“If you can’t treat someone from another race or different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out,” Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt Gen Jay Silveria blunty told cadets on Thursday after the racial slurs were found at its preparatory academy.
"If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out," he insisted in a videotaped address to the cadets and faculty that he encouraged them to record with their cellphones and disseminate.
The speech has been shared more than 20,000 times on Facebook. The tweet from the U.S. Air Force has also gone viral with more than 7,000 shares.
The U.S. Air Force Academy reports that racial slurs were found Monday on dorm message boards of five African American cadets at the preparatory school.
“If you’re outraged by those words, then you’re in the right place," Silveria said.
“That kind of behavior has no place at the Prep School, has no place at USAFA and has no place in the United States Air Force,” he added.
Silveria said it would be "tone deaf" not to relate the racial slurs at the academy to "what is going on in our country," mentioning recent incidents such as a Nazi protest in Charlottesville, North Carolina and racial tension in Ferguson, Missouri after a police-related shooting of a black man.
Silveria made no reference to President Donald Trump and public questioning of his failure ot rppovide leadership on issues of race that have divided the country. However, his emphatic speech was in sharp contrast to Trump's inconsistent statements on the subject, and the vocal support for the president among white supremacists.
Instead, he recommended talking about issues and focusing on the "power of diversity."
“It’s 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, that we come from all backgrounds, gender, all make-up, all upbringing,” he said. “The power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful.”
"You need to get out."
"Just in case you're unclear where I stand," Silveria concluded with what he called his "most important thought" about the incident, telling racists "you need to get out." He repeated the phrase five times for effect:
"If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then 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 different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”
He concluded by telling the audience to "reach for your phones" asking them to record his message. "I'm serious," he added.
"I want you to videotape this so that you have it, so that you can use it, so that we all have the moral courage together," he said. "Keep these words, and you use them and you remember them, and you share them and you talk about them."