What should a school do when it catches a kid with a prank bomb/clock?
Apparently not what administrators did at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas.
When 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed brought a homemade clock in a mini-suitcase to school Monday, the principal promptly freaked out. Police were called, young Mohamed was pulled out of class, interrogated and then given a handcuffed perp walk through MacArthur’s hallways. He was not charged with a crime, but he was sent to a juvenile detention center and fingerprinted before being released to his father. (RELATED: Cops Detain High School Freshman Ahmed Mohamed After Officials Mistake His Clock For A BOMB)
What happened to Mohamed might have been an overreaction on the part of the school, but it was par the course for school safety. Whether Mohamed brought the improvised clock to school to show off to a teacher or assembled a fake bomb prank is beside the point. According to Mohamed, he told only one teacher what the device was and the teacher told him to put it away. He didn’t, and school officials treated it like they would any suspicious material.
Contrary to left-wing rhetoric on the subject, 99.9 percent of people would have no idea what the hell this device is, upon seeing it.
A good number of folks would think a bomb.
So it’s understandable that the school wanted to know what Mohamed was carrying in his brief case. Because, you know, schools are supposed to keep kids safe and check out any suspicious material.
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.
However, no one in the national media has seen it this way, and the incident has since drawn the combined ire of the chattering class due to the perception that the school was too dumb and bigoted to realize the device was a clock.
That’s because Mohamed happens to be a Muslim, and this fact automatically means the school and police treated him differently.
The media quickly interpreted the detention of the Texas ninth grader as a brazen act of Islamophobia. The only reason that could possibly explain the school calling police to investigate a suspicious device is that the principal harbors a repugnant intolerance toward Muslims.
The always vigilant Council on American-Islamic Relations quickly pounced and promoted Mohamed as a victim of middle American tyranny. The story officially became that of a teen who had built something akin to the iPhone 7 and only brought it to school to show off his brilliance.
President Obama invited Mohamed to bring his “cool clock” to the White House at the same time his residence was shut down over a “suspicious package” that looked less like a bomb than the ninth grader’s machine. #IStandWithAhmed began trending on social media as liberals stood up to those reactionary rubes who oppressed poor Ahmed. Google, Facebook and Twitter all offered employment to the now-famous high schooler. (RELATED: Obama Invites Ahmed Mohamed From ‘Hoax Bomb’ Scare To White House)
Remarkably, with all the pressure from the national media, the president and Twitter, MacArthur High School and Irving police stood by their actions.
That’s probably because they were not motivated by “Islamophobia,” but by strict protocol designed to keep schools safe. After the Columbine shooting (an incident when high schoolers brought actual bombs on campus), education centers across the nation implemented zero tolerance policies. Those policies were intended to provide effective guidelines to handle suspicious behavior and ensure that no more Columbines happened again.
As with any safety measure, there have been outrageous overreactions on the part of administrators and teachers. My colleague Eric Owens has written a plethora of stories on schools taking zero tolerance policies far beyond comprehension.
There’s the famous story of the second grader who was suspended for having a half-eaten pop tart that sorta resembled a firearm. (RELATED: Second-grader suspended for having breakfast pastry shaped like a gun)
There’s the kindergartner who peed his pants while being interrogated for more than two hours after bringing a cap gun to school. (RELATED: Kindergartner interrogated over cap gun until he pees his pants, then suspended 10 days)
A New York high school banned National Guard shirts because they depicted a minuteman carrying a rifle. (RELATED: Offended High School Officials Ban National Guard Shirts Over RIFLE IMAGE)
And that’s only a few of the many cases of egregious administrative stupidity when it comes to enforcing zero tolerance policies.
However, none of these overreactions were a result of Islamophobia. In fact, besides Mohamed’s case, there are none that come to mind that even involve Muslims.
If Mohamed was a Christian, a Buddhist or a follower of Zeus, the school would’ve reacted in the same manner to his mysterious briefcase.
But if Mohamed was a Christan, a Buddhist or a follower of Zeus, he wouldn’t be receiving any attention right now and his case would’ve been buried in the back pages of the local paper.
The reason why this particular teen is now a national story is because it fits a narrative. The chattering class wants to believe that middle America is an inhospitable place toward Muslims and followers of the Islamic faith are routinely discriminated against in our country.
Some conservatives hoped that Ahmed’s story would highlight the many zero tolerance abuses against elementary school boys making finger pistol gestures. That’s a misbegotten hope.
The only other case that’s gained media attention is that of a black Florida high schooler who was arrested for bringing a flammable science experiment — which started billowing smoke upon arrival — to school in 2013. That case was highlighted because it fit the narrative that our society oppresses African-Americans, not because it was an example of administrative overreaction.
It would be nice to live in a world where schools didn’t panic over science experiments, pop tarts and homemade clocks. But that world died when kids started killing their classmates — and our society demanded safety above all else.
It would also be nice if some people didn’t have an irrational fear that every Muslim wants to build a bomb. But, then again, it’d be much nicer if Muslim extremists stopped building bombs to slaughter innocent civilians.
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.