Two universities this month were embroiled in alleged racist incidents that led to campus alerts and national controversy. It turns out however that the “victims” at both the Air Force Academy and Kent State were actually the aggressors in the creation of racist hoaxes. The incident at the Air Force Academy led to an angry speech by Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, who ordered all 4000 cadets to stand at attention as he railed on the racist or racists in their ranks.
Racial slurs were found outside of the rooms of five black students at the Air Force Academy dormitory in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The YouTube video of Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria received national acclaim as he declared “We would also be tone deaf not to think about the backdrop of what is going on in our country . . . If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, get out.” The Washington Post used the video as the basis for an opinion piece, titled “Too bad Trump can’t emulate the military when it comes to matters of race.” The column declared “Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria did naturally what Trump is incapable of doing. The Air Force Academy superintendent answered the hate in his ranks immediately, head-on and with a moral clarity nonexistent in the Oval Office.”
The student is no longer at the school and it is not clear if the student was expelled or withdrew. The school simply released a statement that “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.”
Kansas faced the same bizarre twist on its own racist controversy after Dauntarius Williams, 21, complained that someone put racist graffiti on her own car on Halloween. The graffiti included such messages as “Go Home,” ”Date your own kind,” and “Die.” One thing was odd from the outset. The alleged racist used washable paint in the incident in an apartment complex near Kansas State University. It led to an emergency meeting of the Black Student Union as well as meetings with administrators and local politicians, including a live event rallying the community against racists. The FBI also opened a civil rights investigation into a possible hate crime.
Now here is the equally bizarre twist. After causing community wide and university wide trauma, the police decided not to charge Williams with filing a false report. It simply stated obliquely that such a charge would “not be in the best interests of the citizens” of Manhattan.
Williams insisted that “The whole situation got out of hand when it shouldn’t have even started . . . It was just a Halloween prank that got out of hand. I wish I could go back to that night but I can’t. I just want to apologize from the bottom of my heart for the pain and news I have brought you all.”
These hoaxes obviously cause not just trauma to these communities but real harm to actual victim of racism. The hoaxes plays in the narrative of some that concerns over racism on campus are overblown. There is real racism out there and these hoaxes undermine not just those real concerns but real victims.
Do you believe either of these individuals should have been criminally charged?