Remembering America as a melting pot
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed Muhamed, a student in Texas, was recently arrested for bringing a clock to school because it was suspected of being a bomb. When the story hit the national news it stirred up two essential questions: is this a situation where a physical bomb was endangering the lives of other students and faculty, or do race and religion play a part? In my opinion, it might just be the latter.
Ahmed was excited to go to school and impress his teachers with a handmade clock he worked on, but was appalled when sudden action was taken by his teacher to escort him with all of his belongings into a school resource room, or as he calls it – an interrogation room. It is disgusting to me that any 14-year-old should ever have to refer to a single room in his school as an interrogation room.
In this room, Ahmed was greeted by his school principal as well as five police officers. He had asked to call his parents but was denied the right to do so. Ahmed was told that he could not call them; he was in the middle of an interrogation.
Officers proceeded to ask him questions, and the process lasted about 25 minutes. He was asked questions such as, “Is this a bomb?” numerous times, to which Ahmed responded, “It’s a clock.”
But here are a few questions that I myself, as someone with a pretty good grip on common sense, have. So, what if it was a bomb? Why was the building not evacuated to keep other students and faculty safe? Why was the bomb squad not called? Why did they move the bomb? Better yet, why did they even touch it? They put Ahmed and the so called “bomb” in the same room while they waited for authorities to arrive.
Even more appalling, they put the bomb in the same car with the authorities.
A bomb should be reported and, only until after investigation and knowing for certain that it was safe, should not – under any circumstances – be touched, moved or tampered with in any way.
Why was standard bomb threat procedure not taken?
Why was this 14-year-old boy treated like a criminal? Why did this situation bring back to his memory instances of bullying when he was younger – name calling, being called a terrorist and a bomb maker. A 14-year-old boy was denied a simple phone call to his parents, interrogated and handcuffed; erroneously sickening.
According to census.gov, one in four children under the age of 18 have at least one foreign-born parent.
Being foreign-born and Muslim, if I brought a clock to class, would I have the same repercussions as Ahmed? I was welcomed to America with open arms. I live in a country that gives me many more opportunities than I would have ever dreamt to have and I am extraordinarily thankful for that. But why is it so rigorous for America – the land of the free – a land that is supposed to welcome all kinds of cultures, religions and ethnicities, to not generalize and stereotype certain people? America is referred to as the “melting pot” for a reason.
The truth is, nothing has been the same since 9/11, which is absolutely understandable, but it is time to take a good look at what is happening around us and who it is happening to. If we start to treat young children like this – like they are doing something wrong, like their ambition and hard work can be turned into something so horrific – how will they begin to perceive authority? How will they begin to perceive the world? Having an imagination is one of the best parts about being a kid, and kids should feel more than comfortable in being able to express it.
Perhaps the clock did look like a bomb, but why was it not treated like one? For me, one thing is certain: I stand with Ahmed.