The Case of Ahmed Mohamed: Keeping Perspective

AhmedLet’s acknowledge the obvious. Ahmed Mohamed shouldn’t have been arrested. But was racism in play? Highly doubtful.

School officials overreact to phantom-weapon threats all the time. The Caucasian seven-year old who was suspended last year for (yes, seriously) chewing his food into the shape of a gun wasn’t a Muslim. If he had been, you can be sure everyone would have cried bigotry. But in the case of Ahmed Mohamed, his clock does look like it could be a real bomb, and the appropriate measure in such a case is to err on the side of caution. When the kid was questioned by his teachers about the device, he apparently wasn’t forthcoming. He may have just been naturally shy and nervous, or he may have had a passive-aggressive attitude. The point is, school officials don’t dismiss strange devices that alarm people, and nor should they. (The Caucasian kid who was suspended for chewing his food into the shape of a gun, on the other hand — that should have been completely ignored.)

There is also the question of whether or not the incident was staged. ArtVoice argues for a hoax, that Ahmed didn’t invent or build a clock, but rather took apart an existing clock, transplanted the guts into a pencil box, and claimed it was his own creation. Given that Ahmed’s father is known for debating Islamophobia publicly, and that Ahmed has been bullied himself, he/they may have wanted to precipitate a certain reaction. If that’s true, they sure as hell got it. I’m not saying this was a hoax (I’m simply not sure), but those who claim it is aren’t conspiracy theorists.

Watch Bill Maher’s panel discussion. And Bill is right: if you want to wax wroth over the mistreatment of a teen Muslim, try Ali Mohammed al-Nimr. He’s slated for crucifixion and beheading in Saudi Arabia. By all means let’s fight the real race battles on our own turf. But let’s also keep a fucking perspective. The amount of attention Ahmed Mohamed has received is off-the-scales absurd when the likes of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr receive so less by comparison.

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3 thoughts on “The Case of Ahmed Mohamed: Keeping Perspective

  1. Good post- I also think Bill Maher has a reasonable perspective. However it’s misleading to think that Ahmed’s arrest was out of concern that he had a real bomb. The school knew he didn’t have a bomb when they called the police. His clock doesn’t actually look like a bomb, it looks like its supposed to look like a bomb. (It looks like a 007 movie bomb) There is nothing inside that bomb that looks like an explosive. It only contains electronics and wiring. There was no evacuation and no bomb squad. They only spent hours interviewing him to determine whether or not he intentionally brought a FAKE bomb to school as a prank/a political statement/cry for attention/means to scare people. There was never any concern that he was actually attempting to attack the school with an explosive. No concern whatsoever.
    And you know what? If he did intentionally bring a fake bomb to school, then he SHOULD have been arrested. We don’t know for a fact that he didn’t. But until this case sees a court of law (and it probably will), we should be willing to give him benefit of the doubt.
    It’s also worth noting that the vast, vast majority of attacks against schools by their students have been perpetrated by young white male students with some nihilistic grievance against modern society. A few exceptions have been East Asian- but they have all been secular nihilists! Has any Muslim student in the Western world ever attacked his own school in recent decades? For that matter, has any religious person in the West attacked ever attacked a school? I can’t recall even one. It seems bizarre that no one in the media has pointed out this obvious fact. It simultaneously undermines both the claim that he was being profiled and Maher’s claim that recent Muslim actions should make him more suspect than a typical white secular student.
    I’m a white atheist. So if I were in high school, I would be the type of student that the school should profile as a potential threat. (It’s sad that we live in a world where schools must look at their students in this way). That’s not to say that schools should completely discount the possibility of a female student or a Muslim student bringing a bomb to school- there’s a first time for everything- but let’s be honest about the expected profile of a school shooter/bomber.
    And as an aside, this kid (though not dumb) isn’t any kind of genius. He made a digital clock from step-by-step instructions on the internet. He may have even intentionally made it look like a bomb, but it still wasn’t a novel electronic design. Good grief people let’s not give him a Nobel prize.
    But Maher is spot-on that this is a waste of time and we should be more concerned with what is going on in Saudi Arabia.

  2. And you know what? If he did intentionally bring a fake bomb to school, then he SHOULD have been arrested.

    If he intentionally planned it, there’s a part of me that actually applauds him. If he and his father were shrewd enough to fool a nation and make everyone cry foul (racism), then you can’t help admire the stunt to a certain degree. That’s my inner prankster talking, I guess.

  3. Unless it backfires…

    I just read that ArtVoice article. People are now bidding up the prices on Micronta 63-765A clocks on Ebay. As soon as somebody cracks one of those things open we will definitively know whether or not Ahmed is a fake.

    If they find out his clock wasn’t even a project from a kit, they ought to send him back to juvie.

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