ADL Awards Air Force Lt Gen Jay Silveria Days After It Was Revealed 'Hate' Incident Was A Hoax

Chris Menahan
Nov. 14, 2017

The Anti-Defamation League awarded US Air Force Academy Lt Gen Jay Silveria on Tuesday for his "actions in standing up to racial slurs" which were scrawled on several black cadets dorm rooms at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs late last year.

They made no mention of the fact his speech was based on a hate hoax. It was widely reported last week that one of the African-American cadet "victims" admitted he drew the racial slurs on his own dorm room and elsewhere.

From the ADL's press release:
San Francisco, CA, November 14, 2017 … The superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy was honored Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for his actions in standing up to racial slurs written on doors in a student dormitory at the Colorado Springs military academy earlier this year.

Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria was presented with the ADL Americanism Award in a ceremony at San Francisco’s City Hall Rotunda, where his courageous words against racism were celebrated by local and national ADL board members, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, District Attorney George Gascón, and other dignitaries.

In September, when racial slurs appeared in the academy’s preparatory school dormitory and photos of the slurs were shared on social media, Silveria called a school-wide assembly where he made a defiant speech clearly and forcefully condemning racism. In a video that later went viral, Silveria told the assembly of nearly 5,500 students, faculty and staff: “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, Get out!”

In that simple act, he demonstrated a kind of courage that so many administrators, quite frankly, seem to lack,“In that simple act, he demonstrated a kind of courage that so many administrators, quite frankly, seem to lack,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO said in presenting the award. “The general rightfully saw the racial slurs on the wall, as writing on the wall. His clarion call for decency was heard far beyond the walls of the academy, and his message literally blotted out the social media pictures of the slurs because his words were viewed by millions of people on YouTube.”

In his remarks, Silveria said he was humbled to be so honored. He said he was accepting the award on behalf of the faculty, staff and coaches of the Air Force Academy who teach the values of leadership, integrity and excellence every day.

“My words were certainly not new,” Silveria said. “I’m in a role of teaching cadets to maintain and hold and learn those values. It was very clear to me that I needed to step out and say something right away.”
After the hoax was revealed, Silveria did not apologize to those he falsely accused of racism, but instead said it doesn't matter either way.

"Regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written, they were written, and that deserved to be addressed," Silveria said. "You can never over-emphasize the need for a culture of dignity and respect ― and those who don't understand those concepts aren't welcome here."

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