When a boy takes the homemade clock he built to school to impress his science teacher, you the English teacher, with no background in science, minimal understanding of advanced scientific complexities A-panic, B-mobilize school threat assessment. Then school threat assessment, despite the protestations of said science teacher, the leading person on scene to know, slaps boy in handcuffs. Less because the box of circuits and wires doesn’t look like any clock most have ever seen, rather carrying an eerie resemblance to something we’ve seen all too much, explosives, a bomb, and more because his name is Ahmed Mohamed and he’s Muslim. Wrapping this trifecta into a bow you violate the law by telling the 14 year old while he is being interrogated sans legal guardian or legal representation he is not allowed to contact his parents though he is well under age. Way to go Texas, way to prove every negative stereotype that has ever been presumed about you. Keep in mind this is the same Texas whose school board voted 5 years ago to drastically change history text books calling imperialism expansionism, capitalism free enterprise and the biggie, the slave trade transatlantic trade. Even worse, because the state is the largest buyer of texts, the changes went nationwide. Which today, slightly over a month after Ahmed’s story, has led to student and parent protest about eye popping wording found in said textbooks; referring to African Americans, part of the transatlantic (slave) trade, as workers. A huge misnomer considering the kidnapping, forced labor, intolerable conditions treating African people like less than animals, sparking change to the books back to something close to the original definition.
Returning to Ahmed’s saga, adding insult to injury, you suspend him for 3 days on the school administration charge of making a hoax bomb when already established it wasn’t a bomb, wasn’t a threat, wasn’t even close to a facsimile of one. Next you make the family, of the kid seen in an interview with another circuit board and set of wires this time for a media player, hire a lawyer to retrieve his property. Further, force them to pull him, justifiably out of that school, and home school him while attempting to find better educational opportunities for their child who loves electronics, who wants to go to MIT. Really, question, would you have done the same thing if he had entered it into the school science fair or if it had been good enough to go to a district fair; would the whole thing have been interrupted by the same low brow, lame-brained idiocy? Long term, what happens when you discourage, devalue the kid’s engineering skills, want to work with computers, obvious capability with electronics; short answer, we lose valuable skills already in short supply. Keep arresting him, harassing him, calling him something he is not and denigrating his faith, his heritage, his culture, when he has done nothing to warrant it, and I’m sure he’ll be happy to go build the same items and far more dangerous one for terrorists; won’t you be proud? Fortunately greater minds see it differently; Ahmed Mohamed pleasantly surprised by the support he has gotten across the nation, around the globe thinking he would receive little backing because he is indeed Muslim, all too well aware of current politics at least here. The commander-in-chief tweeting an invitation to the young man for him, and his clock, to come to the Whitehouse, Twitter wanting him to intern, Google inviting him to their science fair, gleeful pictures of the opportunities opened up to him by a hand full of small minded people’s mistakes. Just this week he got his meeting with President Obama.
Unfortunately, the damage seems to have already been done; MIT, Google, Twitter and America have lost another great young mind. Family announcing they would be moving to Qatar where Ahmed has been accepted to a program for gifted engineering type students. We can hear the choruses now, you know the ones calling what Ahmed did a dry run for the real thing, some future terror attack, a hoax to get attention, appear persecuted if not to create explosives, test responses. Ones alleging not only did he not create, build the clock merely take the guts out of a standard store-bought one and shove them into a case, the ones stating he has a sister who was arrested for the same thing, mockingly shouting to all his supposedly gullible supports, and look at where he’s going, a middle eastern country. Ironically the same ones energized and influenced by Donald Trump, who think the worse threat to America is young illegal immigrant talent; when will we stop letting such close-mindedness export our best resource, people, human ingenuity and innovation? As for where Ahmed’s family has decided to go, how easily we forget our legal system ran off one of America’s golden boys, one of its best and greatest success stories when Michael Jackson announced in a 1995 interview he no longer wished to stay in America anymore. A legal system that would exonerate him of any wrong doing when yet another extortionist tried what hadn’t worked 12 years before, accusing him of a heinous crime against a child no jury bought.