Ahmed Mohamed and his encounter with a bigoted, socially conservative Southern culture


AhmedMohamed&IvingPolice-2Ahmed Mohamed is a bright and resourceful 14-year-old inventor who has been keeping himself busy creating various electronic devices. Recently, he built an electronic clock, from scratch. He bragged about his latest creation to one of his teachers at MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas. The teacher dutifully asked Ahmed to bring the clock in to school to show off to his schoolmates.

Ahmed brought the clock to school, and the very same teacher – not bright enough to tell the difference between a clock and a bomb – detained Ahmed and summoned the Irving, Texas police.

The Irving police were so eager to hit the news headlines and be lauded for their counter-terrorism efforts that – without first looking at the clock and determining its nature – they promptly placed Ahmed in handcuffs and under arrest.

Ahmed’s arrest on suspicion of terrorism is a result of the bigoted, socially conservative culture of most people in Southern states of the union. Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans are especially vulnerable to Southern bigotry.

The height of this conservative bigotry was further demonstrated when neither the Irving police nor the teacher who caused his arrest or the MacArthur High School administration gave or offered to give Ahmed or his family an apology. Nor did anyone of those who humiliated and vilified Ahmed so much as suggest that the incident would never happen again, because to their thinking it may and it will.

Our country’s real problem is not only the possible existence of terrorists within and without our borders. Our country’s problems include those of us who are constantly on their toes fearing and suspecting their fellow countrymen and neighbors of being terrorists. America needs to rid itself of fear-mongers and ultra-right wing radicals who engender suspicion and hatred among our people.

Our worst enemy is bigotry and a socially conservative culture.

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About Julius Willis

A former Philippines newspaperman and businessman, Julius resettled in California, USA, where he simultaneously worked as an instructional and technical writer and engineering department manager and taught college for 26 years. Now retired, he serves as a member of the City of Hayward's Planning Commission, the Alameda County Housing & Community Development Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Board of CSU-East Bay's Center For Filipino Studies. He is also on Hayward's General Plan Task Force.
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