Charita M. Goshay: His name was 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III
Last week, newly-minted Army 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III was awarded his college diploma from Bowie State University.
He wasn’t there to receive it himself because he was murdered days earlier by a complete stranger.
His alleged killer is a white supremacist; a member of the online Facebook group “Alt-Reich:Nation.”
Police say the 23-year-old suspect attacked Collins, also 23, on the campus of the University of Maryland, where Bowie State’s commencement was set to take place.
Collins’ crime? He was waiting on an Uber when the suspect approached him and stabbed him.
So, a young man who did everything right, who did everything we tell young black men they should do, still gets murdered for no discernible reason other than the fact that he was black?
It’s very hard not to ask the universe “why?”
Less than 2 percent
From what’s being said about him, you could only hope your kid turns out to be someone like Collins. But one of the very first statements made by people who knew him was that “he’s not a thug,” for fear that if it isn’t made obvious, he won’t be seen as a victim.
That we have to quantify someone’s victimhood, only adds to the anguish.
The tragic irony is, Collins was willing to devote his life to preserve the security and freedom of some of the very people who would just as soon spit on his grave.
We are the most fortunate of nations in that, despite our issues, we continue to produce men and women like Richard Collins.
Had he lived, he would have belonged to an ever-shrinking sliver of Americans in military service. He would have been among the less-than-2 percent, a line of defense which grows ever-thinner by the decade.
But his patriotism and willingness to serve weren’t enough to save him. He joins the unfortunate ranks of minority soldiers whose service and love of country was reciprocated with unvarnished hatred.
An American terrorist
Make no mistake: The death of Richard Collins was an act of terrorism, which is why it was committed.
But good luck getting someone to identify it as such. Instead, we see journalists playing semantic footsie with people intent on destroying this country. When did it become OK to describe Americans who venerate Adolf Hitler, who offer Nazi salutes and advocate race-based genocide as simply “right-wing?”
No, Archie Bunker was a right-winger.
The normalization of such people is taking place, even as police around the country have said they’re far more worried about these groups than foreign terrorists.
Is it much ado about nothing? Consider then, the absence of media coverage. An American soldier was murdered on an American college campus by an American terrorist, and it got less attention than Pippa Middleton’s wedding.
What’s especially infuriating is Collins’ life was stolen by someone who thinks his skin color gives him the right to decide who gets to be an American.
It’s also cheated the rest of us of someone who would only have made this country better.
His name was Army 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III.
— Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.