Politics | September 29, 2017 9:43 am

Air Force Academy General: Racists Need to ‘Get Out’

Racial slurs were found written on message boards at the academy's prep school.

Racial slurs were found written on message boards at the Air Force Academy preparatory school, so the head of the Academy gathered all 4,000 cadets on Thursday to tell them “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.”

The Gazette reports that Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria told the cadets to take out their cell phones and record his main message. (Watch the speech in the video above.)

On Tuesday, five black students at the prep school woke up to find “Go Home” followed by the epithet, writes The Gazette, on message boards outside their rooms. Sources seem to believe it was a single person based on the handwriting, and security forces are looking into the matter.

The prep school is a year-long program that gives candidates a year of rigorous tutoring so they can meet the academy’s academic standards, reports The Gazette. Racial slurs are illegal in the military and can be court-martialed. Whoever wrote the slurs could face charges of violating orders and conduct unbecoming an officer, reports The Gazette. 

Silveria has made it clear since he took command in August that his highest priority is to create an environment of “dignity and respect,” The Gazette reports. About fifteen hundred officers, sergeants, athletic coaches and civilian professors came to Thursday’s meeting, which was not mandatory. The general said them coming shows their “dedication to stamping out racism at the school.” The Gazette reports that about a third of cadets are minorities.

Silveria wants the cadets to take this issue seriously as well, saying “you should be outraged.” Silveria also said that he wants to make it clear that he was not hiding this from anyone. The Gazette writes that this is very different than how the academy has dealt with controversy in recent years. Previously, they have hidden things like sexual assault and even an on-campus death from the public.

Silveria called the families of the five cadet candidates who were targeted in the racial slur incident.

The Gazette writes that the military has “stood as a beacon of relative harmony” since 1948 when President Harry Truman issued an order that ended racial bias in the ranks. Since then, the military has also begun accepting LGBTQ members, though this summer, President Donald Trump tweeted his intent to ban transgender troops.

Silveria said that recent events have highlighted racial issues, such as NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality (and Trump’s comments in response to their protest), and protests over confederate statues around the nation.

“My point is we can’t pretend that doesn’t impact us,” he said, according to The Gazette. However, he will not let incidents like this continue at the academy. “No one can write on a board and take away our ideals.”