Ahmed Mohamed’s Homemade clock
There have been many uproars regarding the police in the news recently, ranging from murder to homemade clocks. Ahmed Mohamed is a fourteen year old freshman attending a high school in Irving Texas. He had constructed a clock out of a pencil box, intending to impress his teacher. She took it in a drastically different way Ahmed had hoped, and the school contacted the police. He was arrested and told the reason was because he had committed the crime of creating a fake bomb. There is a picture of him leaving the school with the police officers, where he looks confused and upset. He was taken to the Irving police station and questioned by Irving Police spokesman Officer James McClellan. According to CNN, McClellan told the station, “We attempted to question the juvenile about what it was and he would simply only tell us that it was a clock.” The confusion garnered much attention from political figures and celebrities. Ahmed received and invite to the White House through a tweet from President Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg told Ahmed to visit Facebook sometime. It seems like an unfortunate misunderstanding, but there are more accusations arising from the incident.
As if the fact that he got arrested and questioned wasn’t enough, accusations revolving around whether or not the clock is actually “homemade” have occurred. Experts are stating that it seems to be a disassembled RadioShack clock stuffed into a metal box. Richard Dawkins, a famed evolutionary biologist joined the controversy, posting a video on his twitter page. The Youtube video stars electrical expert Thomas Talbot, which closely scrutinizes the clock. Dawkins followed up with tweet that stated, “If he’s right, Ahmed didn’t build it. Assembling a clock from bought components is fine, taking clock out of it’s case to make it look as if he built it is not fine. Which is true?” Electrical expert Talbot explains in his video that features of the clock such as printed circuit boards and ribbon cables are indicative of a manufactured product, he explained. These accusations are being taken seriously by many celebrities and engineers around the world. I personally am confused why it matters if he built it or just re-constructed it. Ahmed has been through an arrest and humiliation in front of his peers and the world, and now people are trying to shame him even more? I am struggling with why the “controversy” is being pursued.
A news article that struck me as interesting revolved around famed talk show host Bill Maher. The title reads “Bill Maher says there’s a ‘lack of perspective’ on Ahmed Mohamed. He discussed the topic with other panelists and stated, “And the people at the school thought it might be a bomb, perhaps because it looks exactly like a f–king bomb!” He also stated, “this kid deserves an apology, no doubt about it, but can we have a little perspective on this? Did the teacher really do anything wrong?” After hearing his point of view and taking another look at the “clock”, I honestly have to agree with Maher. It doesn’t clearly look like a clock, and the wires and circuits can mislead someone to believe it is something different. Maher puts the fault on history. Maher is not saying this due to racism, as he stated “It’s not the color of his skin. Excuse me, somebody look me in the eye right here and tell me. Over the last 30 years, if so many young Muslim men … and he’s young, 14, but that’s not like it’s never happened before, hasn’t blown a lot of s—t up around the world. And this guy, this kid deserves an apology, because he wasn’t one of them… For the last 30 years, it’s been one culture that has been been blowing s—t up over and over again.” His defense of the teacher seems to be one of the few voices who have “Not stood with Ahmed.” Is it out of fear? Are people fearing the thought of being accused of being racist just for agreeing with what the teacher did? One of the main jobs of a teacher is to keep the kids safe, and I feel like the teacher was caught off guard and her reaction was to be safe.
Ahmed has been through a lot recently. With a seemingly innocent attempt at impressing a teacher, it left him on the front page of CNN. The confusion has garnered positive and negative attention from those who support the 14 year old, and those who don’t. I believe Ahmed had good intentions and I hope this does not put a damper on his scientific explorations.