Let us stipulate that Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Texas high school student who was the latest victim of public school cruelty, police incompetence, child abuse, and school-attack hysteria, resulting in an arrest for the Kafka crime of making a “hoax bomb”—that is, a thing that isn’t a bomb and the maker didn’t say was a bomb, but some idiot teacher thought looked like a bomb, and thus assuming it must have been intended to make idiot teachers think it was a bomb even though even the idiot teachers knew it wasn’t— deserves every kindness and compensatory trip, photo op, meeting and accolade imaginable as a societal apology for being treated like a mad bomber by unethical adults no more qualified to teach the young than they are to fly to Gibralta using their arms as wings.
…So do all the other teens (and younger) who have been treated this badly or worse in recent years—the kids punished for gun-shaped pizza and pastries….or the students who were punished after taking weapons away from fellow students and turning them over to teachers, only to find that they were the caught in the Catch 22 of “no tolerance” madness, seeded in part by the fear-mongering inflicted on our society by President Obama and his political allies.
Like Ahmed, Justin Carter particularly warranted high-level official mea culpas—remember him? He was another Texas teen who languished in jail for months because he made a joke on Facebook about school shootings. Nobody lifted a finger to help him, because, you see, he wasn’t one of the favored minorities to this administration. Don’t you dare argue that the distinction is that Justin made his “terroristic” comments in the context of a computer game, while Ahmed’s home-made clock was proof of special talents. Typical kids deserve fair treatment as much as budding geniuses.
In a 2013 post titled, If Only Justin Carter Were Black…Or Muslim…, I wrote
If Justin Carter were black or Muslim….
- …maybe the news media would take an interest in a Texas teenager being imprisoned and charged with a terrorist threat for an obvious joke on Facebook;
- …maybe progressive and civil rights organizations would question whether his prosecution was the result of an abuse of power by prosecutors, and fearful paranoia by the his community;
- …maybe pundit and commentator accusations of official bias against his race or religion would result in authorities questioning the wisdom of their actions and the cruelty of Justin’s persecution;
- …maybe professional activists and race-hucksters would use their influence to focus attention on his plight, the miscarriage of justice, and its dangerous implications for the rest of us;
- …maybe the ACLU would deem his case worthy of its intervention and support;
- ...maybe Al Sharpton would organize demonstrations protesting law enforcement ruining the life of an innocent young man because he was insufficient sensitive to irrational public fearfulness, instead of organizing protests against a jury’s just and unimpeachable acquittal of a defendant based on inadequate evidence to convict.
- …maybe the President of the United States would feel that his case was worthy of a lecture to the nation about the importance of free speech, and why fear of guns, violence and terrorism shouldn’t turn the U.S. into a censorious police state.
But unfortunately for Justin Carter and the First Amendment, he isn’t black or Muslim, so the serious criminal charges against him for daring to express himself remain, the news media has been silent on the case for more than a week, the ACLU ignores him, the President’s attentions and priorities remain elsewhere, and most of the public has never heard of him, or doesn’t give a damn.
Ah, but Ahmed is dark-skinned, and better yet, Muslim, so he is worthy of national attention. And he is worthy, of course, but so were the others. Thus this is, yet again, a double-standard nourished by the President, and a divisive one.
I wish I was correct every day as I was when I wrote that post.
Well, maybe I don’t.
Selective attention sends clear messages about biases and priorities. The message sent by the over-deification of one mistreated American teen while so many others have been treated just as unjustly with no official condemnation of their tormenters or support for them whatsoever is an ugly one. It is a message, however, we have been getting for seven long years.
Pointer: Several of you. Thanks.