In Texas a young man, 14 years old, makes a simple digital clock which he brings to school to show to one of his STEM teachers. During English class, the clock makes a sound and the English teacher confiscates the clock. By the end of the day, the boy is taken out of another class by the school principal and a police officer and led to a room with 4 additional officers. He is arrested, handcuffed, and questioned without being allowed to contact his parents, another adult or legal counsel. The young man’s name is Ahmed Mohamed, and his father came to the United States from Sudan approximately 30 years ago.
In today’s world we unfortunately need to take precautions and at times presume the worst even if the worst is statistically improbable. A package, bag, or practically any object seemingly lost may in fact be a bomb or contain some other type of threat. More often than not and thankfully in the United States, the response ultimately becomes what we commonly call a false alarm. It’s harmless, but a scary reality is that had safety measures had not been followed for a specific event that single event might be the one involving a real danger and our failure to acknowledge would result in tragedy.
Young Mr. Mohamed, however, did not leave his device unattended. According to the news reports he stated that the device was a clock, but perhaps more importantly willingly surrendered the device to his English teacher. Now if the English teacher suspected that the device was dangerous, shouldn’t the detaining of Mr. Mohamed happen immediately? If any chance existed that his clock was an explosive device one would think that people would have evacuated the school. Wouldn’t that be the prudent reaction?
Apparently no fear existed with this teacher or any other adults at the school to warrant immediate actions. It was at some point later in the school day and most likely following the changing of periods and classes that the principal and police officer escorted the 14 year old student from a classroom.
It seems that Texas law has provisions about “hoax bombs.” Perhaps young Mr. Mohamed stated that his device was a clock to be deceptive. If so the young man needs to concentrate upon his thinking, “tinkering,” and building and not constructing a ruse because obviously this alleged “hoax bomb” could not convince any teachers or administration at the school that they faced a legitimate bomb threat.
I’m not judging law enforcement here because I was not there. Yes, I am assuming that the teachers and other school personnel did not believe the device to be a bomb because nobody took action as if an immediate danger existed.
Others can address any “mountains out of molehills” thoughts, but that isn’t my intent.
What if Ahmed Mohamed was named John Smith? What if he had white skin instead of brown? What if he were Roman Catholic, a member of First Baptist, First Methodist, Main Street Church of Christ, or anything that might lead people to believe that his faith was Christian?
I’m not attempting to answer those “what ifs” because I think every incident is unique unto itself. Yes it is true that Caucasian students, students who follow the Christian faith and others have faced similar situations that young Mr. Mohamed found himself. One may argue that this issue is about “zero tolerance” or anything else other than racism, discrimination, and so on.
How or Why does that justify what happened to this student or anyone for that matter?
That’s a problem planted deeper than discrimination or favoritism whether real or perceived. Seriously when we rationalize discrimination or any type of mistreatment depending upon some stereotype what does that say about us? Is any answer positive?
I find nothing wrong with President Obama extending an invitation to Ahmed Mohamed. I wish that the President could extend invites to every student wrongfully accused, but sadly too many people have been wrongfully accused.
I’m glad that President Obama has spoken with some of the spouses of law enforcement officers who have been murdered. I’m glad that President Obama has spoken with some loved ones of other individuals who have been murdered. Again I wish that all could be recognized, but sadly the numbers of those who grieve are too high.
What bothers me are those who downplay what young Mr. Mohamed went through. The young man does not deserve criticism. As time passes, I hope that he just moves forward with his education, career, and life goals just as if this event never happened. I do hope, however, that he remembers the experience and that he and others are able to limit the possibility of others having the same experience.
This matter should not be political. Those attempting to make it such; those displaying what I guess is envy or jealously about the recognition Ahmed Mohamed is now receiving need to step back and realize they would likely feel otherwise if the shoe was on the other foot.
That’s a problem because everyone, regardless of stereotype or individuality has ownership of that problem, and regardless of where we stand it affects us, humanity.
We do have phobias in this country. Islam, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jew, Black, White, Brown, Red, Yellow, Law Enforcement, Military, Civilian, Man, Woman, you name it and an extreme and irrational fear exists. It might be impossible to prevent fears, but perhaps we might educate ourselves and spend time with different individuals instead of relying upon stereotypes or other generic groupings.
Haroon Moghul has a good explanation of why we need legitimate sources of information at the link below.
They were different than we until we were they, they were we, and we and they became us, humanity.