When Ahmed first got into trouble for bringing his “clock” to school, Obama Tweeted his approval (“Cool clock, Ahmed”) and invited him to bring it to the White House. Since then, the official line – precocious all-American teen’s enthusiasm and ingenuity stymied by ingrained Islamophobia – has taken a bit of a hit. Ahmed can’t make a clock. All he can do is rip the guts out of some crappy Radio Shack thing from the Seventies, and tape it into a simulacrum of a suitcase bomb, which is not a skill to be disdained, at least in some parts of the world.
However, it’s not really the talent all the hipster execs had in mind when, in the wake of the presidential Tweet, they invited Ahmed to visit the headquarters of Google, Facebook et al. The private sector apparently still has enough sense of self-preservation that the glamorous job offers and grants quietly faded away. And even the Oval Office had supposedly downgraded Ahmed’s audience with Obama to part of the crowd scene on White House “Astronomy Night”. But no: young Ahmed worked his way to the front of the line and was rewarded with a hug from the President.
The greatest clockmaker of our time explained that he’d been unable to bring his clock to Obama because he’s been “too busy traveling”, and it’s kinda bulky, being the size not of a clock but a bomb, and evidently President Bashir’s security in Khartoum being pickier about large ticking devices than the White House. But he’s certainly “busy traveling”: The quintessential Texas teenager and his family have accepted an offer to move to Qatar.
Nonetheless, like Niqab Girl, Clock Boy has taught us all a valuable lesson with his droll and spectacularly successful provocation. The US Department of Homeland Security’s slogan is “If You See Something, Say Something” – unless it’s something that might get you accused of Islamophobia, in which case keep it to yourself.