Wednesday, September 16, 2015


My reaction to the story of Ahmed Mohamed is probably not quite the same as yours, though I think the persistent suspicion of him by the authorities was uncalled for:
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.

Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed’s circuit-stuffed pencil case.

So the 14-year-old missed the student council meeting and took a trip in handcuffs to juvenile detention. 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....
In the post-Columbine era, I don't think it's insane for school authorities and cops to worry about a high school kid carrying a device with wires and a timer -- but I hope that would be true of a kid of any ethnicity. Remember, the Columbine killers saw their plot as primarily a bomb plot:
In fact, the pair's suicidal attack was planned as a grand -- if badly implemented -- terrorist bombing that quickly devolved into a 49-minute shooting rampage when the bombs [Eric] Harris built fizzled.

"He was so bad at wiring those bombs, apparently they weren't even close to working," says Dave Cullen, author of Columbine ....
What would the authorities in Irving, Texas, have done if a white kid had brought this device in? If they'd been suspicious, I'd understand that. Here's what it looked like:

But I suspect that the authorities would believe a white kid if he said he was just a nerd who liked to build stuff, as Mohamed did.

Cops say they get it now. They thought it might be a "hoax bomb" -- something resembling a bomb that Mohamed might have planted in order to scare people -- but they now plan to file no charges, and they've closed the case. However, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton at John Hawkins' Right Wing News isn't buying the official story, no sirree...
I believe the kid’s father and CAIR put him up to this to set up the school, the police and the city of Irving for a lawsuit. It’s called ‘lawfare.’ ...

Kids don’t do something like this spontaneously. Certainly not in this climate of fear we have now. They get permission beforehand. A smart kid like this would know that. His father periodically returns to Sudan to run for the presidency there. He has railed against the pastor in Florida who burns Qurans.... This looks contrived and implemented to me. Islamists and CAIR are infamous for pulling these stunts. Save your sympathy for a kid who deserves it. Ahmed is not one of them. If his name had been McVey, the reaction from the media would have been totally different. But because he is Muslim, the howling begins. A bunch of circuitry in a pencil box with a digital display and an alarm -- sounds like a probe of the school and of the law to me.
Oh, right: In a country where non-whites who run afoul of the cops not infrequently wind up dead -- even kids who are younger than Mohamed, like Tamir Rice -- you're going to deploy your kid to "probe" the defenses of a suburban high school in this way, on behalf of jihad? That's the parsimonious explanation of this, not the fact that the kid is a proud and enthusiastic geek?

It's true the story of Mohamed's father is a bit odd:
... Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, ... immigrated from Sudan and occasionally returns there to run for president....

Mohamed is familiar with anti-Islamic politics. He once made national headlines for debating a Florida pastor who burned a Quran.
But the father just seems like a mildly eccentric guy who gets it into his head to take on big causes despite not being a prominent community figure, as The Washington Post noted at time of his debate with Quran burner Terry Jones:
When the Rev. Terry Jones was preparing to put the Koran on trial last month, his supporters could find only one Muslim willing to take part in the bizarre proceeding, which ended with the holy text being set ablaze.

Mohamed Elhassan, a 50-year-old computer store owner who leads a tiny Sufi congregation in Irving, Tex., readily agreed to defend the Koran. He’d debated Islam with Jones’s supporters before and wasn’t put off by the prospect of interacting with Jones himself, though he knew that the pastor had threatened to burn the Koran in September.

“I thought it would help other Muslims, other Christians and Terry Jones himself. I thought we were just going to discuss the Koran. That’s why I went there,” Elhassan said....

Elhassan, a native of the Sudan who is now an American citizen, likes to call himself a sheik. He wears a cleric’s flowing white robes and claims hundreds of followers throughout Egypt, Sudan and in the United States.

But he is unknown as a scholar or holy man in the state he has called home for two decades. Religious leaders in Texas say they have never heard of Elhassan, including the imam at the mosque where he worships.

“This so-called leader, we have never heard of this person,” said Imam Zia ul Haque Sheikh, the head of the Islamic Center of Irving. “I believe the whole thing is made up.”

Elhassan has only a handful of followers who chant with him on Saturdays and Sundays at a small prayer center, located in a strip mall, that he founded in 2001 for other Sufi Muslims -- a sect that embraces mysticism and a personal relationship with God.

Elhassan has sought the spotlight before. Last year he declared himself a candidate for the president of Sudan, but never made it onto the official ballot.
Here's a campaign video. He hardly seems like a fire-breather:

After his debate with Jones, the Dallas Observer wrote,
He says he has serious issues with the hardline, traditional readings of the text, and he's writing a book about his reading of the Koran -- with working titles like Jesus Among Us With the Quran, or The New Understanding of the Quran.
He was called a "useful idiot" by the website The American Muslim just for agreeing to be Jones's sparring partner (and, at another time, for debating Muslim-hater Robert Spencer). Oh, but did I mention the fact that he combined his trip to Jones's church with a family trip to Disney World?
He said he agreed to serve as the defense attorney at Jones’s mock trial because the Koran teaches that Muslims should engage in peaceful dialogue with Christians.

But there was also a more pragmatic reason. It was spring break and he wanted to take his wife and five kids to Disney World -- to “kill two birds with one stone,” as he put it.

The family enjoyed their trip to the Magic Kingdom, but on the appointed day when their minivan drew close to the church, Elhassan’s heart filled with trepidation.

“I said to myself, ‘It doesn’t matter, I’m not going to back down,’ ” Elhassan recalled. “All I wanted to do is give a message to Mr. Terry Jones that the holy Koran is a good book.”
And here's the bio from the campaign site he put up during his unsuccessful quest for Sudan's presidency, as preserved by the Internet Archive. It says in part:
He is a passionate and sometimes amusing speaker of wisdom, logic and the realities of modern-day life. He possesses a deep insight into the causes of things and is dedicated to his principles.

... He has lived in the United States for over 20 years in good standing and has no history of moral turpitude.
Let's see: Dad is a slightly dotty but loving immigrant who has a philosophy degree from Khartoum University, then came to America and worked as a hot dog vendor and pizza delivery man before setting up a small business -- all the while regarding himself as a great philosopher and important man. His son immerses himself in the world of gadgets. In the days before young-adult novels were all about werewolves, dystopias, and/or the Apocalypse, weren't there a lot of books like this for middle schoolers and teens? If you took Islam out of the equation, couldn't this book have come out anytime in the past few decades, and been about a kid from any ethnicity? And wouldn't you be rooting for the kid to make the greatest invention ever?


Jim Snyder said...

Looks a bit like the kit DVM I built in the 70s on a lark. I was just out of grad school and working at Bell Labs. You wouldn't happen to remember Heathkits, I s'pose.

Lawrence said...

" Certainly not in this climate of fear we have now. "
Wrong, you stupid, racist asshole, because only you people live in the Climate Of Fear. And if it's a bomb, where are the explosives? If it's a fake bomb meant to scare people where are the road flares (fake TNT), or the gray modeling clay (fake C4), or the orange play dough (fake symtex)? Don't teachers go to college, and read the news? You can't watch American TV and movies and not know what a bomb looks like. Surely the idiot cops know what a bomb looks like.

Ken_L said...

Ahmed's dad's story has a lot in common with that hero of the extremist right, Rafael Cruz senior.