What about young Muslim males Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev bringing a set of pressure cookers in backpacks to a marathon? They did, and the results were devastating. What if nobody had said anything when young Muslim male Richard Colvin Reid tried to light his shoe on fire during a flight? What if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who wore explosive underwear on an airplane, had just been ignored by fellow passengers?

In 2002, the “See something, say something” campaign was created, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The Department of Homeland Security’s website has an entire section dedicated to encouraging citizens to be aware of their surroundings and to report anything they may think isn’t quite right. 

“‘If You See Something, Say Something™’ is a national campaign that raises public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement,” the DHS website states. “We can all help keep our communities safe by paying attention to our surroundings and reporting suspicious activity to local law enforcement.” Reminders to report suspicious activity can be found in the form of videos, posters, handouts and more all over the country.

The Texas teacher who took extra caution with the clock that looked like a bomb was correct in erring on the side of vigilance. In the age of lone wolf terrorism, doing the opposite would have been irresponsible.