Deacon Ian Punnett –
As a general rule of thumb, I have noticed that whatever Bristol Palin is against, I am all about. The seemingly always outraged daughter of Sarah Palin goes ballistic about the weirdest things. Her screed against President Barack Obama for inviting 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed to the White House is the most recent example. To Bristol, Obama’s tweet to Ahmed to visit the White House after he was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school as a science project was a “childish game” that is “egging on” what she called “racial strife.”
By this, it seems, Bristol meant that either she can read the minds of minorities or, as a white person, she feels egged on to hate more because the president’s invitation just made Ahmed’s teachers and school district look worse. In Bristol’s mind, it was the president’s duty to sweep the story under the rug, and the kid with it. From where I sit, I thought Obama’s gesture was kind of a witty way to dissolve the tension around the ridiculous incident. This boy should never have been led away in handcuffs, paraded in front of his school. This was a case of adults failing this kid, not the other way around. The POTUS was right, “We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.”
Not surprisingly, MIT, Facebook and Google also think differently than the high school educated, poster child for ironic pregnancies-turned-blogger. Those organizations and others also invited Ahmed to tour their facilities and pick out a chair he might like to sit in someday. Contrary to Bristol’s claim, they were not trying to encourage “racial strife,” they were trying to encourage a kid who had been incriminated publicly with an “extreme hero makeover.”
As some Muslim friends of mine have suggested, should Ahmed or his parents have known better than to let a Muslim kid bring something to school that could be perceived by the paranoid as looking like a bomb? Maybe. I am not convinced that Islamophobia really enters into it this time (except maybe with Bristol). The same thing might have ended in my high school getting locked down, and that was the 1970s.
But I do know that based on the universally positive, almost loving reaction to Ahmed regardless of his religion, perhaps the country witnessed the making of a clock that not only gave the present time, it may be telling the future as well.