Back in September, the superintendent of the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) rounded up 4,000 cadets and 1,500 staff members to give them a stern warning that's since been viewed online more than a million times.
"If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out," Lieutenant General Jay Silveria said. "If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out."
Lt. Silveria made the speech after five black students at the USAFA prep school found the words "get out n****r" scrawled on their dorm room message boards, an incident that roiled the campus and made national headlines. Silveria vowed that whoever was responsible would be brought to justice.
On Tuesday, USAFA announced that the slurs were actually written by one of the black students who had reported them, according to the Associated Press. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that the student scrawled the racist messages "in a bizarre bid to get out of trouble [they] faced at the school for other misconduct." The person responsible is no longer enrolled at the prep school, though it's unclear whether they were expelled or decided to withdraw.
"Regardless of the circumstances under which those words were written, they were written, and that deserved to be addressed," Silveria told the Gazette. "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."
Falsely reported hate crimes have cropped up across the US for decades, threatening to undermine legitimate reports of hate-fueled harassment and violence. After the election, two different women fabricated stories about men ripping off their hijabs while mentioning Trump and an Israeli-American teen orchestrated a wave of anti-Semitic bomb threats. On Monday, a Kansas State University student admitted to scrawling racist graffiti on his own car in what he called a "Halloween prank."
Similar incidents have served as ammunition for right-wing politicians and pundits who claim a significant number of hate crimes are hoaxes perpetrated by the left, despite the fact that genuine hate crimes are on the rise in the US and far outnumber the fakes.
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