Here is an example of some real “fake news.”

Back in September, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria pierced the nation’s consciousness with a pointed, five-minute speech strongly condemning a racist hate incident at the Air Force Academy, where Silveria is the commandant.

Someone had scrawled racial slurs, including the N-word, outside the dorm rooms of five black cadets at the academy’s on-campus prep school. “If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect,” he thundered at 4,000 assembled cadets and academy faculty in a speech viewed more than 1 million times on the web, “then get out." Silveria won wide praise, including from leaders like such as Sen. John McCain and Apple CEO Tim Cook, for doing what President Donald Trump’s critics maintained he failed to do after the deadly white supremacists’ gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia: denounce racists and their hate.

Well, the Air Force Academy’s internal investigation recently uncovered that the incident was a hoax.

The author of the slurs, it turned out, was a black cadet, who confessed to the incident and left campus. The cadet pulled the stunt to escape punishment for misconduct, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

Interestingly Silveria, in response to the findings, told the Gazette that he believed his speech still applied.

Taken generically, we could agree. But within the context of his original remarks, and given his references to “Charlottesville and Ferguson and the protests in the NFL,” the general was clearly targeting his comments at supposedly bigoted white cadets who he — and many of us — suspected were the culprits.

Gen. Silveria was played, as were the national media that lapped up the incident and the rest of us who consumed the news as valid. Given the conventional wisdom from some precincts of academia and journalism that racism or white supremacy is ascendant, or even becoming the cultural norm, many of us easily assumed that some of our best young people could demonstrate one of man’s worst instincts.

The Air Force Academy episode, unfortunately, is not isolated.

Recently police near Kansas State University determined that racist graffiti blanketing a black man’s car also was a hoax. The alleged victim admitted to defacing his own car as a misguided Halloween prank.

Last month Reason magazine reported that supposed hate crimes targeting blacks at Eastern Michigan University and the University of Maryland were perpetrated by blacks.

Last year multiple reports surfaced of white mobs terrorizing, or even beating, black college students — at the University of Albany in New York, the University of Iowa, Bowling Green State University in Kentucky, Kean University in New Jersey. A black church in Mississippi was burned and vandalized, with the phrase “Vote Trump” spray-painted on it. A black woman in Philadelphia reported that her SUV had been spray-painted with pro-Donald Trump slogans.

Yet in each case, the stories were concocted, or the actual perpetrators were black.

We’re not singling out black Americans for this behavior. Earlier this year an 18-year-old white woman in Texas was arrested — and rightly so — after police determined her story about being kidnapped and raped by three black men was phony. Utterly ugly and shameful. And don’t get us wrong. Racism exists. Many people — people of all races, we would add — harbor contempt of others just because of their skin color. It’s despicable and when it surfaces, it must be denounced. If it prompts criminal acts, it must be punished.

Yet hair-trigger reactions to alleged hate incidents delivered without all the evidence, such as Gen. Silveria’s judgment of the academy farce and the media's uncritical assessment of some of the aforementioned incidents, only exacerbate our society's simmering racial animus. They cause us to see others through the prism of identity politics, where looking only skin deep denies all involved the common humanity we all share. Each hoax, meanwhile, just makes it easier for others to doubt actual incidents of hate.

Gen. Silveria should do another video, with the national media in tow, acknowledging this error, denouncing the fraud and apologizing for presuming the worst of those under his command. He should emphasize that it’s wrong to rush to judgment and that those who seek to whip up strife anywhere through such nonsense and lies will be shunned. That would be leadership we hope all of us could get behind.