Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday.
His clock now sits in an evidence room. Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock.
It's hard to capture the magnitude of the ignorant, arrogant short-sightedness in this. Let's take a crack at it anyway.
Killing the American Dream
The much-vaunted American Dream says that if you, individual you, work hard and hustle hard, you can be anything - the next Steve Jobs, the next Oprah or the next President. As a side-bar to that, the narrative suggests hand-outs are oppressive to the individual's ability to succeed.
Yet here we have a young man who had no criminal record trying to impress his teachers with unquestionable giftedness, and he's been smacked down hard for it. What message gets sent to the broader public? That the American Dream doesn't apply if you're brown-skinned or have a Muslim name?
Depriving the American Economy
How old are you in grade 9? 17? Ahmed Mohamed made a clock. He's made a go-cart. I couldn't do that, and I'm 20 years older. This is skill, ability - and more than that, it's the kind of technical ability Western labour markets need more of. Plus, he was proud of his work and wanted to show it off - that strikes me as a great starting point for entrepreneurialism.
The job of schools is to produce educated, well-adjusted youth who can add value to society and the economy. That doesn't happen when people are labelled "terrorist" and thrown into jail for showing positive initiative.
Giving Police a Bad Name
"Look, we get that he said it was a clock and that, in actuality, it was a clock. We're gonna charge him with bomb-making anyway.
What the hell??!? This is a Rob Ford level of doubling-down. These Irving cops have essentially admitted they were wrong and jumped the gun, but because they're the cops and he's a brown kid, they can't really back down, right? So they're trying to justify their action by digging their hole even deeper.
Even from a strictly PR/crisis management perspective, this is dumb. If you're going to admit a mistake, address it - that's the best choice. If you're going to proceed anyway, then don't admit fault and make yourself look like the numpties you are. What a total embarrassment.
Back to the American Dream for a second - work hard and your hard work will propel you forward. Add to this the basics of a free market economy; value will eventually be rewarded by market forces.
If I'm an actual terrorist group, I'm seizing on this story for its narrative-building and recruitment potential. Look, kids, you're not welcome in the US! They are corrupt, anti-us, and oppressive.
They don't want you. We want you - and your skills. Join our team, gain respect, skin in the game and your talents will definitely be put to use!
And that's just scratching the surface.
More evidence that the greatest threat isn't foreign trouble at our shores, but our own wilful ignorance.
Forgive 'em, lord...