Right-wing media are now blaming 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed for his own arrest after he brought a homemade clock to school, and accusing President Obama and others of capitalizing on the student's story to falsely push concerns about Islamophobia.
Ahmed Mohamed, 14, Was Arrested For Bringing A Homemade Clock To His School
Ahmed Was Arrested After His Clock Was Reported As A “Hoax Bomb.” On September 14, a 14-year-old Sudanese-American teenager from Irving, Texas, was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to his school. School officials reported the clock as a “hoax bomb,” and called the local police. Five police officers handcuffed the child and brought him to a juvenile detention center, where he was finger-printed and interrogated before being released to his parents. Two days later, the Irving Police Department announced that Ahmed was no longer facing criminal charges, but the boy continued to serve out a three-day suspension from school for the creation of a so-called “hoax bomb.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is currently investigating the incident. [The Dallas Morning News, 9/16/15;The Washington Post, 9/16/15]
After His Arrest, Ahmed Gained Support From Many Public Figures, Including President Obama. After the story of Ahmed's arrest was reported, it gained widespread public attention on social media. President Obama tweeted Ahmed an invitation to the White House, Hillary Clinton, Arne Duncan, and Mark Zuckerberg expressed their support, and Ahmed was offered an internship at Twitter. Well-wishers tweeted their support for Ahmed using the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed. A question about Ahmed's arrest was also featured at the earlier GOP debate on CNN Wednesday night. As the New York Times reported:
Ahmed Mohamed's homemade alarm clock got him suspended from his suburban Dallas high school and detained and handcuffed by police officers on Monday after school officials accused him of making a fake bomb. By Wednesday, it had brought him an invitation to the White House, support from Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg, and a moment of head-spinning attention as questions arose whether he had been targeted because of his name and his religion.
As a result, a 14-year-old freshman at MacArthur High School in Irving, Tex., who is partial to tinkering, technology and NASA T-shirts and wants to go to M.I.T., found himself in a social media whirlwind that reflected the nation's charged debates on Islam, immigration and ethnicity. [The New York Times, 9/17/15]
MIT And Harvard Offered Ahmed Tours Of Their Astrophysics Facilities. On the September 17 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, Ahmed was surprised during an interview about his arrest by astrophysicist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and extended an invitation to tour the astrophysics facilities at both MIT, which he had described as his “dream school,” and Harvard University. [MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes, 9/17/15]
Ahmed Will Transfer Schools, Citing Previous Prejudice From School Officials. In an interview with Dallas-Fort Worth ABC affiliate WFAA 8, Ahmed said he initially was “scared” that “nobody was going to care about [his arrest]” because he is Muslim, and described a previous instance when he was “singled-out” by his middle school vice principal who “call[ed] him names,” and “threatened to follow [him] until he graduate[d].” Toward the end of the interview, Ahmed noted that he chose MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas specifically because it offered engineering classed, but that he would not be returning to the school. [WFAA 8, 9/17/15]
Right-Wing Media Blame Ahmed, School Policy, Deny Role Of Islamophobia
Fox Contributor Jonah Goldberg: Everyone Is Defending Ahmed “Because Of the Political Correctness Angle.” On the September 17 edition of Fox's Outnumbered, Fox contributor and National Review Online editor Jonah Goldberg argued that Ahmed's case received public attention “because of the political correctness angle,” claiming that public attention would be different if Ahmed had been wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt:
JONAH GOLDBERG: But what drives me crazy is-- first of all, if this kid had a Confederate flag t-shirt, and brought in the same clock, it'd be very interesting how the culture would flip on this. I think the school--
HARRIS FAULKNER: How do you think the culture would flip on this?
GOLDBERG: Well, then we'd be hearing about look, the school officials had to do what they had to do. In the days of mass shootings, and then the Colorado shooting, and blah blah blah, and South Carolina, and I would have sympathy for that. I don't think-- what drives me crazy, is that no one freaks out about the kids who are suspended for making a gun out of a Pop-Tart, or, you know, drawing something silly on a piece of paper. And everyone's rushing to defend this kid because of the political correctness angle. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 9/17/15; Media Matters, 9/17/15]
Fox's Gallagher: Ahmed Wasn't “Forthcoming” Enough With Police. On the September 18 edition of Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Fox contributor Mike Gallagher repeatedly compared Ahmed's homemade clock to a bomb, and suggested that the student should have been more “forthcoming” when he was interrogated by the police:
MIKE GALLAGHER: The ABC affiliate in Dallas reports that the kid wasn't particularly forthcoming when the police were called. Let me give him a word of advice. When he goes to the White House for his clock-building summit with President Obama, he might want to leave that contraption behind because the U.S. Secret Service would have big problems with it. Did you see it? The thing doesn't look like a clock.
GALLAGHER: We're told: see something, say something. Now, I guess if you see something--
ALAN COLMES: A clock?
GALLAGHER: That looks like a clock?
COLMES: A clock? A 14 year-old with a clock?
GALLAGHER: Yeah, put that clock around your wrist, okay. Put it side by side by a real suitcase bomb, and it's hard to tell the difference. [Fox News, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, 9/18/15]
Limbaugh: Obama Is Using This To “Characterize The United States As A Racist And Bigoted Country.” On the September 17 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh attacked President Obama for supposedly using Ahmed's experience to make his own “star shine a little bit brighter,” and blamed Ahmed and “zero-tolerance” school policies for fueling the arrest:
RUSH: So the point here is that the effort is being made to blame school officials and the cops for Islamophobia here, and that is not what is going on. Zero-tolerance policies at schools, which are the direct result of previous incidents -- the zero tolerance is out of control, such as pretending to shoot a gun with your finger (that gets you sent home) -- is what's responsible here. It's just the latest example, and it's made to order for Obama, because here we have once again backlash against Muslims, you see?
That's what this really is. So Obama will be able to make a speech about how dangerous this is, how unfortunate it is, how sorry it is. Innocent little 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed has a brilliant science project, a brilliant clock, a new way of doing a clock. (Yeah, one looks just like a bomb in a briefcase.) Obama gets to bring him to the White House, make a star out of him, make Obama's star shine even brighter. And once again, the bottom line: Characterize the United States as a racist and bigoted country. [Premiere Radio Networks,The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/17/15]
National Review Online: “A Phony Case Of Islamophobia.” National Review Online correspondent Kevin D. Williamson declared Ahmed's controversial arrest to be “a phony case of Islamophobia,” and attacked President Obama and other public figures for expressing support for Ahmed, calling their actions “cheap moral preening,” and arguing that the story only received attention because it “can be used to further a story” about racism in the United States:
The story immediately became ubiquitous not because of what actually happened -- boneheaded as that was -- but because it can be used to further a story that the media already want to tell: that the United States is morally corrupt and irredeemably racist; that Muslims are under siege; that “white privilege” blinds the majority of Americans to the corruption at the heart of everything red, white, and blue. Muslim kid meets paranoia in Texas is A-1 copy; NRA-wearing kid meets paranoia in West Virginia, not so much.
President Barack Obama, never one to miss an opportunity for cheap moral preening, invited Mohamed to the White House. [National Review Online, 9/17/15]
Breitbart Editor: “Race Grifters Unite.” Breitbart.com Editor-At-Large John Nolte argued that the public attention given to the role of race in Ahmed's case was the work of “shameless opportunists,” and compared Ahmed's experience to examples of “hysterical Zero Tolerance school policies,” such as a student suspended for violating school dress code, praying, and saying “God bless you”:
Naturally, these shameless opportunists expressed zero outrage when a fifth-grader, a full four years younger than Ahmed, was arrested and charged with brandishing a weapon for bringing a toy gun on a school bus.
Why would they? There's no political upside for the Left unless you can scream racism.
Then there was the 7 year-old boy suspended for a Pop Tart Gun.
Once again: No political upside, no media uproar, no White House invite.
Then there was the 5th grade girl who was searched by school officials for possessing a paper gun.
No political upside means no media uproar and no White House invite. [Breitbart.com, 9/16/15]
The Federalist Editor: #IStandWithAhmed Is About “Pretend Islamaphobia.” Senior editor of The Federalist, David Harsanyi, argued that public support for Ahmed was “selective concern trolling” to create the perception that discrimination against Muslims is a pervasive problem in American life:
So a story that perfectly illustrated the tendencies of overbearing school administrators is now transformed into a teachable moment about “Islamophobia.” And blowing up a nonevent is a way to create the perception that discrimination against Muslims is a pervasive problem in American life. In the real world, though, the preponderance of victims of jumpy teachers are not Muslims. But those cases do not provide Vox or the White House with the fodder they need for some self-satisfying lecturing. [The Federalist, 9/17/15]
Townhall Columnist: Ahmed “Created An Environment That Required The Teachers To Act.” Townhall columnist Jim Hanson claimed the school was being unfairly “slurred as Islamophobic” and placed the blame on the 14-year-old Ahmed for “bring[ing] something to school that causes questions to be asked,” and on “nanny state, zero tolerance policies.” Hanson compared Ahmed's clock to pictures of an Iranian-made improvised explosive device (IED) trigger, calling it a “dead ringer” for triggers used on homemade bombs the author saw in Iraq:
The latest outrage being used to promote the false narrative about unfair treatment of Muslims is the teenager, Ahmed Mohamed, in Irving Texas arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. If you just skimmed the surface and saw the picture of the skinny nerd in the NASA t-shirt in handcuffs it would be easy to see a problem.
And there is one, but it's not discrimination against a Muslim kid that wouldn't have happened to a non-Muslim. It's nanny state, zero tolerance policies that take away the ability to apply common sense to complicated situations. In this case, whether or not to put cuffs on a 14 year old when he brings something to school that causes questions to be asked.
But as far as the other question, was the clock device he brought to school a legitimate cause for concern, the answer is an unequivocal yes. I have built and taught classes on improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and the clock he brought to school is a dead ringer for the trigger used on many of these homemade bombs. [Townhall.com, 9/17/15]
Breitbart Contributor: Arrest Happened “Because Of Zero Tolerance Policies, Not Islamophobia.” Breitbart contributor Merrill Hope argued that the blame for Ahmed's treatment rested with the Irving Schools Code of Conduct, and lamented the “Islamophobic narrative” she claimed was perpetuated by President Obama and Hillary Clinton's public support for Ahmed:
Once the predominantly Islamophobic slanted story broke nationally, outpourings of support for Mohamed exploded on social media. In response, Ahmed Mohamed milked the PR spin. He tweeted: "Thank you for your support! I really didn't think people would care about a muslim boy. #Thankyouforstandingwithme. #IStandWithAhmed.
Not long after, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted out her two cents on social media on the Islamophobic narrative.
Not to be outdone, President Barrack Obama also jumped on the bandwagon and invited young Mohamed to the White House. [Breitbart.com, 9/16/15]
Infowars: Notion That Mohamed Was Treated Differently Because Of Race Is “Completely Bogus.” At Infowars, Editor-At Large Paul Joseph Watson claimed that Ahmed's story gained attention because of the “trendy” fact that the student is Muslim and called the notion that Ahmed's race or religion played a factor in his treatment “completely bogus”:
14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed built a clock to impress his teacher but ended up in handcuffs after police were called over concerns the object resembled a bomb.
The leftist media and social justice warrior 'virtue signallers' immediately leapt on the story to claim that Mohamed was targeted because he was a Muslim (and not because his “clock” looked nothing like a clock and more closely resembled a bomb in a briefcase).
Never wasting an opportunity to ingratiate himself with the politically correct crowd, Obama reached out to Ahmed and invited him to visit the White House.
The notion that white kids wouldn't be treated the same way and that Ahmed was only targeted because of his skin color or religion is completely bogus.
Innumerable non-Muslim kids have been disciplined, suspended and even SWAT-teamed for objects far less concerning than Ahmed's clock.
To the left, defending American kids who are persecuted for wearing Old Glory just isn't trendy enough, but if a Muslim called Mohamed gets in trouble for bringing something that resembles a bomb to school, liberals are falling over themselves to worship him. [InfoWars.com, 9/17/15]
Breitbart's Ben Shapiro: Ahmed's Experience “Stinks with Leftist Exploitation.” Breitbart's Senior Editor-At-Large Ben Shapiro pushed a theory that Ahmed's father, who he called “an anti-Islamaphobia media gadfly,” exploited his son's experience to push a message of widespread Islamophobia:
Again, where was the engineering teacher to vouch for Mohammed's story? Why didn't Mohammed simply explain himself? The police said that initially, it was “not immediately evident” that the clock-in-a-case was a class experiment - perfectly plausible, given that Mohammed built the clock-in-a-case voluntarily, without assignment, and in conjunction with no science fair. [Breitbart.com, 9/18/15]
The Daily Caller: “Don't Bring A Clock To School Unless It Looks Like a Clock.” Associate editor of the Daily Caller, Scott Greer, blamed Ahmed for his own arrest, arguing that the teenager “should have had the good sense” to keep his clock put away:
Of course, if it was just a clock Mohamed brought to show off to a teacher, the school was out of bounds. But the young engineer should have had the good sense to follow that teacher's advice and put it away. If it was intended as a bomb prank, then the school was justified in its actions. People who yell “Bomb!” at an airport get hauled off to jail. There's no great injustice in sending Mohamed to juvie for an hour and giving him a three-day suspension for doing the same thing.
We live in a dangerous world, and not even schools are safe from the devastation. We can't demand zero tolerance policies to keep schools safe, but then at the same time demand exceptions for protected classes.
Until the day that our society can rest assured that students won't try to kill their fellow classmates at school, we'll have to live with Mr. Mohamed getting suspended for three days over a clock. [The Daily Caller, 9/18/15]