Breaking: Racial Slurs at USAFA were a Hoax

The US Air Force Academy announced that the racial slurs written on message boards at the USAFA Prep School in September were written by one of the supposedly targeted black cadets [emphasis added]:

In a written statement Tuesday, the academy said, “We can confirm that one of the cadet candidates who was allegedly targeted by racist remarks written outside of their dorm room was actually responsible for the act. The individual admitted responsibility and this was validated by the investigation.”

Even at the time a few people cautiously wondered if the incident was too “obvious” to be true, particularly in light of the other racial incidents going on around the country at the time.

Superintendent LtGen Jay Silveria’s response to the racist incident virtually made him an instant internet celebrity.

As to the motivation:

Several sources say the cadet candidate, who hasn’t been identified, committed the act in a bizarre bid to get out of trouble he faced at the school for other misconduct.

The fact that the incident was “fake” does not detract from LtGen Silveria’s response. The fact the racist slurs were written by an African-American does not make him any less racist (popular culture notwithstanding). One does wonder, though, if Gen Silveria would have made his famous speech at all if he’d known then who the cadet was.

The incident — along with other similar ones in society at the time — provides an interesting window into assumptions, racial stereotyping, perceptions, and “race relations” both within the military and in greater society.

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6 comments

  • “Billy hit me!” screams a lying child to his/her parent. This is what we have here, and the parent, Gen Silveria, believes the lie and immediately punishes the innocent sibling. Silveria should apologize to the cadet wing for his own false accusation. It is not worthy of a commander to automatically side with one subordinate over another before the facts are known.

    Our culture has stupidly bought the lie that only whites can be guilty of racism. Some of the most blatant and hateful racists today are in the black community. The chants and actions of many BLM supporters and Louis Farrakhan supporters prove that fact beyond a shadow of a doubt. This is not a white problem or a black problem; it is a human problem that all of us, black and white, are susceptible to.

    Christ correctly identified the problem when He said that ANYONE who harbors hate in his heart against another is guilty of murder (Mt. 5). The solution to the problem is to accept Christ’s verdict, seek His forgiveness and give your life over to Him so that you don’t become a repeat offender.

  • But … but … I thought facts are irrelevant? And there is no such thing as objective truth? If they identify as victims, who are we to judge?

  • I believe its a bit more complicated Michael Martin. Regardless who did it, the message Gen Silveria sent was a correct one at the time, and he had to get in front of it fast. I did not hear him place blame, but he said “if you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, get out.”; and this included the cadet that started all of this in the first place. I agree with you that racism is not just a color of skin, it’s an epidemic in this country and needs to stop. Playing the race card to avoid a situation is also wrong, but it happens, and only a complete investigation can uncover it.

    It is a foregone conclusion that a situation like this will happen again; we must strive for a better solution to racism, we keep kicking the can down the road and its gotta stop.

  • Delta One,

    Having watched the video of Gen Silveria delivering his “remarks” to the cadet wing, there is no doubt in my mind of his intent. The context was an immediate presumption that some unknown white racist had “attacked” an innocent black prep-school student, followed by the additional presumption that the cadet wing also harbored racist attitudes. The Academy cadet wing, standing at attention in the dining hall, was then warned not to repeat the same type of behavior, as if they themselves were also guilty. Not content with hurling his own prejudgment at the assembled cadets, the General lined up all the faculty, coaches, etc. to glare down at them from the staff tower.

    As a former cadet and Academy instructor I am very familiar with how those things are done. The cadets are not stupid and they can read between the lines of what is being said to them. The General emphasized dignity and respect several times, but in my opinion, he failed on those counts himself. Rather than giving cadets a measure of dignity and respect, he presumed them guilty from the start and harshly dressed them down in front of the entire faculty, and now, via the Internet, in front of the entire nation as well. Now that the unfortunate truth has been revealed, will the General apologize? Of course not. Generals rarely, if ever, apologize for anything.

    • To be fair to Michael Martin’s point, LtGen Silveria’s speech was explicitly directed at the cadets’ conduct toward people different than themselves. Everyone understood that. When he said

      If you can’t treat someone from another race, or a different color skin, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.

      not a single person was thinking about a black cadet using a racial slur toward another black cadet.

  • To be fair, it was a racial slur, what was Siliveria supposed to presume, that it was a black person that actually did it? The general didn’t call only white people on the carpet, and what he said included all races and skin colors; in this case the black cadets actions did not have dignity and respect.

    So now everyone may assume a black cadet will aways be the knucklehead that did it, even if they didn’t. We realize nothing here, except to make Gen Sillveria one of the bad guy, even though he did the right thing under the circumstances, in my opinion. He may take a different approach in the future.

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