Irving, Texas, ninth-grader Ahmed Muhamed brought a harmless, homemade clock to school to impress his engineering teacher. But he made more of an impression on the police officers who slapped him in handcuffs, hauled him to the station, and accused him of perpetrating a bomb hoax.
As evidenced by Twitter—#IStandWithAhmed—everybody is on Ahmed’s side (with the possible exception of his school’s officials, who sent a letter home to parents alerting them to the non-incident). Even President Obama tweeted, “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.” His message was retweeted 200,000 times in the past three hours.
I stand with Ahmed, too. But I also stand with Alex Stone.
Who is Alex Stone? He’s the South Carolina 16-year-old who was arrested and suspended last year for writing a purely fictional story about a dinosaur in which he killed the prehistoric beast with a gun. Stone was a white kid.
I bring up his race for one reason, and one reason only: Some are suggesting that Ahmed’s race is the only reason he was treated so badly. This is the obvious, inescapable conclusion, according to many left-leaning pundits: school officials identified a kid with an Islamic-sounding name, saw him carting around a device he had built, and cried terrorist!
Mic’s Jon Levine called the incident “anti-Muslim bigotry” and “hypocrisy,” and implied that white kids routinely get away with far worse behavior. Vox’s Zack Beauchamp put it this way:
It’s hard to see this as anything but blatant, naked Islamophobia: Police surely would not have hauled off a white kid because of a clock.
This is a popular sentiment on Twitter right now—popular, but dead wrong.
White kids are disciplined—and yes, arrested—for mild misbehavior in schools all the time. It literally happens every day. It happens to white kids. It happens to black kids. It happens to boys and girls, preschoolers and teenagers, athletes and eggheads, wealthy and poor, gay and straight, religious and atheists; it happens all the time, to young people of all stripes.