An Air Force general battles hate. He doesn't use force.
Heard on the Internet today, the U.S. Air Force Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, responds to racial slurs found on message boards at the the Air Force's prep school. Spoiler: It's a brilliant speech. Highlights:
You should be outraged not only as an airman but as a human being ... The appropriate response for horrible language and horrible ideas, the appropriate response is a better idea ...
We would be naive to think we shouldn't discuss this topic. 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.
One of those ideas: The dean brought people together to discuss Charlottesville because what we should have is a civil discourse and talk about these issues. That's a better idea.
Watch the whole thing:
That's leadership. He confronted the problem, made a definitive value statement, put it in the local and broader context, and proposed a solution by comforting the disturbed ("have a civil discourse") and disturbing the comfortable ("if you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out").
Amid the protests of late and the news coverage of them, in this time of rapid social, political and technological change, the crowd has overtaken the community. We cannot grow as a nation and put racism -- in all its forms -- behind us with screams or kneeling or with sticks or by pretending it doesn't exist.
Talk about it. Listen. Forgive.