Ahmed Mohamed’s homemade alarm clock got him suspended from his suburban Dallas high school and detained and handcuffed by police officers on Monday after school officials accused him of making a fake bomb. By Wednesday, it had brought him an invitation to the White House, support from Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg, and a moment of head-spinning attention as questions arose whether he had been targeted because of his name and his religion.
As a result, a 14-year-old freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Tex., who is partial to tinkering, technology and NASA T-shirts and wants to go to M.I.T., found himself in a social media whirlwind that reflected the nation’s charged debates on Islam, immigration and ethnicity…
“This episode is a good illustration of how pernicious stereotypes can prevent even good-hearted people who have dedicated their lives to educating young people from doing the good work that they set out to do,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary.
In an interview late Wednesday with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Ahmed said he was pulled out of class at MacArthur High School by his principal and five police officers and taken to a room where he was questioned for about an hour and a half.
He said he asked the adults if he could call his parents.
“They told me ‘No, you can’t call your parents,'” Ahmed said. “‘You’re in the middle of an interrogation at the moment.’ They asked me a couple of times, ‘Is it a bomb?’ and I answered a couple of times, ‘It’s a clock.'”
“I felt like I was a criminal,” the teenager said. “I felt like I was a terrorist. I felt like all the names I was called.”
Hayes asked what he meant.
In middle school, Ahmed said, he had been called “bombmaker” and a “terrorist.”
On Monday, 14-year-old Mohamed was arrested for taking a homemade clock to school that his teachers thought was a bomb. So crowdfunding platform LaunchGood started a campaign to raise $100,000 for the Muslim teen.
In just one day, the site had raised over $10,000 from more than 200 backers. It’s hoping to raise $100,000 by October 13…
In addition to LaunchGood, crowdfunding platform Gofundme has also launched a campaign for Mohamed. It’s raised more than $4,000 with a goal of $60,000 that will go toward Mohamed’s future college tuition.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) believes 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed should not have been arrested for bringing a clock that authorities thought was a bomb to school.
“The last thing we want to do is put handcuffs on a kid unjustifiably,” Abbott said Thursday, according to The Dallas Morning News. “Just call this a tragic situation. It looks like the commitment to law enforcement may have gone too far and didn’t balance all the facts.”…
Ahmed and his supporters also suspected that he was targeted because of his name and skin color. He said that after he was pulled out of class and escorted into a room where four police officers were waiting, one of the men — whom he had never seen before — said, “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”
Obama has raised the notion, at the United Nations, among other places, that the U.S. is not at war with Islam. These are welcome sentiments. After Ahmed Mohamed’s clock ordeal, President Obama tweeted, “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House?” The invitation is a nice gesture—Mohamed accepted—but it does not go far enough. George W. Bush remains the only sitting American president to have visited an American mosque; despite the pleas of leaders from the American Muslim community, Obama hasn’t ventured into a Muslim house of worship in the U.S. since assuming office. This is the perfect opportunity.
Obama should announce that, in addition to inviting Mohamed to Washington—who would deny the kid a chance to attend NASA’s Astronomy Night at the White House?—he’s taking a trip to Texas to visit the family’s mosque. In Irving, on Mayor Beth Van Duyne’s home turf, this would send a powerful message. It would have the benefit of coming in the wake of an incident of anti-Muslim bigotry, rather than an incident of Muslim terrorism. After Mohamed’s arrest, the Twitter hashtag #IStandWithAhmed began to trend, before going completely viral. This would be the real way to stand with Ahmed: in his home, in his place of worship. And the president should use the occasion to speak frankly on anti-Muslim bigotry. The message isn’t, for once, “We are not at war with Islam”; rather, Obama should declare, We are at war with anti-Muslim bigots. It is past time to name names: Obama should call out the GOP candidates, Frank Gaffney, and the rest of America’s most influential Islam-haters…
None of this will end anti-Muslim bias in America—like other pervasive bigotries, it will likely remain strong for some time. But now, with the positive story of a talented boy and his engineering hobby, is an ideal time to launch this fight in earnest. Obama can finally stop hiding from the conspiracy theorists and visit a mosque to celebrate this young man, Ahmed Mohamed. He should call out Mohamed’s haters by name—from the elected officials that represent him and have failed him, like Van Duyne and Cruz, to the mega-donors and political structures that encouraged them in this dereliction of duty. Ahmed Mohamed’s clock has announced that it is time. We should all wake up.
I turned to eBay, searching for vintage alarm clocks. It only took a minute to locate Ahmed’s clock. See this eBay listing, up at the time of this writing. Amhed’s clock was invented, and built, by Micronta, a Radio Shack subsidary. Catalog number 63 756…
Ahmed Mohamad did not invent, nor build a clock. He took apart an existing clock, and transplanted the guts into a pencil box, and claimed it was his own creation. It all seems really fishy to me…
If we stop and think – was it really such a ridiculous reaction from the teacher and the police in the first place? How many school shootings and incidents of violence have we had, where we hear afterwards “this could have been prevented, if only we paid more attention to the signs!” Teachers are taught to be suspicious and vigilant. Ahmed wasn’t accused of making a bomb – he was accused of making a look-alike, a hoax. And be honest with yourself, a big red digital display with a bunch of loose wires in a brief-case looking box is awful like a Hollywood-style representation of a bomb…
I think the whole event – and our collective response, with everybody up to the President chiming in, says a whole lot about us. We don’t care that none of us were there and knows what happened, we jump to conclusions and assume we’re experts. We care about the story, but we don’t care about the actual facts. Headlines and click-bait are far more interesting than thinking for ourselves. We like to point out other any bit of perceived injustice or discrimination we can find – it’s practically a new national past-time. We like playing victim, and we like talking about victims – so much so we sometimes find victims where none really existed. We also like to find somebody to blame, even when there’s nobody at fault. We like to play social justice warrior on our Facebooks and Twitters, posting memes and headlines without digging in behind the sensationalism, winning bonus sensitivity points in the forms of likes and re-tweets. Once group-think kicks in, we rally around hash tags and start shouting moral outrage in a deafeningly loud national chorus. The media plays us like a fiddle, and we don’t even notice we’ve all been had.
Cuban said, “I talked to the kid, he’s from Dallas, and I’ve talked to the people in the school district. The kid is super smart kid, science geek. We talked about science, but while I’m talking to him on the phone, as I ask him a question, ‘Tell me what happened,’ because I’m curious, right? His sister, over his shoulder, you could hear, listening to the question, giving him the answer. So, I don’t know all the details of what happened, but what I do know, when I talked to him about science, when I talked to him about magnets, when I talked to him about creating things, he was very, very engaged.”
Cuban added that Mohamed is a “great kid,” and “this is once removed, right? So I talked to the people in Irving, Texas, that work with people at MacArthur, the school. And I said, ‘What happened? What did you hear?’ This is, again, secondhand. He said, the kid, Ahmed, took the clock, put it in the first class. Teacher said, ‘Great. Looks great. It looks great.’ Kid picks it up, takes it to the second class. Teacher said, ‘Okay, whatever. It’s great. It’s great.’ Ahmed didn’t really comment, from what I heard. Takes it to the third class, same thing. Then he got to a point, again, secondhand, where one of the teachers, an English teacher, apparently, said, ‘Look, you’ve got to put it in your backpack, because it’s going to make some people nervous, and it’s making me nervous.’ And again, secondhand, he didn’t — he wasn’t responsive to it at all. And so, it took six classes before anything happened.”
So why, after the detention and release, did this story become a national one? Why did Obama jump on this story? Why did Hillary jump on this story? Where were they for then-16-year-old Kiera Wilmot of Florida to the White House after she was arrested and suspended in 2013 for bringing an experiment with toilet cleaner and aluminum foil to school? She was black but not Muslim, so it didn’t serve the narrative. They were MIA.
For years, the Obama administration has pushed the notion that American Muslims are in danger of Islamophobic backlash. But as of 2012, 62.4 percent of all anti-religious hate crimes targeted Jews; 11.6 percent targeted Muslims; as of 2013, anti-Jewish hate crimes represented 60.3 percent of all hate crimes, as opposed to just 13.7 percent for Muslims. That’s a major decline in anti-Islamic hate crimes since 2001, when 55.7 percent of hate crimes were anti-Jewish, and anti-Muslim hate crimes constituted 27.2 percent of all hate crimes.
So where, exactly, are all the invitations to Jewish students targeted in hate crime incidents?
They don’t exist, because they don’t help President Obama castigate America as xenophobic and backwards – and just as importantly, castigate Texans as particularly likely to don white hoods and go hunt down some Sufis.
Mohamed’s father says that his son was mistreated because the incident happened a few days after the annual commemoration of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, and because his name is Mohamed. The story immediately became ubiquitous not because of what actually happened — boneheaded as that was — but because it can be used to further a story that the media already want to tell: that the United States is morally corrupt and irredeemably racist; that Muslims are under siege; that “white privilege” blinds the majority of Americans to the corruption at the heart of everything red, white, and blue. Muslim kid meets paranoia in Texas is A-1 copy; NRA-wearing kid meets paranoia in West Virginia, not so much.
President Barack Obama, never one to miss an opportunity for cheap moral preening, invited Mohamed to the White House. That’s an interesting gesture: Anybody want to hazard a guess as to what would happen if a young man showed up at the White House visitors’ center with a backpack in which was a homemade device full of circuit boards joined to a timing device? I do not frequent the White House, but I often am in the House and Senate office buildings in Washington, and my best guess is that if I’d tried to bring Mohamed’s clock into one of those places, there would have been guns drawn…
Ahmed Mohamed was mistreated by imbeciles, and he’ll be famous for it, for 15 Warholian minutes, and then again for a 30-second spot when he graduates in a few years and goes off to MIT or wherever. The fact is that he is not worse off because his name is Mohamed, but better off: Nobody would be paying attention otherwise, and he might very well be in jail. Being mistreated by imbeciles is the sine qua non of American public education today, but that fact is of political use only periodically, as in this case.