By now everyone in the world with an Internet connection knows the story: 14-year-old Muslim student Ahmed Mohamed was arrested at his Texas high school for the unconscionable crime of bringing in a home-built clock to show his engineering teacher. Teachers, administrators and police pretended the clock might be a bomb (because OMFG he’s a Muslim! HELLO?!!!), but of course they never for one second believed any such thing. Otherwise the school would have been evacuated immediately, and a bomb squad sent in. Instead, five regular cops showed up and proceeded to physically handle the scary, scary clock, search all of Ahmed’s belongings, confiscate his tablet, and then sit around with the principal interrogating the kid. When he was first pulled out of class to meet the officers, one whom the teen did not recognize leaned back in his chair and said: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” The principal threatened to expel him if he did not make a written statement.
“They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” Ahmed said.
“I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”
“He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.’”
OH NOEZ NOT A MOVIE BOMB!!!11!!!!!
Ahmed’s clock was decorated with a hologram tiger image on the front, which to me suggests a movie time machine, not a movie bomb, but what do I know? I am not a professional law enforcement officer trained to spot movie bombs (but not clocks).
Choking back tears, Ahmed was hauled through the hallways in handcuffs to shocked looks and gasps from other students and his guidance counselor. He was taken to a juvenile detention facility for processing: mug shots, finger prints, the whole deal—plus another round of interrogation by police, again with neither his parents nor a lawyer present. The ordeal ended when his parents arrived to pick him up.
Police have admitted they did not alert the bomb squad because, just like the teachers and school administrators, no one ever actually suspected Ahmed’s clock was a bomb. They arrested him because, they say, “he could offer no ‘broader explanation’ for his clock besides describing it as a device that measures time.”
I have to admit they’ve got me there. I am sitting here scratching my head, trying to come up with a broader explanation for a clock besides, you know, a device that measures time. But try as I might, I cannot for the life of me conceive of any other explanation. Any Ph.D. physicists among my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ who would care to enlighten me? Because apparently the Irving Texas police department understands something about a broader explanation for clocks that I…I just don’t get. :(
So then the flaming asshole principal sent a self-righteous ass-covering letter to district parents, posing as the Great and True American Hero™ of this colossal farce:
In Irving ISD and at MacArthur High School, your child’s safety and well-being is always our top priority [unless your child is named Ahmed Mohamed, obviously] and we want to maintain open, honest and timely communication with you [and/or lie to you to cover up our comical negligence and overt racism and bigotry]. If there was ever an imminent threat to your child [again, unless your child is named Ahmed Mohamed], we would take immediate and necessary precautions [except for evacuating during a bomb scare], and we would inform you immediately. [Or maybe not: we might call the police instead, and then we’ll all sit around interrogating, searching and bullying your child.]
Irving Police Department responded to a suspicious-looking
item[person] on campus yesterday. We are pleased to report that after the police department’s assessment the item[person] discovered at school did not pose a threat to your child’s safety [except if your child is named Ahmed Mohamed—then of course all bets are off].
Our school is cooperating fully with the ongoing police investigation [!!!?], and we are handling the situation in accordance with the Irving ISD Student Code of Conduct and applicable laws [which CLEARLY prohibit all clocks, watches and any other devices by which students might discover the time of day]. Please rest assured that we will always take necessary steps to keep our school as safe as possible [for those students who are not named Ahmed Mohamed. In case that wasn’t clear].
If the principal were not a case study in Conservative Personality Disorder, the letter might have read something more like this one, at the blog Without Bullshit:
I need to run a school in a town with a community of Muslims and a few Muslim-haters, too. Please stop thanking me and the police chief for our vigilance. I know this looks bad. In the future, I’ll try to hassle students of all races and religions equally.
Have a conversation with your kids about making friends with people who are different from themselves. That’s the best way to make sure we all know what’s going on, and can tell a boy with a clock from one with an assault rifle.
Sincere but stressed, your principal
Yeah. And maybe include in that conversation with your kids the fact that “over the last three decades, 90 percent of high school or elementary school shootings were the result of White, often upper-middle class, perpetrators.” Which reminds me of this:
The upside for Ahmed is that the Twitterverse rose mightily to the occasion: he now has a personal invitation from our American Muslim child murdering president to bring his clock to the White House, an invitation from Mark Zuckerberg to meet with him at Facebook, and invitations from MIT and Harvard to tour their physics labs. An anonymous donor has paid for a scholarship for Ahmed to attend Space Camp. YAY.
Meanwhile, here is a story about another 14-year old boy, who built a fucking nuclear reactor in the lab at his school. Not a clock, mind you, and not a movie bomb (or even a movie nuclear reactor). No. AN ACTUAL NUCLEAR FUSION REACTOR. Not surprisingly, officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy took a keen interest, which is why his belongings were confiscated and he was arrested, searched and interrogated multiple times, without his parents or a lawyer present.
I’m just kidding. DHS and DoE offered that kid technical assistance, equipment and an invitation to submit a grant proposal. The kid paraded around with his fusion reactor at a bunch of science fairs to much acclaim, and won over $100,000 in prizes, a trip to Switzerland and a tour of the Large Hadron Collider.
Care to guess what color his skin was? Go ahead, guess. I’ll give you a hint: his name is Taylor Wilson.
Via Gawker, here are seven clock-building students not named Ahmed Mohamed “who got off scot-free for the heinous crime of DIY timekeeping, plus a bonus kid who brought an actual inert bomb to school.” He wasn’t even suspended.
Anyway, I fucking love this Ahmed Mohamed kid.
Fortunately, Ahmed has no plans to return to his shitty high school. “I’m thinking about transferring from MacArthur to any other school,” he says. Good thinking there, Ahmed. Perhaps you might consider transferring to any other country. I highly recommend Costa Rica! :D
Ahmed Mohamed embodies everything that used to be great about this country: education, innovation, opportunity, ambition, optimism, freedom. Now, he represents what we have become: a fascist, racist police state.
Welcome to post-racial ‘Murikkka, people. Nothing to see here.
Have a nice day.