Thursday Reads: #IStandWithAhmedPosted: September 17, 2015
After the horror show that was the second Republican debate, we can at least celebrate the fact that massive numbers of Americans–and people all over the world–stand with Ahmed Mohamed after the disgraceful and humiliating treatment he received from his teachers, school administrators, and the Irving, TX police department.
The Dallas Morning News reports: Ahmed Mohamed swept up, ‘hoax bomb’ charges swept away as Irving teen’s story floods social media.
Irving’s police chief announced Wednesday that charges won’t be filed against Ahmed Mohamed, the MacArthur High School freshman arrested Monday after he brought what school officials and police described as a “hoax bomb” on campus.
At a joint press conference with Irving ISD, Chief Larry Boyd said the device — confiscated by an English teacher despite the teen’s insistence that it was a clock — was “certainly suspicious in nature.”
School officers questioned Ahmed about the device and why Ahmed had brought it to school. Boyd said Ahmed was then handcuffed “for his safety and for the safety of the officers” and taken to a juvenile detention center. He was later released to his parents, Boyd said.
“The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment, and there’s no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm,” Boyd said, describing the incident as a “naive accident.”
Asked if the teen’s religious beliefs factored into his arrest, Boyd said the reaction “would have been the same” under any circumstances.
“We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school,” he said. “Of course we’ve seen across our country horrific things happen, so we have to err on the side of caution.”
The chief touted the “outstanding relationship” he’s had with the Muslim community in Irving. He said he talked to members of the Muslim community this morning and plans to meet with Ahmed’s father later today.
Good luck with that, Chief. Ahmed’s family is already talking to lawyers about suing your department and the high school for damages. You should be ashamed.
Speaking at an afternoon news conference outside the family’s home, Ahmed’s father said he’s proud of his son and wowed by his skills.
“He fixed my phone, my car, my computer,” Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed said. “He is a very smart, brilliant kid.”
Mohamed said he’s lived in America for 30 years, but this was a new experience for him.
“That is not America,” Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed said of his son’s humiliation after being handcuffed in front of his classmates.
But Mohamed said he’s also been touched by the outpouring of support for his son.
“What is happening is touching the heart of everyone with children,” he said. “And that is America.”
Ahmed speaks at his family’s press conference.
From the sublime to the ridiculous, Irving, TX police chief tries to explain away his officers’ and MacArthur High School officials’ stupidity and racism.
The good news is that so far, Ahmed has been invited to visit the White House and to tour labs at M.I.T. and Harvard. He’s been invited to meet Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters and offered an internship at Twitter. He has been offered a scholarship to NASA’s Space Camp, and a tour of Mission Control. In Texas, he has been offered a lifetime membership in the Dallas Engineering Club and has been invited tour the telescope lab at UT Austin. There have been many more invitations and expressions of support.
Last night Ahmed was interviewed by Chris Hayes. Max Fisher wrote about the interview at Vox:
Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old boy who was arrested at school and accused of trying to make a bomb because he’d brought in a homemade clock, appeared on MSNBC for an interview with Chris Hayes on Wednesday night.
“I felt like I was a criminal, I felt like I was a terrorist, I felt like all the names I was called,” he said of the experience of being handcuffed, finger-printed, and interrogated by police. The treatment was not totally new: “In middle school I was called a terrorist, called a bomb-maker. Just because of my race and religion.”
Yes. That is what this intelligent and poised young man has had to deal with in his hometown.
Even for all he went through, Ahmed seems to have come out of the experience, amazingly, more optimistic about the world. When Hayes asked him what he thought about the outpouring of support, this was his answer, and it’s really something:
I feel really well after, because before I didn’t think I was going to get any support because I’m a Muslim boy. So I thought I was just going to be another victim of injustice. But thanks to all my supporters on social media, I got this far, thanks to you guys. I see it as a way of people sending a message to the rest of the world that just because something happens to you because of who you are, no matter what you do, people will always have your back.
The lesson that “people will always have your back” no matter what you look like is perhaps not the one that I might have taken had I gone through what Ahmed did. It is truly amazing to see him come out from this so optimistic about the world, willing to see the silver lining from his experiences rather than to be embittered by the many ways he was mistreated. It’s yet another lesson we could all stand to learn from him.
The entire video of Chris Hayes’ interview with Ahmed is posted at the All In website at MSNBC.
More links to explore:
Also from Max Fisher at Vox: It’s not just Ahmed Mohamed: anti-Muslim bigotry in America is out of control.
Chris Gayomali at GQ: Ahmed Mohamed Is a Goddamn Genius.
Ken White at Popehat: Willful Paranoia: The Classic Excuse for Willful Paranoia #IStandWithAhmed.
At CNN, a surprisingly excellent, detailed article about what happened to Ahmed: Muslim teen Ahmed Mohamed creates clock, shows teachers, gets arrested.
Amanda Taub at Vox: The message Ahmed Mohamed’s school just sent: creativity isn’t for Muslim kids.
Reactions to last night’s GOP debate
I thought this interview with Ronald Reagan’s sons was interesting. Although Ron Reagan is a liberal and Michael is a conservative, both men are sick and tired of Republicans who try to claim they are just like Ronald Reagan. (The interviews took place before last night’s debate.) Politico:
Ronald Reagan’s sons have one thing to say to Donald Trump: We knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was our father. And you’re no Ronald Reagan.
The conservative 40th president has been a touchstone in practically every presidential race since he left office, but this year, from Scott Walker’s fawning tweets to Jeb Bush’s custom T-shirt, Reagan fever seems to have reached a new high. And you can bet it will be a main feature of the debate tonight, at the Reagan Library in California.
But if you ask Reagan’s sons Ron and Michael, they’re not so keen on the comparisons. In two exclusive interviews (both published below), which span what the former president would think of the 16-strong Republican field (“I think he’d be kind of appalled”) to who’s most like Reagan (“Rick Perry. … They have the same hat size”) to what Reagan would think of Jeb Bush (“lacks charisma”), the sons of the former president both reject the idea that any Republican today really is the next Ronald Reagan. Plus, as Ron Reagan, a liberal political commentator, points out, “my father never went around comparing himself to someone else.”
Not only is the whole party “certainly getting him wrong as a Republican,” says Ron, the idea of comparing Trump to his father disgusts him. “I can’t think of two people who are more diametrically opposed. This egotistical, narcissistic guy with the weird comb over swanning in his private plane. … I mean, look in the mirror, fat boy. Look at that hair, you’re ridiculous! Where do you get off talking on anybody’s appearance? It’s just so unchivalrous. My father would recoil at that sort of thing.”
Michael Reagan, a conservative political strategist who hosted a talk radio program for 26 years, also questioned the idea that Republican candidates today are just like his father, especially Trump. “It’s interesting to see how many of them … recreate my father in their image and likeness instead of his,” he says. “Ronald Reagan would never take 11 million people or three million people or a million people and throw them out of the United States of America.” Plus, Michael says, talking about Reagan all the time is just bad strategy: “I have a 32 year-old daughter named Ashley. She knows who Ronald Reagan is, but name another 32 year old who does.”
And as for Donald Trump being the next Ronald Reagan? That’s ridiculous, says Michael. “To say what he said about Carly? … Is that the face we want for the Republican Party? If that’s the face, then the Democrats have to be going, ‘Go Donald!’”
Read the complete interviews at the Politico link above.
A few more debate reactions:
Chuck Todd and friends: Winners and Losers from Last Night’s Debate.
John Cassidy at The New Yorker: Carly Fiorina Tests Donald Trump’s Indestructibility.
Chicago Tribune: What happens if the new Donald Trump is just boring?
USA Today: Fact check: The second Republican debate.
That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?