be addressed,” Silveria said. “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.”
Here’s some reactions to the news from the comment section in Silveria’s speech on YouTube:
Four similar hate hoaxes were exposed in just the last few weeks.