Confession: I was a consummate teacher's pet.
Call it "brown nose," "suck up," whatever - I was a great student who had great relationships with all my teachers. I still fail to see what is wrong with that, aside from the insipid taunts from other students who were not.
Part of that moniker meant that I loved - LOVED - sharing things I did with my teachers. One of my earliest elementary school memories is of writing a story in my free time that was so good my teacher shared it with the principal who called me to his office to tell me how much he had enjoyed it.
Seminal moment for a writing career? Who knows. I just knew that I wanted them to be proud of me, so sharing things done outside of class seemed pretty normal.
I continued that all through my years of education - bringing in homemade treats, crafts, more stories, etc. Seeking approval? Absolutely. Please explain to me how a teacher-student bond based on wanting to do well is wrong.
Never mind, my f**ked up state - Texas - just explained it to me this morning.
Meet Ahmed Mohamed, 14, of Irving, Texas.
Ahmed is a smart, driven, curious freshman who attends MacArthur High School. Two days ago, he brought a homemade clock into school with no other thought than wanting to impress his new engineering teacher with his electronic skills. He had truly enjoyed the robotics club in his middle school and hoped to find a similar one in his new high school.
Yes, that's right, Ahmed is a nerd. He loves tinkering at home making radios, repairing things, etc.
So in he walked, proud to show his accomplishment in making a clock out of a circuit board, wires, etc, inside a pencil box.
What happened next is just about as stereotypical, post 9/11, Texas as it can get.
The teacher told him, ‘That’s really nice. I would advise you not to show any other teachers."
Disappointed with the reaction, and a little confused, he put it in his backpack. Unfortunately it beeped during his English class, and the teacher, after being shown and told that it was a clock, said, "It looks like a bomb."
He assured her it was a clock. She assured him it looked like a bomb. He assured her again it was nothing more than a clock. She took it.
Fast forward to 6th period when the principal and a police officer pulled Ahmed from class and took him to the office where four other officers waited. Ahmed says an officer he’d never seen before leaned back in his chair and remarked: “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.” They then began interrogating him. And despite his repeated protestations that it was ONLY a clock, this is what they decided needed done:
Yes, handcuffs, police car, juvenile detention facility.
Those wonderfully enlightened minds in law enforcement decided that they knew better, that it looked like "a movie bomb," and that he was a danger. Police spokesman James McLellen said, "It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?”
Hmmmm, good question, Deputy Fife. Except he did not leave it in a bathroom or under a car. And no one took one moment to do some research on the kid, speak to his engineering teacher, or call his parents.
Adding the cherry on top of this Texas sized shit parfait, the principal suspended Ahmed for three days.
I swear, as dangerous as it is to be black and walking in this country, apparently it is just as dangerous to be brown and good at electronics.
And Allah forbid that brown person's name is Ahmed and he is Muslim.
Quick, call the Oath Keepers, the Jade Helm pants pissing brigade, and the crack team of open carry profilers who congregate at every Sonic in this state.
It's not surprising, especially in Irving. Travel back to earlier this summer when Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne earned the national spotlight and became an anti-Islamic group hero for giving numerous speeches in which she warned that the religious minority was plotting to usurp American laws.
Um, Beth, you must have Muslims confused with the oh-so-Christian Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee Club.
And so Ahmed and his law abiding parents learned the hard way that idiots and bigots - bigiots, if you will - run rampant in this state - emboldened by equally dim politicians.
The bigger lesson being learned, however, is by those very bigiots who seem to think they can behave this way in their little hamlets and not be found out.
Dear Bigiots, allow me to introduce you to the World Wide Web, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and all the other social media sites where you are basically trending as #AllAsshatNoCattle and #DumberThanTheShitITookThisMorning.
Yes, as is always the case - although folks like this never seem to learn from their equally ignorant brethren who go from unknown to infamous overnight - the story has been seen the world over. And while Texas' reputation for constantly being in the running against Florida for Most Embarrassing State is no secret, this certainly cemented that perhaps Florida needs to up its idiocy game.
(Please, pleeeeesse, Floriduh, don't take that as a challenge.)
Faced with the onslaught of public outcry over his department's less than stellar decision making skills, this morning Chief Larry Boyd held a press conference to let us all know that in an act of DUH benevolence, no charges would be filed against Ahmed. But not before he made sure to defend the actions taken against the scrawny, innocent nerd big, bad brown person.
The device, he said, was “certainly suspicious in nature. The student showed the device to a teacher, who was concerned that it was possibly the infrastructure for a bomb.”
As for the taking him in? Boyd said Ahmed was handcuffed “for his safety and for the safety of the officers.”
Give me a break. This poor kid was treated like shit because his name and skin color make small brains and little peepees shivel.
I am so tired of hearing the three most worthless words in our current vernacular: abundance of caution.
How about we try an abundance of common sense? An abundance of rationale? An abundance of not making sweeping generalizations just because we are too stupid to educate ourselves?
Again, I live here. Fear is as rampant as cow manure. Willful ignorance proliferates like the flies around the endless cow manure. It is shameful.
But there are bright sides to this episode of Mayberry RFD (Really F**king Desperate). Bigiots have again been publicly embarrassed and pilloried. And Ahmed now has the world on his side.
This young man who should be lauded for his curiosity, talents, and intelligence, while being encouraged to follow a STEM path, is being supported by the public-at-large, politicians, and business leaders.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg reached out in support, and he has received an invitation from the White House to bring that clock to them. His sisters started the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed and the support has been overwhelming - tweets, pictures, videos from around the world
But perhaps the best Tweet so far is from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
"Assumptions and fear don't keep us safe -- they hold us back. Ahmed, stay curious and keep building.”
Ahmed Tweeted this to his supporters this morning:
Ahmed, the world needs more Ahmeds, even if this country has a coalition of bigiots too stupid to understand that.
# I Stand With Ahmed.