Let me tell you a little bit about Irving, Texas. Its mayor, Beth Van Duyne, recently and famously championed a law that would prevent area Muslims from imposing Sharia law — as if such a thing were anything more than a phantom threat fixated on by reactionary paranoiacs. She’s considered a “hero among a fringe movement that believes Muslims… are plotting to take over American culture and courts,” according to the Dallas Morning News, an attribution that’s important because Irving isn’t some backwater ‘burg in the middle of Texas’s vast expanse of nowhere; it’s actually a suburb of Dallas, which itself is just a few hours outside of Bastrop, County where for the past few months locals have been losing their collective shit over routine military exercises they swear are really a prelude to an armed takeover of Texas by the government.
The exercises, known as Jade Helm 15, just wrapped up, by the way — obviously, Texas remains completely free to be the giant black hole in the middle of the U.S. that it’s always been, the one from which no IQ points can escape.
But that’s kind of the point I’m making here: Texas is the most dangerously dumb place in America, the state that’s given us Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert and Steve Stockman; the state that gave us the crazy judge who promised to fight off President Obama’s U.N. troop invasion and the equally crazy sheriff who claimed ISIS militants were crossing into the U.S. from Mexico; the state that threatens to secede from the union every election cycle. If the U.S. is fast becoming the Rome of idiocy worldwide, Texas is the Vatican.
With that in mind it’s probably not a surprise that Irving, Texas arrested a 14-year-old Muslim kid named Ahmed Mohamed for the unthinkable crime of bringing a clock to school. If you’re anywhere on social media today you probably already know the story: Mohamed is a skinny, bespectacled, budding engineer who in the past has created homemade radios and Bluetooth speakers and who came to school today in a NASA t-shirt that hung off his thin frame like it was a dress. But since Mohamed comes from a Muslim family — and remember the attitude toward Muslims the city of Irving has long fostered — he was immediately suspect when he also came to school today with a digital clock he’d constructed himself. He showed the clock to his teacher after it beeped in class and the next thing he knew he was in the principal’s office with five fucking Irving cops who quickly cuffed him and placed him under arrest. To recap: he brought a clock to school. It wasn’t a clock specifically made to look like a bomb. He didn’t threaten anybody with this clock. I was a clock. Nothing more.
There’s an argument to be made that the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed fits neatly within the troubling new normal that sees innocent kids dumped into the justice system or otherwise disciplined for benign offenses like wearing NRA t-shirts to school or making gun shapes out of Pop Tarts, but considering where this happened and who Mohamed is, this case cuts a little deeper. Mohamed didn’t even bring something that advertised guns or which looked like a gun — but wasn’t a gun — to school. He was bright enough to make his own clock and he took that to the place where, one would think, his abilities and intelligence would be most appreciated. But then — Texas. Sure, a metal case with a digital clock in it might be suspect, no matter who you are, but there’s little doubt that Mohamed’s background and religion played a substantial role in the school administration’s unwillingness to accept that what was in that briefcase was just a clock and nothing more — leading to a three-day suspension — and the police department’s intransigence in placing a 14-year-old nerd under arrest.
If you want to read one of the most offensively imperious and condescending memos ever to spill out of the office printer of a power-mad suburban authority figure, check out the self-congratulatory statement MacArthur High School Principal Dan Cummings released in response to the incident involving Ahmed Mohamed. After acknowledging that what Mohamed brought to school wasn’t the least bit dangerous, Cummings attempts to dodge accountability for this farce by writing, “I recommend using this opportunity to talk with your child about the Student Code of Conduct and specifically not bringing items to school that are prohibited. Also, this is a good time to remind your child how important it is to immediately report any suspicious items and/or suspicious behavior they observe to any school employee so we can address it right away. We will always take necessary precautions to protect our students.” Right. Except for the fact that what Mohamed brought to class wasn’t prohibited and there was nothing suspicious to report, you fucking hack.
Thankfully, the nation has rallied around Mohamed, proclaiming him a kid whose intellect and ingenuity deserves to be encouraged, not looked upon with suspicion by wild-eyed yokels. President Obama, figuratively bitch slapping both the Irving Independent School District and the town’s police department, even invited Mohamed to the White House in a tweet that’s been retweeted more almost 250,000 times. The kid deserves it. He deserves the positive attention and general goodwill — the hero status even — that a lot of the American public seems to be heaping on him right now. Because God fucking knows he got crapped all over by the ignorant assholes in positions of authority in Irving, Texas. Which should surprise absolutely no one. After all — it’s Texas.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.