On Friday night’s Real Time with Bill Maher, the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed for showing a science project to his teacher was a hot topic. The high school freshmen was turned in to police by his teachers when they became concerned that the homemade clock he had built might just be a bomb. The police, in turn, arrested the teen and interrogated him for allegedly building a “hoax bomb,” before finally releasing him and closing the case. Since then, there has been a huge social media outpouring in support of Ahmed, as well as a backlash.
Count host Bill Maher and guest Mark Cuban among those trying to justify the treatment of the world’s skinniest science nerd. You can view the entire segment here, but basically, Cuban is saying that Ahmed brought this on himself by not “engaging” with the sixth teacher who saw hos clock that day, and Maher is saying that even though the kid deserves an apology, the school and the cops were right to be suspicious because young Muslim men “blow shit up all over the world.”
We get it, Bill, it takes a special kind of bravery to be a liberal who slags Muslims, but what Mark Cuban is saying doesn’t even make racist sense. In the middle of the segment, Cuban tells the real story of Ahmed’s school day, that he heard from someone who heard something, and the upshot is that because Ahmed “didn’t engage” with the English teacher who asked him about the clock, it was Ahmed’s fault that everyone got legitimately spooked.
That’s actually not so far off from my own view, which is that you can’t be all that upset with a teacher for being concerned about the thing, especially since these are people who kick white kids out of school for having a pop tart. I can definitely imagine someone looking at that briefcase clock, and thinking maybe it was a bomb.
There’s just one problem with that, as even Cuban’s unreliable narrative demonstrates:
“Then he got to a point where one of the teachers, an English teacher, apparently, said ‘Look, you gotta put it in your backpack because it’s gonna make some people nervous, and it’s making me nervous.’ And, again secondhand, he wasn’t responsive to it at all. So it took six classes before anything happened.”
Now, I know that this was in Texas, but even those people have to know that a backpack doesn’t neutralize a bomb, don’t they? If the idea is that the teacher had legitimate cause for concern based solely on the fact that the clock looked like a bomb, or even if it was because a Muslim-looking kid had a clock that looked like a bomb, the fact that she told him to put it in his backpack definitively proves that nobody ever actually thought it was a bomb. Why, then, would it make anyone nervous, unless it is somehow intrinsically unnerving to see that particular kid with a briefcase clock that looks like it could be a bomb, but that you know actually isn’t one?
As for whether the kid “engaged” with his teacher or not, he seems very shy in interviews, and given the circumstances, it’s amazing he didn’t tell her to shove it up her creationism textbook. No matter how hard you try to come up with one, there is just no excuse for the way this kid was treated.