La La How The Life Goes On

Inventing While Brown

Posted on: September 17, 2015

By now you have no doubt heard the story of Ahmed, the 9th grader from Irving, Texas who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. I have been in full lather all day about this disgusting injustice. Consider if you will:

  1. The child created this clock on his own and was so proud of it he brought it to school to show his engineering teacher.
  2. When another teacher saw it, she apparently thought it looked like a bomb and alerted the principal.
  3. The principal then involved law enforcement.
  4. Law enforcement questioned this minor without his parents present and while refusing the child’s requests to have his parents called.
  5. Law enforcement and the school administration found the child’s answers that it was “just a clock” to be “passive aggressive.” They found his inability to explain why he would build a clock “for no reason” to be suspicious.
  6. Law enforcement then handcuffed this 9th grader and perp-walked him to juvenile detention, all still without contacting his parents.
  7. Afterward, instead of apologizing for the clear violation of this child’s civil rights and the obvious racism and Islamophobia that precipitated it, the school doubled down by sending a letter home advising kids not to bring “suspicious” items from home. You know, like a fucking CLOCK.
  8. The police involved also decided to shoot the moon by justifying the arrest in two mutually exclusive ways:
    1. We arrested him because he kept saying, “It’s just a clock.” That’s suspicious.
    2. We arrested him because he perpetrated a bomb hoax.

So which is it? Did he create a bomb hoax or did he keep saying “it’s just a clock”? Because it can’t be both, right? But, wait. This is Texas. So OF COURSE IT CAN. You see, a “bomb hoax,” according to the police chief who spoke to reporters, is defined as any item that gives the impression that it might be a bomb. So, if you walk into a restaurant in Texas with your umbrella and someone jumps up and yells. “OH MY GOD IT”S A BOMB!” at you, you can apparently be arrested for perpetrating a bomb hoax simply because someone thought your umbrella was a bomb. You apparently don’t need to act like it’s a bomb, discuss how it’s a bomb, or even have considered for a single second that some random moron is going to think your umbrella is a bomb to be arrested for perpetrating a bomb hoax in Texas.

Also, if your name is Ahmed Mohamed.

The level of dumbassery and racism and hillbilly nonsense involved in this story is absolutely staggering. The vitriol from the rightosphere on Twitter and Facebook is shocking but not at all surprising. This family has lived in Texas for 30 years. This child was born here. This family is American. They are as American as you and me. They have worked hard, paid taxes, obviously raised smart and decent children. What more do we want from them so they can be considered equal to us? So they can make a science fair project and not be suspected of wanting to kill people?

It would all be deeply, unrelentingly depressing if not the for the response of many of Ahmed’s fellow Americans to this shameful situation. Most notably from the President of the United States, in what will go down in history as the most presidential and deft “FUCK YOU, RACISTS” in American history.

Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.


None of which, sadly, mitigates the truly unbelievable quantities of FAIL that occurred at every level of this entire sorry circumstance. This town, so steeped in Islamophobia (the mayor ran–and WON–on an anti-sharia law platform) that a child widely known as sweet and nerdy and lovely and smart is immediately and irredeemably accused of wanting to KILL PEOPLE. By a teacher who KNEW HIM. This woman knew this child and still her mind went directly from “science experiment” to “terrorist.”  That is some shameful shit.

The fact that an English teacher felt sure enough that she was looking at a bomb “from a movie.” Yes. This was her statement. It looked like a bomb from a movie. Oh, that kind. The kind with no explosives attached, right? The kind that a kid would bring to school and SHOW PEOPLE. Because, you know, when you want to kill people you definitely want to alert your teachers first. As they do ‘in a movie.” That is some shameful, uneducated shit.

The fact that the police went along with the obviously not-competent school principal. I know that police get stupid calls all the time. There’s a black guy on my street. There’s a voice in my head. There’s a long line at the Walgreens. The police do the honorable and smart thing and ignore these fools. But because this town is living on the existential edge about the Great Mohammedan Peril, there are no sane adults in the room to say “Move along. Nothing to see here.”  That’s the tragedy here. This was not a law enforcement issue. Until it was. This is the exceedingly important role our LEOs play in our society. Beyond enforcing the law, they can help ordinary citizens determine what is and is not a law enforcement issue to begin with. Neighbor dispute? Work that shit out. Strange dog crapping in your yard? Sorry, but that’s not our gig. Kid made a clock for his teacher who can easily be asked if it is indeed a clock? Thanks for calling. Everything here looks in order. We’re off to write up this idiotic report. That is some shameful, unnecessary shit.

The fact that Texas is an open-carry state. Meaning that you can saunter through and around Texas with a gun on you. Out. Visible. Accessible. Loaded. And yet you bring a CLOCK to school and that is grounds for arrest? On what planet does this make any sense at all? After all, clocks don’t kill people, people kill people. Right? That is some shameful, hypocritical shit.

It’s all shameful. Every last person involved needs to ruthlessly examine their conscience, their intellect and their heart. And then they need to apologize to this 14 year old child for their sins against him. The final chapter of this story has not yet been written, but Ahmed Mohamed’s response to the events speaks volumes. When asked by the New York Times what he’d advise other “young gadget builders”:

“Go for it,” he said. “Don’t let people change who you are.”

Spoken like a true American.


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