A message to salute
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.”