Why conservatives believe they're the real victims in the Ahmed Mohamed case
Look out, Ahmed. They're coming for you.
I speak of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old gadget geek from Texas who found himself propelled to national renown when he was arrested for bringing to school a clock he had built to show his teacher. At a time when Islamophobia is becoming a hot topic in the Republican presidential race — with Donald Trump getting flak for not correcting a man who told him that Barack Obama is a Muslim, and Ben Carson saying that no Muslim should be elected president — at least some on the right are trying to make an example of this kid.
I suppose they couldn't help themselves, once he got so much attention and so much love from liberals. It's easy to see why liberals would be attracted to Ahmed's story, because it highlights both the perils of racial profiling and the absurdity of "zero tolerance" school policies. That's despite the fact that there are plenty of conservatives who agree that zero tolerance, a standard usually applied to drugs, is ridiculous. But once you see Obama inviting this kid to the White House, how can you let it stand?
So conservatives quickly got on the case to try to prove that there was something fishy about Ahmed's story, or about his clock, or about something or other. Rush Limbaugh told his audience that while the clock totally looked like a bomb and therefore the school reacted in an expected way, the whole thing was just an excuse for liberals to make phony accusations of Islamophobia. Sarah Palin still refuses to believe that Ahmed's clock isn't an explosive device ("Right. That's a clock, and I'm the queen of England"). Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration official who now heads the notoriously Islamophobic Center for Security Policy, tweeted out a picture of what was supposedly Ahmed's clock (it actually wasn't) alongside what looks like a stock photo purporting to be a bomb, with the caption, "Can u tell the difference? #Ahmed's Clock or a Bomb Trigger?" Actually, you can — unless you think that anything that contains both a circuit board and wires is a bomb. You probably have 20 things in your home that contain a circuit board and wires.
I wouldn't be surprised if right now, there's a conservative blogger trying to dig up dirt on Ahmed and his family. It's happened before — you might remember the tale of Graeme Frost, a 12-year-old kid who gave a radio address for Democrats in 2007, advocating for the Children's Health Insurance Program that had helped his family after he and his sister were injured in a car accident. Prominent blogger Michelle Malkin actually traveled to Baltimore and went snooping around the Frosts' house in an effort to prove that they could have afforded their own health care, because who is some punk kid to think he can get away with advocating for a cause?
If liberals are going to make a hero out of Ahmed Mohamed, the thinking goes, then it's obviously worth investing time and effort into taking him down. But what really matters, to hear conservatives tell it, is that Ahmed's case is just one more episode in their own sad tale of oppression.
Just as they will assure you that the only real racism that exists in America today is white people being unfairly accused of being racist, their version of the Ahmed Mohamed story is one in which bravely vigilant school officials act to protect the children in their care, then are unfairly accused of being Islamophobes, as are those who would defend them. Ahmed's skin color and his name had absolutely nothing to do with the officials reacting as they did, and it was his fault for not realizing that a box containing wires would of course be suspected of being a bomb. No, the real story is about how dastardly liberals use episodes like this one to keep down conservatives who would speak the truth about the threat of Islamic terrorism, whether it comes from shadowy foreign organizations or 14-year-olds who want to grow up to work for NASA.
Now of course, it's possible that the teachers and administrators would have freaked out and had a white kid who brought the same device to school arrested. Anything's possible, even if the town has a history of anti-Islamic feeling and the mayor is a crusader for the fantasy that "sharia law" is coming to Texas and must be stamped out. We'll never know exactly what was in their minds, just as we'll never know whether this was all a big plot to get Ahmed close to the president so he could take him out.
We can't know. But some folks on the right are going to check it out, just to be sure.