A few weeks ago at MacArthur High School, just about three miles from the University of Dallas, fourteen-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing a clock to school. Authorities claimed it was because the homemade clock looked like a bomb, but social media seems intent on throwing around accusations of racism and religious discrimination.
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is clear that society is growing ever more sensitive to matters of race, and rightly so. However, this mounting tension has also blinded our culture to larger matters at stake. Of course, any effort to end discrimination of all kinds is a worthy cause, but not every issue can be boiled down to such a simple idea.
In the case of Ahmed Mohamed, it is unwarranted, unfair and imprudent to immediately declare the situation a matter of discrimination.
Race relations and religious toleration are not the only issues causing tension in society today. After being bombarded with news about each of the several recent mass shootings, people are now more cautious than ever. I witnessed this effect firsthand after the movie theater shooting in my hometown of Lafayette, La. branded the community a victim of mass violence. In the wake of the event, an eavesdropper on almost any conversation around town would have overheard a general sense of shock, usually followed by a parent expressing a newfound resolution to never again bring the family to the movie theater. The next day there were police officers in all of the theaters in the area.
Stories like this have unfortunately become more commonplace in society, causing a general increase in caution and awareness in communities across the country.
For this reason, it is unfair to blame the MacArthur High School authorities for their caution. The simple fact is that the tangle of wires and numbers of Mohamed’s homemade clock did resemble the stereotypical image of an explosive device, and the color of the hands that carried it may not have been a factor.
Hypersensitivity to danger is a necessary virtue of police officers, and careless accusations over social media only incite hatred for the men and women who risk their lives to protect our own.
The response of the authorities at MacArthur High School was perhaps poorly informed and clumsily resolved, but it is reckless to dilute the situation down to a question of racism rather than recognizing that we live in a problematic society in which both charity and caution are necessary.
I sympathize with Ahmed Mohamed because I am sure it is not pleasant to be wrongfully accused of bringing a bomb to school.
However, I ultimately offer my thanks to the Irving Police Department, and all police departments in similar situations, for I am sure it is trying to attempt to do its job amid wrongful accusations of bigotry.