Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bomb... Not A Bomb. Bomb... Not A Bomb. The Strange Case of Ahmed Mohamed and Paranoid Dominos

By now the entire world has heard about Ahmed Mohamed, the 14 year old high school student who brought a clock configured in a Vaultz Pencil box to MacArthur High School in Irving, Texas and all hell broke loose. The facts are sketchy but apparently Ahmed who aspires to be an engineer wanted to share his clock with his teacher.

According to the Dallas Morning News: "He showed it to his engineering teacher first thing Monday morning and didn't get quite the reaction he'd hoped for. Ahmed said, "He was like, "That's really nice. I would advise you not to show any other teachers."

Through the course of the day, the pencil box sat in his school bag until the alarm beeped in the middle of his English class. After the lesson Ahmed brought his contraption up to show his English teacher and she told him that "It looks like a bomb." Ahmed replied, "It doesn't look like a bomb to me." The teacher kept the clock and by sixth period Ahmed was summarily pulled out of class by the school's Principal and a Police Officer. And then, somehow this happened: (see pic)

How and why was Ahmed handcuffed and detained and how in the world did seemingly bright adult professionals throw logic and reason out the door. After the rash of school shootings and the recent Boston bombing you would of thought that all governmental agencies would be educated on what and what doesn't constitute a real concern.

A simple cursory view of Ahmed's clock doesn't look at all like a bomb. In the simplest of terms there is nothing inside the pencil case, no vessel at all to contain any type of explosive material. Nothing to go boom. Typically a terrorist's home-made bomb utilizes pipes to contain explosives (gun powder or match-heads). The pipe itself becomes the shrapnel.

Clearly, Ahmed's clock did not look like a bomb and, in reality, no one thought it looked like a bomb. Think about it. The Engineering Teacher knew it wasn't a bomb but seemed to think other teachers might not be as smart as he or she and mistake it for something sinister. Why did he not at that time bring the clock to the Principal and explain the situation? Now, consider the English teacher, she obviously did not think it was a bomb either or she wouldn't of confiscated it.  Clearly, the police, the principal, no one, absolutely not one person who viewed the clock and thought it looked like a bomb. The school was not evacuated, the bomb squad was not called. Was this the pompous case of each adult thinking that they were smart enough to not know it was a bomb but treating the rest of the staff like idiots?

At any point did one adult think to simply call Ahmed's parents as opposed to the Police?  If no one thought it was a bomb then who thought it was a bomb hoax. The devise was not presented in that way. If, for example, it was left by itself at the end of a hallway with empty pipes attached then, YES, it would look scary and would warrant calling the police. And, if that would of happened, I can assure you that the school would of been evacuated and the bomb squad called. From all reports I have read, it appears that no one even remotely thought that Ahmed was involved in any hoax at all.

So if none of these adult professionals thought it looked like a bomb and no one thought that a hoax was being perpetrated then why did it go down like it did. Maybe, someone or all of them thought Ahmed was creepy. Maybe he fit the prescribed stereotype for a bomber or hoaxer. Quite frankly, to me, he looks like who he is.... an aspiring engineer, a bookworm, a bit of a nerd.

I hope this is not what we have become. I hope this is simply a case of adult professionals over (and under) reacting and that (after much reflection) they will learn from their mistakes. Now, before you even ask the question: Was it wise for Ahmed to bring his contraption to his class?? Maybe, maybe not but remember, he innocently showed it to his Engineering Teacher and it was that teacher who pushed the first paranoid domino over.

Robb Donker

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