Richard W. Collins III, fatally stabbed last weekend on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus, was as innocent as the 22 victims slain in the Manchester suicide bombing on Monday. Collins, an African American, newly commissioned U.S. Army officer from Maryland, was, like the victims of the Manchester, England, massacre, not bothering anybody. Slated to graduate from Bowie State University this week, Collins was simply out with friends enjoying himself. So, too, were those killed and wounded in Manchester.
Authorities are investigating Collins’s death, allegedly at the hands of a knife-wielding University of Maryland student, Sean Urbanski, as a possible hate crime. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), speaking on the House floor, called the killing of his constituent a “vicious crime probably motivated by hate.” The cause has not been pinned down.
In Manchester, there’s certainty.
That attack is deemed an act of terrorism spurred by an aim to intimidate and make a statement about the presumed religion, nationality and cultural values of the victims. The Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the murders has not been substantiated.
But the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, reportedly was radicalized recently. Flirtation with the dark side may have also attracted Urbanski.
According to University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell, Urbanski belonged to a Facebook group where members post racist and other offensive statements. Mitchell described the postings as “despicable” and said they showed “extreme bias against women, Latinos, persons of the Jewish faith and especially African Americans.”
What’s striking about these unprovoked attacks is how much is known about motivators of extremists abroad and how little is known, or at least discussed, about instigators of extremism here at home.
On Sunday, President Trump denounced those who practice terrorism and spread its “vile creed.” And he urged his listeners to “stand in uniform condemnation” of terrorism and “barbaric attacks.”
Trump’s message, however, was delivered to an international audience in Saudi Arabia.
Would that the president’s voice could be heard on threats posed here at home.
It would be good to hear a presidential condemnation of the kind of hate being investigated as behind Collins’s death.
Or hear Trump express outrage at the March stabbing of an African American man in New York, allegedly by a white supremacist from Maryland who police say admitted traveling to the Big Apple to indulge his long-harbored hatred of black men. He wanted to trigger a killing spree against African Americans, police said.
Those individual hate crimes apparently don’t rise to presidential attention, at least not like Manchester’s multiple deaths, which tend to focus the mind. But solitary attacks add up.
As the Anti-Defamation League noted in a new report, “A Dark & Constant Rage: 25 Years of Right-Wing Terrorism in the United States,” the United States has experienced a long string of terrorist incidents, with many connected not to Islamist terrorists but to right-wing extremists.
The findings were startling.
The ADL analyzed 150 terrorist acts in the United States that were committed, attempted or plotted by right-wing extremists. “More than 800 people were killed or injured in these attacks,” the ADL said, noting that the attacks “surged during the mid-to-late 1990s and again starting in 2009” — the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency.
They also looked at other acts of violence and determined that “from 2007 to 2016, a range of domestic extremists of all kinds were responsible for the deaths of at least 372 people across the country. Seventy-four percent of these murders came at the hands of right-wing extremists such as white supremacists, sovereign citizens and militia adherents.”
And, reported the ADL, the hate and terror mongers choose their marks carefully: Jews, Muslims and — the most common racial target — African Americans.
According to The Post, a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino showed an overall increase of 13 percent in hate crimes reported, with 1,812 incidents reported in 2016 — the year of our nasty, hate-filled presidential race.
So how about pivoting from Saudi Arabia to turn White House attention to our own homegrown terrorist problem? After all, right-wing extremism may be the predicate that led a hate-filled white student to pick up a knife in the middle of spring commencement celebrations and stab an innocent and promising young man of color to death.
Surely that is worth a presidential thought or two.
Manchester has prompted elevation of Britain’s threat level to its highest.
In light of Richard Collins’s murder, the discovery of a noose in a fraternity house this month, as well as white supremacist fliers posted on campus earlier this year, where is the University of Maryland’s threat level? How about America’s?
After all, haters seem emboldened as never before.
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