Thursday, September 24, 2015

Seeing Bigots Under Every Bed

Last week in Irving, Texas a 14 year-old Muslim student named Ahmed Mohammed was questioned by school authorities and placed in handcuffs by the police for bringing to school a device he claimed was an electronic clock he had invented. The reaction by the school and the police, we were assured by the media and multi alia (for example Kevin Drum at Mother Jones), is proof that America is a bigoted, racist nation. Except that as is so often the case when the media pontificates on the moral failings of Americans, the story is much more complex than they let on.

Kyle Smith at The New York Post gives us some perspective:
By now you’ve heard the story of Ahmed Mohamed, crowned by the Daily Beast “The Muslim Hero America Has Been Waiting For” after the 14-year-old brought to school a beeping, strange-looking homemade concealed device that turned out to be a clock.

School officials, thinking, as 95% of Americans would, that it kinda looked like a bomb, hauled him out of class. Police put him in handcuffs and, even after the confusion passed, the boy was suspended from school.

That earned Mohamed a planned trip to the White House, a message of support from Hillary Clinton, an offer to stop by Facebook to meet Mark Zuckerberg and an invitation to be an intern at Twitter.

The police overreacted. Yet the device did look like something Ethan Hunt would lob out of a helicopter at the last minute in “Mission: Impossible.” As National Review’s Charles Cooke pointed out on Twitter, the scary-looking tangle of wires “looks a lot more like a bomb than a pop tart looks like a gun.”

Josh Welch, a white Maryland kid with ADHD who was 7 years old when he was kicked out of school for chewing a Pop-Tart into the shape of a pistol and pretending to shoot other students with it, must be puzzled.

Where’s his White House invitation? Where’s his chance to start networking at Facebook? His parents were forced to hire a lawyer and spent a year and a half just trying to get the suspension erased from the kid’s record. They were repeatedly refused.

“I stand with Ahmed, too. But I also stand with Alex Stone,” noted Reason writer Robby Soave. Alex Stone, a 16-year-old white kid from Summerville, SC, wrote a short story in which he imagined using a gun to kill a dinosaur. For this his locker was searched and he was arrested, handcuffed, charged with “disorderly conduct” and suspended from school for three days.

Obviously the White House and Mark Zuckerberg couldn’t be bothered to comment, but you’d think that, at the very least, Stephen King would have sent out a tweet expressing outrage that imagination was being punished.


In Dyer County, Tenn., Kendra Turner says she was suspended for saying, “Bless you” after a student sneezed, and that her teacher told her that she would have no “godly speaking in class.” A school administrator said, “This was not a religious issue at all, but more of an issue the teacher felt was a distraction in her class.” Uh-huh. School leadership offered no explanation for the photos posted by students that showed “bless you” on a list of expressions banned in the classroom. Turner is still waiting for her call from President Obama.

Are white kids being punished en masse for dopey quasi-infractions because of their race? Of course not. That’s ridiculous. But it’s equally absurd to suggest that you have to be Muslim, or brown-skinned, or live in Texas, to be subjected to overenthusiastic use of school discipline and police force.

“It never would have happened to a white kid”? It happens to white kids all. The. Time.
There's more at the link, but in what he has said above Smith has a point. How can this incident be powerful evidence of "Racist America" when much younger white kids have suffered much worse punishments for doing things far less serious? Of course, the people eager to see Ahmed as a symbol of racial or religious oppression have probably never had that question occur to them.

The media hyped the boy for his genius in "inventing" this clock but he actually did no such thing. The electronics were "out-of-the-box" stuff that could've been bought at Radio Shack. So what was the point of what the Ahmed did? Why did he do it? Who knows, but look at this from the standpoint of school authorities and imagine this hypothetical scenario:

A young Muslim brings to school something that looks to the untrained eye like an explosive. The school authorities, not wishing to appear to be picking on a Muslim student, accept his explanation that it's just a clock and tell him it's okay for him to bring it to school if he wishes. But this was a "dry run."

A few days later he brings the same device to school again. The authorities, having already given it a pass, say nothing and don't bother to check it. Only this time it's not a clock, it's a bomb. In the aftermath of the carnage wouldn't the families of the victims have wanted those school personnel to have been a little less concerned about the PC prudes in the media and a little more careful with the safety of their children?

"That would never happen," someone objects, but only someone who never reads the newspapers would be so naive as to think that in the world in which we live such a thing would never happen.

Putting young Ahmed in cuffs may have been unnecessary, but the prudence which lay behind it was not. Besides, if the slogan, "If you see something, say something" is to have any meaning at all then people who see something and do something should be given the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, benefit of the doubt is something the media only extends to people on the left.