While Ahmed Mohamed wraps up his 15 minutes of fame as the family relocates to Qatar, it’s important to consider lessons learned for stopping copycats. After all, the next kid might really have a bomb.
Since Sept. 14th, the day of his arrest for a suspected bomb hoax at school, “Clock Boy” went from obscurity in Irving, Texas — a 14-year old freshman at MacArthur High, to international celebrity. In just over a month, he met with President Barack Obama, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir, the man charged by the international community with the Darfur genocide. He also became the favorite son of NASA, MIT, Facebook, Twitter and more, showered with tens of thousands of dollars in free gifts and travel expenses to Mecca and beyond.
So what’s the most important takeaway?
I’d say the young Mr. Mohamed has given a Rorschach test for America. That’s the century old inkblot exam designed to test psychological reactions to images.
For folks who see America in negative light – a racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic country, commonly held views on college campuses and overseas, Ahmed appears to be an innocent victim of intolerant teachers and heavy handed police. The notion that a dark-skinned, Muslim kid from Sudan was arrested for inventing a clock, in Texas of all places, was enough to send them through the roof, screaming “Islamophobia.” They shot first, and didn’t even bother to question later.
Just hours after Ahmed’s sister insisted the officers keep the cuffs on so she could snap a photo of him detained at the police station, the victim narrative began to build.
Two days later, on Sept. 16th, @POTUS sent out the “Cool Clock” Tweet inviting Ahmed to the White House.
Other notables immediately jumped on the bandwagon. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg posted a message, “Ahmed, if you ever want to come by Facebook, I’d love to meet you. Keep building.” Twitter tweeted an internship offer. The hashtag, #IStandwithAhmed and related account were born, with the latter now up to 115K followers. The mainstream media swooned over the NASA shirt.
Meanwhile, to people who see America in a mostly positive light — an equal opportunity place where anybody can succeed, Ahmed’s story deserved a second look. Despite near universal agreement that our public schools are overly paranoid, with one in Maryland suspending a 7-year old kid over a pop-tart chewed into the shape of a gun, something seemed strange about the president getting so personally involved in Ahmed’s case.
And thus debunking the “clock hoax” began.
Engineers posted videos on You Tube calling the invention a fraud, simply an old Radio Shack alarm clock taken apart and placed back into a pencil case, eerily resembling a small suitcase bomb.
Then came the public revelation that Ahmed’s father, Mohamed El Hassan Mohamed has been an Islamist provocateur for years. Like defending the Koran in Florida Pastor Terry Jones’ mock trial in which it was burned. Advancing 9/11 conspiracy stories suggesting the attack was a U.S. hoax. And now saying that the clock incident will help “spread Islam.”
Ahmed’s elder sister acknowledged she was suspended from school years ago over a bomb threat. And according to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on Bill Maher’s HBO show, she whispered answers to Ahmed during his phone call with the youngster.
Then we found out that Irving, Texas has been a battleground over Sharia Law for the past several years — sparked by a high profile honor killing of two Egyptian teenage girls by their father, a state legislature push to demand American laws for American courts, and the Mayor’s opposition against an Islamic mediation court at the town’s mega-mosque. Which gives Ahmed and his family a clear motive for causing trouble with Irving officials.
We also discovered Ahmed’s handlers were from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1990s, and designated a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.
So when we peel back the layers of the onion, one by one, it’s pretty obvious what happened. America got sucker-punched. We’ve been branded worldwide as a racist and immoral country without even knowing what hit us.
That not only damages our legitimacy and credibility in world affairs, it paralyzes teachers, police and the general public from saying anything if they see something suspicious. Better to be silent, than branded racist or Islamophobic, they’ll think. What a great way for our enemies, foreign and domestic, to disarm America.
It’s well past time for all Americans, regardless of their politics, to ask the tough questions and then look at those Rorschach tests a little more clearly. Turning a blind eye to problems for the sake of political correctness won’t make them go away. It just compounds them.
J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy Commander and former Pentagon spokesman who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005-2009.