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Respect not hate. Don't neglect the Air Force's core values

by Tech. Sgt. Robert L. Young
6th AMW Military Equal Opportunity

by Staff Sgt. Ralph J. Thomas
Kadena Air Base, Japan MEO Advisor

America is known throughout the world as a place where people of many races, national origins, colors and religions join together and become one; "Americans." Nothing exemplifies American diversity quite like our armed forces.

In the civilian sector, individuals often don't have an opportunity to interact with others who are different, but the military promotes teamwork and mission accomplishment. Sure, the military has some faults, but for the most part opportunities abound and are equally afforded to all members.

Our military socialization provides us with opportunities to interact with diverse people from various backgrounds and cultures. Success or failure of these various interactions is directly related to the respect that is produced during the interpersonal-intercultural communications.

Conversely, nothing can divide us more quickly than hate. Accessing hate messages through the Internet has the tendency to plant negative seeds that sabotage good order and discipline, thus, hindering overall mission accomplishment.

Hate is described as intense hostility and aversion deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. There currently are 457 active hate groups, according to Joe Roy, Director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Easy accessibility to the Internet means anyone with a message, either positive or negative, can find a place to post it. Among the 13 million or so Web sites on the Internet, approximately 400 preach hate. Service members should be well aware visiting hate sites are not authorized on government computers. However, the rhetorical question I pose is, "How can you maintain Air Force Core Values and visit hate sites off duty?"

An example of hate influencing service members occurred in 1995, when three white soldiers from Fort Bragg were charged in the killing of an African-American. The police said it was an outing to find blacks to harass. When the killers were arrested, police found a 9-mm semiautomatic pistol, white supremacist pamphlets, Hitler pamphlets and a Nazi flag. The suspects were not part of any organized hate group, but they were pretenders, who had a gun and decided to shoot two people.

"Only about 10 to 15 percent of hate crimes are committed by people who belong to groups," said Roy, adding that, "most crimes are committed by Fred down the street."

One year after the incident Army Lt. Gen. John M. Keane said, "We did not see this cancer coming. We missed the signs, symbols and manifestations of extremism."

The lessons learned from the general's candid disclosure reveals that early identification and education is the keys to preventing future hate crimes.

As Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "we must learn to work together as brothers, or perish together as fools." The best way to accomplish our mission is to stay focused on the mission, treat each other with respect, and embrace diversity in the workplace. These principles are inherent in our wing motto, "Mission First, People Always, and America Forever."

The bottom line: We share a common goal to defend our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic, and that includes the enemy known as, "hate."

 

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