This story has inspired its own hashtag: #IStandWithAhmed, because in this case, the teen is named Ahmed Mohamed, and that’s important, because I’m not so sure there would be a hashtag if his name was Alex Brownson, Jose Martinez, or John Chung. But hey, I’m just a racist.
Texas ninth-grader Ahmed Mohamed loves technology. His bedroom is filled with gadgets, soldering tools and equipment, because he loves to build new things, specifically technological things. Props, to this kid, not enough teens are building their own tech gear. But the story goes sideways when Ahmed builds a clock with a digital face, and its innards set inside a case. He brings it to school and everything blows up:
Ahmed’s clock was hardly his most elaborate creation. He said he threw it together in about 20 minutes before bedtime on Sunday: a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front.
He showed it to his engineering teacher first thing Monday morning and didn’t get quite the reaction he’d hoped for.
“He was like, ‘That’s really nice,’” Ahmed said. “‘I would advise you not to show any other teachers.’”
He kept the clock inside his school bag in English class, but the teacher complained when the alarm beeped in the middle of a lesson. Ahmed brought his invention up to show her afterward.
“She was like, it looks like a bomb,” he said.
Okay, pretend for a second that the kid wasn’t named ‘Ahmed Mohamed,’ but was instead Christopher Robin. You’re the school teacher. An alarm goes off in Christopher’s backpack. You ask to see what it is, because it’s disrupted the class. When Christopher brings the invention to the front of the class, and you see “a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display, all strapped inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front” what do you do? Seriously, what do you do? The clock Ahmed brought to school did not look like a traditional clock that everyone is tweeting about:
— Michele Boyd (@micheleboyd) September 16, 2015
— CAIR-Chicago (@cairchicago) September 16, 2015
— Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) September 16, 2015
Gawker jumped on the train too, posting this article but casually omitting pictures of the clocks other students made. The media, Ahmed’s father, and everyone on Twitter is saying this is Islamophobia. But…it’s a bit more than that. Schools these days aren’t exactly safe havens, and mass school violence is carried out by teen boys (usually white teen boys). Are we all on the same page here? Okay. So Ahmed is told by his engineering teacher not to show it to other teachers…because it looks like a bomb. There’s a video account of Ahmed below, and as he’s describing the invention, you have to admit, it kind of sounds like it looks like a bomb you’d see in a movie or an episode of 24. Watch it:
The school reacted in full force, acting like it was a bomb…because it looked like a bomb. Again, you’re the teacher, what do you do? Regardless of the race of the student, what do you do?
We know now it’s not a bomb. It is, in fact, a clock. The police, though, didn’t take any chances and here’s where this story explodes:
Police led Ahmed out of MacArthur about 3 p.m., his hands cuffed behind him and an officer on each arm. A few students gaped in the halls. He remembers the shocked expression of his student counselor — the one “who knows I’m a good boy.”
Ahmed was spared the inside of a cell. The police sent him out of the juvenile detention center to meet his parents shortly after taking his fingerprints.
Notice something missing? Ahmed’s parents come in at the end, after he’s been carted off, in handcuffs, to jail. Like a story we wrote about last week where a teen boy kissed a girl on a dare, the police were called for an assault charge. WTF? Sorry, but seriously, WTF? Look, police have their place in in the justice system, but I think we can all agree, once again, that parents should be with their kids when their kids are in trouble, whether for kissing a girl or bringing a clock-that-looks-like-a-bomb to school. Okay? Okay.
Also bear in mind that white boys are being disciplined in school for making paper that’s shaped like gun. So…
Lesson here? Don’t bring something that looks like a bomb to your school, whether you’re a buddhist, Christian, a Scientologist, or a Muslim. Don’t bring a clock that looks like a bomb to school if you’re a boy, a girl, or transgendered. Or if you’re black, white, hispanic, or middle eastern. This sounds like a massive misunderstanding, and Ahmed seems like an engineering prodigy with a bright future. He’ll probably make a crapton more money than everyone in his school. But again I ask, you’re the teacher, what would you have done knowing about all the past school threats?
Also, “Zero Tolerance” policies at public schools suck.
Is this all about Islamophobia, or would any teenager get flagged for bringing an item like this to school? Let us know in the comments below.
Update September 18, 2015: