Ahmed Mohamed just wanted to impress his teachers with a homemade invention. The story of what happened next has made the 14-year-old from Irving, Tex., the object of national outrage and attention.

Eager to show off to his engineering teacher, Mohamed walked into MacArthur High School on Monday morning with his hastily assembled invention: A digital clock.

Hours later, the ninth-grader was escorted out of the school in police custody after teachers mistook the device for a bomb.

The incident has triggered allegations of racism and made a Texas school district the target of outrage that began online and quickly spilled into the most powerful offices in the land.

As the story spread, along with a photo of Mohamed in a NASA T-shirt and handcuffs, support came flooding in.

He was escorted out in handcuffs, not shot, for God’s sake. My criticism of the school and/or police is that hours later he was removed rather than immediately.

Where is the common sense here? At 14, a smart kid should be aware that devices that look like what he made would produce panic, especially to the untrained eye. (I got wigged out over a county mosquito trap in my yard several years ago.) Furthermore, the boy’s parents should have been keenly aware that their kid’s “invention” might send the wrong message–sort of like why you don’t take toy guns or fake hand-grenades to school.

The school’s first responsibility is for the safety of students and staff. Anything suspicious should be immediately dealt with as a threat. Mr. Mohamad should have asked permission before bringing his invention to school.

Should his arrest stand? Probably not but his parents and he need to have a conference with school administration about using common sense. In this day and age of violence, there is just no time for second guessing.

This kid isn’t some beset upon hero. He was a dumb ass totally lacking in common sense and should be treated as such, not invited to the White House.


70 Thoughts to “I do NOT stand with Ahmed Mohamed”

  1. Cargosquid

    The school overreacted. They obviously knew that it was not a bomb.
    If they DID think that it was a bomb….then every single parent needs to remove their children, sue, and demand that those involved be fired.

    If they thought it was a bomb enough to handcuff him…they should have immediately evacuated the building via fire alarm.

    He brought an invention to school. His shop teacher knew it wasn’t a bomb.

    More of that zero tolerance malarkey.

    1. I didn’t realize his shop teacher was involved. However, if some of the shop teachers I knew were involved in decision making, I would be scared.

      School security should have been alerted immediately for a risk assessment.

      Sorry, Cargo, this kid should have known better than to bring something like that to school without warning. It really isn’t up for someone untrained in risk assessment to be making safety decisions that affect s couple thousand people.

      Its a stupid situation all around but this kid is no hero on this one. If he’s smart enough to be able to build something like that, he is smart enough to know that school is an inappropriate place to bring it to show off.

  2. Starry flights

    This is America. People in America ought not to be arrested for their religious biliefs. That is unconstitutional and unAmerican. I am glad Obama invited him to the White House.

    1. Religious beliefs? Where do you figure religious beliefs? He wasn’t really arrested, I don’t think.

      What he did was very serious. The school didn’t know it was not an explosive. My criticism of the school is they responded too slowly.

      Sorry, this is about safety, not religion.

  3. Scout

    I don’t know what the thing looked like, but it was a digital clock, for goodness sake. I have one on my dresser. If a white Christian kid had brought in a home-made digital clock, would he have been hustled out in irons? I really doubt it. I very much have to believe that this kid was treated the way he was because his name was Ahmed Mohammed, and not Mike.

    By the way, building a digital clock from scratch strikes me as an impressive accomplishment for a 14 year old. That should get a ribbon at a science fair.

    1. There is a picture of the device in the Washington Post. To the untrained eye, it looked pretty scary. My eyes are untrained. I would have thought bomb also, having nothing to do with his ethnicity. Good ole boys like we have here in Prince Billy Bob County can build bombs also. They can also smuggle weapons into the building and lock n load.

      When you have the safety of a couple thousand people to consider, you take care of business, then ask questions.

      I have spent way too many years on the scene to think that was just a curious child. He should have known better than to bring something like that to school.

  4. Scout

    BTW, Cargo’s comment really hits all the issues right on the sweet spot with a commendable economy of words. The people at the school showed horrific judgment. Ditto whoever decided that it was necessary to cuff this boy. None of the stories show any indication that he was acting violently toward anyone. Why not talk to him and have him explain what he had built? What is this kid supposed to think of a country where you can bring in to school something of your creation in which you took pride, and you end up being perp-walked in shackles in front of the whole nation? Maybe the White House visit will offset some of that kind of abuse.

    1. why not talk to him and ask him to explain?

      Because if he had built a weapon, a couple thousand people were in immediate danger. Would you say the same thing if he bought a toy gun or a toy hand grenade to school? How about a big rubber machete? He also didn’t appear to be a recent immigrant, based on his command of English.

      He had better be thinking that he was a dumb ass and not to do something like that again.

      School personnel really doesn’t have the skill set to evaluate explosives. Too bad someone didn’t think to call the cops over those backpacks in Boston. I am going to try to find a picture to post of this contraption he built.

  5. Starry flights

    Bombs always are attached to clocks in the movies; otherwise the audience won’t know how close the Jack Bauer or James Bond came to instant death! I think these school officials have watched too much 24!

    I also support corporal punishment for misbehaving school principles and teachers, haha!

  6. George S. Harris

    I pretty much agree with Cargo and with Scout’s #4. The terrible part is that Ahmed nor his parents had enough common sense to know that a clock in a pencil box would be perceived as a bomb-we are bomb phobic and justly so. But the long delay belies the fact that the school and the police thought it was a bomb. I have to say that Moon’s comments in the last paragraph are over the top.

    1. Everything I say and do is over the top.

      Just that kinda woman I guess. Probably a million years in the classroom did it to me.

  7. The picture has been posted. Are we so politically correct now that someone who appears to be muslim isn’t held to the same standards as every other kid in the world?

    Do you all think school personnel has time or know-how to evaluate risk assessment? Kids are smart and savvy and many always push the envelope.

    Any one kid could wreak enough havoc to send many of his or her classmates to the hospital. We read about it all the time in the newspapers.

    It is up to the school to respond quickly. the school is not responsible for his arrest. They are responsible for calling the cops which they should do.

    Schools call the police for a lot of things. Fights, contraband, look-alikes, bus disturbances.

    Sorry, to me the clock looks suspicious enough that I would have been one calling security at least if that thing had come into my classroom.

    Some of the nicest, smartest kids do some of the dumbest things. “Just wanted to see if it would detonate, Ms. Howler.” Kaboom.

    I made it to the bathroom stalls many a time for being an old bitch. Red badge of courage.

    If there had been some horrible event, then everyone would be howling and belly aching and saying the school should have done something. Bottom line. There is no winning on this one.

    I doubt that many teachers are giving this kid the thumbs up though.

    Unless it is science fair time, and its not, you just don’t bring in those kinds of projects without permission from someone.

  8. Starryflights

    You know how you can tell whether something is a bomb or not? Look for an explosive like, um, dynamite, or something. Good thing he didn’t bring in a hollowed-out TV – the idiots might have thought he made a nuclear bomb.

  9. Starryflights

    They led Ahmed into a room where four other police officers waited. He said an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”

    Ahmed felt suddenly conscious of his brown skin and his name — one of the most common in the Muslim religion. But the police kept him busy with questions.

    The bell rang at least twice, he said, while the officers searched his belongings and questioned his intentions. The principal threatened to expel him if he didn’t make a written statement, he said.

    “They were like, ‘So you tried to make a bomb?’” Ahmed said.

    “I told them no, I was trying to make a clock.”

    “He said, ‘It looks like a movie bomb to me.’”



    1. Big problem here. I doubt if the Dallas Newspaper was present during his questioning.

      Maybe the kid had a track record. Maybe he was a known smart ass. Maybe it was said, maybe it wasn’t. You and I weren’t there.

      Here’s the reality: A kid can kill a roomful of people just as easily as an adult can. A kid of any color, even.

  10. Cargosquid

    But they DID do risk assessment.

    They decided that it was NO RISK. Even while detaining the boy.

    Otherwise, they would have evacuated the school and called the bomb squad.

  11. Cargosquid

    So….the cops were questioning him without his parents there?

    Bells rang twice…so we’re talking at least one hour.

    Where’s the parents?

  12. @Starryflights

    I feel certain they eventually did look for explosives. Do you seriously want to leave that up to school personnel?

    Its easy to Monday morning quarterback.

  13. Mom

    Good thing they never bothered to look in the trunk of my car or the gun ruck on my pickup back when I was in HS. They would have freaked out if they saw the loaded clips lying on the truck’s floor. But then again I guess its understandable given that my truck was one of about 50 with some manner or rifle or shotgun clearly visible in the window of the cab. We have become a nation of delicate pecksniffs.

  14. Starryflights

    Officer Barney Fife was on the job.

  15. Emma

    I’m so sick of people who have no effin’ clue what it is to be a police officer these days. The cops are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t, while armchair know-it-alls second-guess and pontificate with juvenile, police-hate cut-and-paste- over what they should or should not have done. We never really get to hear the whole story, either, but why bother with facts when the police are always wrong?

    Moon, I am absolutely 100% in agreement with you here. My sense tells me this kid just felt like embarrassing his teachers and the police, knowing full well that the race outcry would shield him. If we’re going to crack down on kids who chew their PopTarts into gun shapes, go “bang-bang” with their index finger, or wear a shirt that has an image that looks like a weapon, then all the more reason this kid should have been suspended for his look-alike bomb. I love how so many keyboard jockeys are all of a sudden ordnance experts who can tell real bombs from fake.

  16. Scout

    So, Emma, what do you think the whole story is that we’re missing? The photos make this thing look a lot more like a laptop than a bomb. My guess is that there have been a lot of laptops on the premises of this school. Why do you call it a “look-alike bomb”?

    The point that’s a little hard to escape here is this: How many of us think that the reaction would have been the same if Presbyterian Johnny had brought in a similar clock? There’s no way to empirically determine that, but I’m skeptical. I feel fairly certain that the reaction had a great deal to do with the ethnicity of this kid.

    1. My laptop looks nothing like that.

  17. Lyssa

    The cops would have responded to Presbyterian Johnny the same way. Most kids bringing bombs and guns into schools have been white. TSA checks every laptop. Threat assessment has to be made immediately with relatively few facts. Or you could check facts and people die while you’re thinking. Try being the first responder to a school with a possible threat these days. Who wants to chance that?

    I’m with you, Emma

  18. ed myers

    If the briefcase was full of playdough, then you can call it a bomb look-alike. Just because someone claimed to be scared doesn’t make something a look-alike weapon. I had to edit the student rights and responsibility my children signed to go to school to make it clear that just because someone was mistakenly frightened did not mean that my kid could be suspended for a weapon violation. The device has to look like a real weapon to a reasonable person and the child had to intend that the object scare people. Neither of these conditions were meet in this case. Otherwise you can have someone feign fear to justify suspending students not accepted because of prejudices…as in seems to be in this case.

    1. Schools and first responders don’t really have time to assess people’s little feelings. The decisions they make on the front line can mean life or death to a building full of people.

      I repeat–the kid wasn’t shot or even man-handled. I really think those of you who haven’t been in the position of making split second decisions have no idea what it’s like.

      A school’s first priority is the safety of those in that building.

      What did the kid do wrong? He probably didn’t follow the code of behavior or whatever the book of rules is called there. Almost all codes of behavior forbid unauthorized electronic equipment.

      I side with Lyssa and Emma on this one.

  19. Lyssa

    I’m sure the edits didn’t mean much. I used to talk to parents about bringing kids to school late – they were so surprised when after justifying why they consistently chose to arrive late (just missing prayer and announcements) when I would say, oh no, you are free to make that decision about your child, however, you are disrupting the other children and that’s our concern so please stop.

    You don’t define the victim. The victim does then demonstrates why.

  20. Scout

    If there was a code of conduct that forbade the bringing in of objects like this, I don’t have any problem with it being inspected or confiscated. I also have a feeling that there may have been some prior communication between the kid and someone about what he was working on. I simply don’t believe, however, that the Ahmed’s ethnicity had nothing to do with this. Maybe my kids have been away from school so long that I’m out of touch with modern conditions (my last graduated from high school four years ago). I don’t think, however, any thing even approaching this would have happened at her school under these circumstances. And I really don’t think any 14 year old non-Muslim would have been cuffed and interrogated the way this guy was. Finally, I do think Television has something to do with this. This might look like a bomb to someone who sees a movie with a countdown clock, but, while not an explosives expert, I can tell you that even forty -five years ago, when I did have some passing acquaintance with crude explosive devices, the timers were usually mechanical, didn’t display a countdown, they usually had, as Starry suggested, something very obvious in them (like C4 or even compacted black powder) that would explode, and a lot of little metallic bits to fly around and create a lot of damage.

    A bit ironically, however, I bet that when Ahmed takes it to the White House to show the president, it will get a close look at the gate.

    A couple of you have opined that the kid was probably asking for it – that there might have been a prior history of his being a troublemaker or a smart ass, that he was trying to embarrass his teachers, or to otherwise had a history of trying to create incidents. If that be true, it will come out in tomorrow’s coverage. That can be readily ascertained. But it seems something like that would have been obvious enough that today’s coverage would have ferreted it out.

    1. The media gets more attention and charge if they go with the prejudice and victim story line.

      We are talking about a 14 year old. Part of the definition of 14 year old often includes a fair amount of smart ass.

      Kids go to school now in a post-Columbine, post-9-11, post Boston Marathon world.

      Let’s pretend, just for a minute, that some kid (let’s make him white) had build a mini explosive of some sort and brought it to school. He wanted to show off to his teachers. This little nerdy white dude was also in an ED class. (you probably wouldn’t know about it because of privacy issues) Some girl sees his device and texts her mother that Little White brought a bomb to school and to come pick her up.

      Where do you think this is going to go? The “Engineering” (oh Please!) teacher didn’t know it was a working bomb because he’s a freaking shop teacher. The media would be all over the school, the parents would be calling for heads and rightly so.

      It has nothing to do with the kids race. You can stick any race in there you want.

      Most codes of behavior have restrictions on bringing unauthorized electronic devices for this very reason.

      Back to the case at hand…I just heard too much victimization yesterday, after my post, which was based on my experience. Last night I saw him on TV, throwing the race card. Exiting a building in handcuff is a small exchange for public safety of an entire school of children. So he squirmed for an hour. (cops). So he got 3 days suspension. (school)

      That is so freaking minor in the grand scheme of thing.

      He is probably a smart kid who likes to push the envelope. He might go on to do great things, unless his new fame turns him in to a real puke, like it often does to people who get too much attention for the wrong reasons.

  21. ed myers

    “No dark sarcasm in the classroom
    Teachers leave them kids alone
    Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
    All in all it’s just another brick in the wall.”

  22. punchak

    Invitation to MIT and the White House.
    Asked which he was more excited about, the answer was MIT!

  23. Starryflights

    This tweet about Steve Jobs exposed the problem with arresting a teen for bringing a clock to school

    Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs stands beneath a photograph of him and Apple-co founder Steve Wozniak from the early days of Apple. REUTERS/Kimberly White/Files
    The story of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Texan who was arrested on Monday after bringing a digital clock he had built to school, tugged at the heartstrings of minorities and misunderstood nerds everywhere.

    Mohamed said he brought the homemade clock, an assemblage of a circuit board and some wiring, to school to show his teachers because he thought it would impress them. Instead, teachers and school officials apparently thought Mohamed had tried to build a hoax bomb.

    A police officer and principal took the boy into a room with five more officers, where he was interrogated and had his stuff searched, Mohamed told the Dallas Morning News. The skinny 14-year-old, who was wearing a NASA t-shirt to school that day, was handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention center, where he was fingerprinted before being released to his parents.

    Ahmed’s father and others blamed the incident on Islamophobia, and Twitter exploded in outrage, with people tweeting their support for Mohamed, condemning the racism of his arrest, and saying that kids deserve teachers who can tell clocks from bombs.

    NASA scientists tweet support for Texas teen arrested for bringing electronic clock to school http://t.co/8WIgBq12Rc pic.twitter.com/LEApCESlU5

    — CBC Nova Scotia (@CBCNS) September 16, 2015

    Both President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg invited the teen to meet with them. But one of the best responses came from Omar Ghabra, a med student at the University of Washington, who tweeted:

    An Arab-looking man of Syrian descent in a garage w/his accomplice building what appears to be a bomb. Arrest them. pic.twitter.com/2i4f5PT0EB — Omar Ghabra (@omarghabra) September 16, 2015

    The photos show Steve Jobs with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and an early prototype of the personal computer that made them rich and famous.

    Jobs was of Syrian descent; his biological father was a political refugee from the Syrian city of Homs, who met Jobs’ biological mother while studying in Wisconsin. As a baby, Steve was adopted by Paul Jobs, who had a love of mechanics, and his wife Clara.

    A Syrian migrants’ child. pic.twitter.com/sjBxuInpEp

    — David Galbraith (@daveg) September 2, 2015

    There are even more similarities between the stories. As Steve Wozniak wrote on his Facebook page, Wozniak was also arrested when he was in 12th grade for bringing to school what a high-school principal thought was a bomb. (Unlike Mohamed’s story, Wozniak’s was a little malicious — he actually meant to trick the principal into thinking the device was a bomb.) The ticking digital device was actually a homemade metronome.


    Steve Jobs might have been arrested today

  24. Scout

    I don’t minimize the school security issues. Obviously, we’ve had a lot of violence in recent years at schools and obviously teachers and administrators have to react to threats.

    I hope some follow-up reporting checks to see whether this kid had a history of being a trouble-maker (no indication of that yet) or envelope pusher, whether the project had been pre-approved or discussed, or was a “surprise” (if the latter, the reaction would be a bit more plausible, although the device seemingly has absolutely no bomb attributes, other than a clock, which is what it was and what it was purported to be – I own several myself), and whether the school had a clear policy about this kind of device. As you say, Moon, it is probably not the biggest thing happening these days, but it may be a sign of the times in more ways than one.

    If we want to talk Islamophobia, we can talk about the guy who yesterday asked for Trumps plan on dealing with our “problem”: Muslims, including our current President. For balance, we can talk about Ann Coulter’s honied words about pandering by the candidates.

  25. Emma

    “I simply don’t believe, however, that the Ahmed’s ethnicity had nothing to do with this. Maybe my kids have been away from school so long that I’m out of touch with modern conditions (my last graduated from high school four years ago). I don’t think, however, any thing even approaching this would have happened at her school under these circumstances.”

    BS. Let me give you an example. My kid came home from a camping trip early one fall several years ago. I did the laundry, heard something clanking around in the dryer, but at the time I was raising four kids and two dogs, and sometimes a mom just gets a little too busy to pay attention to details like that. My kid wore cargo shorts on a school trip that Monday, reached into one of the pockets and—whoops–there was the clanker, a small pocket knife from the camping trip. My kid’s seat mate on the bus saw it and told the teacher immediately. To make a long story short, my very white kid was suspended from school for a week, we were out THOUSANDS of dollars in the long term, because the school essentially forced us into ongoing psychiatric evaluation and counseling in order for my kid to be allowed back, and the rest of the school year was essentially ruined. Note that the presence of the knife was MY FAULT, it was a complete accident, and my kid was an honor student who had never had any disciplinary issues at school. Mind you, this was a kid who innocently reached into a pocket, a little knife comes out, no one was threatened, and the school never alleged that anyone was threatened. It was the mere presence of a pocket knife that the kid had forgotten all about.

    As a side note, the teacher who ratted out my kid rather than simply confiscate the errant knife is still, as far as I know, behind bars and is a registered sex offender, so there’s that. My kid’s a pH.D dissertator.

    Fast forward a couple of years from that incident, and another one of my kids was assaulted by an African-American student who thought it was funny to stab students in the butt with a safety pin when they were at their lockers with their backs turned. A nurse mom not only thinks about the humiliation and pain of that type of attack, but HIV, hepatitis, etc. That attacker never missed a day of school after that. Nada.

    So what were you saying about race in this case?

  26. Jackson Bills

    Scout :
    How many of us think that the reaction would have been the same if Presbyterian Johnny had brought in a similar clock? There’s no way to empirically determine that, but I’m skeptical. I feel fairly certain that the reaction had a great deal to do with the ethnicity of this kid.

    I think Presbyterian Johnny would have record the same reaction from the school. My question is how many of us think that Presbyterian Johnny would have then received an invite to the White House or MIT or have prayer visuals scheduled for him tonight? There’s no way to determine that but I’m skeptical.

    1. How many presybterian Johnnys would have had a million tweets? I think he got the invitation because of the national attention.

      I am more concerned about the fall out from a copy cat wannabe now then I am anything else.

  27. Scout

    @ Emma (#35): I wasn’t saying anything about race. I was using the term ethnicity to sort of sweep in the cultural, religious and geographic background of this kid and expressing my view that if someone else of a different ethnicity had brought in another clock, the reaction would not have been the same. But, of course, that’s just my opinion.

    @ Jackson (#36). If a young WASP-geek had had the same thing happen, I’m quite sure that he would not have been invited to the White House. I’m sure his parents would have been every bit as upset as were the American/Sudanese geek’s parents were. However, in the case of the WASP-nerd, the story line would not have validated our enemies’ propaganda line that we are reflexively, prejudicially anti-Muslim, and would not have required symbolic intervention at the national level to show that we aren’t as bad as our ISIS adversaries say we are. The last two presidents, and no doubt the next couple also, have to go out of their way to offset incidents that strengthen our enemies by seemingly validating the stereotypes they peddle that we are Islam0-phobic ignoramuses. Of course, we are not, and most of us view our Muslim neighbors and fellow citizens the same way we view our multi-religioned neighbors – as signs of the strength of a country founded on religious freedom principles. But our enemies make great mischief out of these kinds of isolated incidents. Indeed, “mischief” is much too mild a term. Our enemies use these incidents to incite murder and warfare against us, so our leaders have to go out of their way to try to clean up the mess.

  28. Emma

    @Scout Of course, that makes a huge difference in your argument.

    Well, not really.

  29. Jackson Bills

    Agree with you 100% on everything you have said on this subject Moon. It’s a first 🙂

    1. Where were you yesterday when I was getting annihilated?

  30. Jackson Bills

    Agree and disagree Scout…. I agree because the core of your statement is spot on. However, I disagree because no matter how much we ‘offset incidents’ like this one there is always something they will exploit. There is no winning that game so what’s the point in continuing to play it?

  31. Scout

    True enough, JB, but we still have to try. We can’t leave the field to ISIS and their recruiters. That’s why it is essential that our leaders do everything they can to put the lie to the propaganda that we are Islamo-phobic nincompoops. They have the visibility to offset the notion that we reflexively anti-Muslim. If there were Presbyterian terrorist groups out there bent on our destruction, they would embrace publicly the little Presbyterian computer nerd who got put in handcuffs. But that’s not a real world problem.

  32. Ed Myers

    #BlackLivesMatter are also claiming this kid as one of their own to buttress their argument that institutional racism is ubiquitous in many parts of the country.

    We know the school did not believe that the clock was a bomb. Telling others they thought it was to justify their draconian actions created a hoax bomb scenario intended to scare people and reflect badly on this student whose name identified his religious ethnicity. Their reasons for doing this are unknown but I strongly suspect bias. I’ve heard teachers outside the classroom express their racial and ethnic prejudice when talking about students and parents. I believe the school took the actions it did to express their personal opinions that allowing more Muslim immigrants is dangerous. It was a way to influence current events. The right wing is full of warnings about ISIS infiltrating the US and this story had all the elements of that fear in caricature.

    When will the school administrators be arrested for making a false bomb report?

    1. Ed, I am sorry, but that was one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard. That school has a moral responsibility to call in anything suspicious. You don’t know that they did call in a bomb report.

      Why do you eavesdrop? Funny, all those years I spent in a school setting, I can’t think of a single time I heard teachers stand outside the classroom and express racial or ethical prejudice. Ever. I seriously doubt if you have either. I am calling bullshit on your lie.

  33. blue

    @Ed Myers

    We agree, but for the reverse of reasons. I suggest and would ask that we consider the possibility that it was a stunt to cause a reaction and the opportunity for both a protest of how people today react to moslems and an opportunity for a lawsuit. Should pay for college and then some.

    1. I just think he was a kid who made a bad choice. Some kids do that while growing up.

  34. Ed Myers

    Testing people in positions of power (police, school administrators) is a time honored way to show institutional bias. If that is what is going on it worked well. I’m sure this sort of bias has happened to many but not all stories have the right components to effect change because the student profile isn’t sympathetic (e.g. the student with the “Bong Hits for Jesus” free speech claim.) This kid had the profile, parents and resources to turn injustice into an international story.

  35. Ed Myers

    @moon, one of my neighbors is a teacher and a right-winger politically and you should hear her talk at neighborhood parties. You can’t convince me that bigotry about neighbors because of their ethnicity and a severe dislike of Islam as a “religion” is left at the schoolhouse door. I don’t think teachers are overtly discriminatory but holding those feeling in is enough to cause a teacher to make poor judgement calls and then claim it was just prudence to err on the side of caution.

    A clock is the first electronics project one would do and it is cool enough for one to want to show it off. A chemistry experiment is a far more dangerous project to show off.

  36. Ed Myers

    @Moon, so you think they called in a suspicious clock? Why would the police come unless told that the electronic timing device was part of a bomb? Electronic clocks can’t harm anyone and at best was disruptive to the class when it beeped, hardly a criminal issue. If the justification is that they thought the rest of a bomb could be somewhere else in school, that is a bit more plausible from a bigoted mind frame but they didn’t evacuate the building and that is what people following protocol would have done if they seriously feared a bomb. Clocks are used in every electronic device and bombs don’t need electronics for ignition so connecting wires and electronics to a suspicion of a bomb is so broad brush to be meaningless unless the dots got connected into an ah-ah moment of fear simply because the student possessing it was Islamic.

    And to say this device wasn’t appropriate at school misses the fundamental show-and-tell hand-on learning experience for engineers. The kid did not make a bad choice to bring it to school.

    1. Obviously he did make a bad choice. He is sure complaining about what happened to him. If you don’t want to be led away, don’t violate the code of behavior. Its fairly simple.

      Forget the kid is a muslim. How did anyone know he was a muslim? hmmmmmmmmm…

      A school has a responsibility to alert authorities any time there is a suspicious device in the building, even if they are pretty sure it is harmless. Sort of like they have a responsibility to call in authorities if they are pretty sure the herb is oregano.

      You really don’t understand the concept of having the responsibility for the safety of hundreds of others, do you? Its basically not a judgement call. There are procedures that must be gone through.

      The device might have been appropriate if he asked permission to bring it to show off. 14 is a little freaking old for show and tell.

      Ed, what generally speaking do you do for a living?

  37. Emma

    Ed, you live in such an enviably sheltered, make-believe world. Sorry, but I’ve put four kids through public school and have several friends who teach in City and PWC schools, and a close family member who is in law enforcement. Every one of us would tell you that you are full of it.

    1. That was short, sweet and to the point. Standing ovation. @Emma

  38. Ed Myers

    I live and exist so my experience can’t be dismissed as a make believe world unless yours is too. @emma.

    Good luck with STEM education and having a innovative and productive work force if teachers and parents and law enforcement all can’t get their heads around the fact that a patch board and a few electric components is as remotely a suspicious bomb component as a can of hairspray and some dental floss. I’m channeling McGyver, now, and he says anything in a women’s purse could be fashioned into a bomb! Protect the school: suspend any kids with purses cause they might have Mentos, which as we all know will blow up when placed in a sealed but nearly empty soda bottle. Might as well suspend boys with nearly empty soda bottles, too, as for all we know they are planning to meet up with a girl with some mentos. One can’t be too cautious, yaknow.

  39. Emma

    Go to the White House and tell the guards you just want to show the President your Mentos contraption. Tell us how it worked out for you.

  40. blue


    Go to your favorite faux news channels CNN or MSLSD and look at the film of the clock built in and wired to a breif case. Tell me again what you would have done to assure the safety of others. I am with Emma on this having done it many times. Ed, you could not get in with your Timex on your wrist .

  41. Emma

    Ahmed should have pulled this stunt at Sidwell Friends. The reaction would have been interesting.

    1. It would not have been good!

  42. Jackson Bills

    Moon-howler :
    Where were you yesterday when I was getting annihilated?

    Sorry, it’s been a crazy week… but I’m with you on this one Moon.

    1. Emma and Lyssa are with us also. Jackson, you are surrounded by women on this one. The only rooster in this hen house…

  43. Jackson Bills

    Moon-howler :
    How many presybterian Johnnys would have had a million tweets? I think he got the invitation because of the national attention.
    I am more concerned about the fall out from a copy cat wannabe now then I am anything else.

    So you agree with me that the White House invite was a cheap political stunt because of all of the buzz, right?

    1. I think it shouldn’t have happened. I think it wasn’t thought through thoroughly.

  44. Scout

    The White House invite came about before the buzz really got going. It was about the fact that we’re engaged in a war with an extremely clever enemy that exploits instances (real or perceived) of Western hostility toward Muslims to recruit manipulable, impressionable young Muslims from Western countries to a utopian Caliphate. Both this administration and the prior one have had to engage that propaganda directly by visible signs of support for our American Muslim community to ensure that these incidents are neutralized as propaganda devices.

    As I’ve read through the many comments here and on other sites about this incident, I’ve come to have a more nuanced view of the situation in Texas than was my first impression. I realize now that schools have necessarily developed such a heightened security environment and culture, and our Hollywood view of terrorism is so pervasive, that something electronic in a case might be perceived, at least momentarily, as a threat. Fair enough. The cost of ignoring or not noticing could be very high. What happened next, however, the handcuffs, the lengthy interrogation, the failure to immediately involve the parents, seem to me to reflect bad judgement. But all that’s neither here nor there once the picture of the kid in cuffs goes out into the enemy’s blogosphere. Our presidents have to be extremely active, and aggressively use their position of visibility in the world to put the lie to the idea that Americans are irrationally hostile toward Islam and its adherents, that we don’t tolerate the religion as we tolerate other religions, that we are an irrationally frightened people. So gestures like inviting Ahmed Mohammed to the White House are important parts of that active engagement against some very serious, deadly adversaries.

    1. I don’t think it sent a good message about going by school rules. There is a whole vacuum out there that we don’t know about because of privacy issues. That’s the reason I hate second guessing things like that. I hadn’t thought about some of the reasons you gave. Strange how we look at things from different perspectives. I put on my school hat. You put on your lawyer hat. I know what hats Emma and Lyssa put on.

      I just know that the first order of business in a school is safety. that’s before education even. (lots of things are actually before education). If someone’s little feelings get hurt, well, sometimes that happens. Bringing strange looking devices to school is a good way to get the school services swat team there in a real hurry.

  45. Emma

    Fair point about getting ahead of the propaganda war, Scout. But the optic for many people is that once again, the White House jumps into a local issue and second-guesses police actions before all the facts are known. So the White House sends the message that local police are just a bunch of bigoted yokels who never get it right, so they need to rush in and “fix” things. And that is simply unfair.

    1. That’s how it hits me too, Emma. I hadn’t thought of Scout’s reasoning though.

  46. Censored bybvbl

    I agree with Scout. The school has to take some precautions. I’d even agree that calling the police was appropriate since no school personnel appeared to able to identify the kid’s project. He had told the shop teacher about it so it wasn’t as though it was secretly brought into the school.

    However, the police response was excessive – handcuffs, detention without notifying his parents, a long interrogation. Doesn’t the police bomb squad have the ability to recognize what’s in front of them?

    After the pictures appear in the news, it’s the President’s job to try to do damage control. after the President does just that, it’s the right-wing’s job to try to second guess and vilify him.

  47. George S. Harris

    @ Moon you said:

    “This kid isn’t some beset upon hero. He was a dumb ass totally lacking in common sense and should be treated as such, not invited to the White House.”

    Then you said: “We are talking about a 14 year old. Part of the definition of 14 year old often includes a fair amount of smart ass.”

    And you said: “He had better be thinking that he was a dumb ass and not to do something like that again.

    With your attitude about kids being “dumb asses”, am glad you never were my teacher.

    “The picture has been posted. Are we so politically correct now that someone who appears to be muslim isn’t held to the same standards as every other kid in the world?

    Then you said: “Forget the kid is a muslim. How did anyone know he was a muslim? hmmmmmmmmm…”

    You say he appears to be a Muslim–what does a Muslim look like? Then you say, “Forget the kid is a muslim and then you ask: “How did anyone know….?” Obviously you knew because you said he looked like a Muslim.

    I am amazed at your skills of being able to identify a 14 year boy’s religion by how he looks. Maybe you could get a job with the FBI or the TSA as a profiler.

    1. I am very glad you weren’t my student also.

      I have no idea how a muslim looks unless they are wearing muslim clothing. I don’t believe I said he looked like a muslim. Perhaps its time to close comments on this subject. I smell a dead horse.

  48. George S. Harris

    @ Moon: “I hadn’t thought of Scout’s reasoning though.” That’s right because, after all, 14 year old kids are, “dumb asses”. “Forget that he is a muslim…”

    Shame on you and your approach to this kid.

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