The greatest thing to ever happen to Ahmed Mohammed was to be arrested. Now let’s be clear to this point. The rest of the story doesn’t read like an ABC AfterSchool Special titled “Scared Straight.” Ahmed’s story is mainly about a confluence of random events, put together at the perfect time. By all accounts Mr. Mohammed is a pretty typical 14 year old boy. He likes to tinker and build things and this curiosity le5d him to bring one of his inventions to school. At this point, though, the story becomes less and less about Ahmed Mohammed’s clock and more about the lengths many will go to advance an agenda. Not that this kid isn’t benefitting from the process. He’s gotten invitations to meet people like Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerburg. He’s even secured an invite to the White House from the President himself. At this point in the story, there might be a temptation to ask what’s the big deal?
In spite of what has been written and said by many, this young man hasn’t really been terrorized. Getting arrested probably wasn’t fun. School suspension is certainly an issue, as was being stuck in a juvenile detention center. There are issues to be raised and questions to be asked but considering Ahmed was never shot, nor tazed, nor waterboarded…………how traumatic could this experience have been? As the buzz over this story cools, though, there are 3 troubling aspects to this story that really should be put under the microscope:
1. How serious are we about school security? – For all the comedic fodder about Texas and their guns, mass school shootings aren’t an issue for this state. One of the big keys to security is to err on the side of caution whenever need be. Was it really necessary to detain Ahmed Mohammed? No. Was arresting this young man and taking him to a juvenile detention center the only way to handle a questionable situation? Maybe not. As a parent, yes, this reaction would upset me but as a parent it is likewise reassuring to know that someone at this school is concerned for the well being of all students. The whole ordeal is eerily similar to the situation at high traffic airports across the nation. There is one big difference though. Rational adults can debate the merits of maintaining a balance between security and civil liberties in a place full of grown ups. Do we really want to apply this same debate when it comes to the welfare of our children?
2. What is our exact definition of the term victim? – Webster’s Dictionary offers multiple clear cut definitions for this word. Many of the people who are indignant to Ahmed’s treatment are the types of people who clamor about shades of gray. If we choose to go by the book, there are twice as many victims as there are tormentors. Since this is impractical, maybe we ought to narrow the field a little bit. Oh, wait, if we narrow the field then we may get to identify the truly wronged people. See where this is headed? Nothing that happened to Ahmed Mohammed will leave a scar………..physical or emotional. Look around at what’s happening in the world around us. Hungary isn’t exactly welcoming the Syrian refugees with open arms. People really do still get beheaded in the middle East. Tried being LBGT in Russia lately? This isn’t a call of absolution for those who commit bigoted or racist acts. This is simple pointing out that we are in such a hurry to make some people into victims that we don’t spend any time differentiating between people who have been “put out” and those who are truly traumatized.
3. When did becoming a victim become so profitable? – Through all the hype and hyperbole, does anyone else wonder what exactly we’ve taught Ahmed Mohammed through this ordeal? He is only 14, after all. Nothing in this helps him in his ambition to go to MIT and become an engineer. Nothing in this ordeal would qualify as “life lessons” either. There is one specific lesson that Ahmed Mohammed has been given over and over. It sure does pay to be a victim. This is really a trend that’s been going on in earnest for the last 15 years. When was the last time President Obama invited some one to visit the White House for actually doing something? Think about it. If you are killed by a cop, the President comes to see you. If you break an unpopular law, this administration delays or cancels your prosecution. When the leader of the country acknowledges “victims” and their needs above all else the lesson is obvious.
Our Constitution allows for majority rules but minority protections. This is one of the base reasons for our complicated system of checks and balances. It is specifically setup to defend people like Ahmed Mohammed from gross misuse of power and negligence from authority figures. Mistakes were made, people were wronged. The upside of our media saturated society is that instances aren’t missed. Having said all of that, this insistence on turning a 14 year old boy into a rally cry against racism and bigotry serves no purpose at all. How about we apologize to this kid, make him promise to check all of his inventions in the office at the start of school, and move on to our next viral victim???