A mes­sage to salute

New York Daily News - - EDITORIAL -

In ar­guably the world’s most en­light­ened na­tion in the year 2017, some­one just scrawled “go home n----r” on a mes­sage board at the Air Force Academy’s prepara­tory school. Wast­ing no time, Lt. Gen. Jay Sil­ve­ria gath­ered stu­dents and fac­ulty and, with ring­ing moral clar­ity, laid down the mil­i­tary’s val­ues and, by ex­ten­sion, the na­tion’s:

“You may have heard that some peo­ple down in the prep school wrote some racial slurs on some mes­sage boards . . . .

“If you’re out­raged by those words, then you’re in the right place. That kind of be­hav­ior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA, and it has no place in the U.S. Air Force. . .

“That’s why we’re all here, be­cause we have a bet­ter idea. Some of you may think that that hap­pened down in the prep school and doesn’t ap­ply to us. I would be naive and we would all be naive to think that ev­ery­thing is per­fect here. . .

“We would also be tone-deaf not to think about the back­drop of what’s go­ing on in our coun­try. Things like Char­lottesville and Fer­gu­son, the protests in the NFL.

“That’s why we have a bet­ter idea . . . It’s about our diver­sity, and its the power of the diver­sity, the power of the 4,000 of you and all of the peo­ple that are on the staff tower and lin­ing the glass, the power of us as a di­verse group, the power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this coun­try, that we come from all races, we come from all back­grounds, gen­der, all makeup, all up­bring­ing . . .

“So just in case you’re un­clear on where I stand on this topic, I’m go­ing to leave you with 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 teach 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 a dif­fer­ent color skin with dig­nity and re­spect, then you need to get out.

“Reach for your phones. I’m se­ri­ous, reach for your phones . . . I want you to video­tape this so that you can have it, so that you can use it, so that we all have the moral courage to­gether, all of us on the staff tower lin­ing the glass, all of us in this room.

“This is our in­sti­tu­tion, and if you need it, and you need my words, then you keep these words. And you use them and you re­mem­ber them and you share them and you talk about them. If you can’t treat some­one with dig­nity and re­spect, then get out.”

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