When Ahmed Mohammed explained that the collection of circuits and wires he’d brought to school was nothing more than a clock, the police response was that “there was no broader explanation.” As if “It’s a clock” isn’t sufficient explanation. Well, it likely would have been if Ahmed Mohammed were named John Smith and were white.
What there’s no broader explanation for is why a bright, inquisitive kid was looked on as some kind of criminal for being excited about science.
What there’s no broader explanation for is why a school that’s supposed to be committed to encouraging curiosity and achievement saw only a threat.
What there’s no broader explanation for is why a police department was in such a hurry to slap a teenager in handcuffs because of the over-reaction of a bunch of supposedly responsible adults.
What there’s no broader explanation for is how an 14-year old kid turned out to be the smartest person in this whole story.
Now some people will say that because of 9/11, we have to be this suspicious. And they’re close. We don’t have to be this suspicious. We’ve chosen to be. We’ve twisted ourselves into paranoid knots, and in the process, done pretty much exactly what the terrorists wanted. Because terrorists don’t win by causing one day of horror that eventually passes. Terrorists win by making days of fear out of all the days that come after. They win by super-charging our fear to the point that we’re willing to amend, subvert and profane the very freedoms we claim they were out to attack. They win by scaring us into doing their job for them.
And so a smart kid with a science project gets looked at as a threat because he’s dark-skinned and has a funny name. And for far too many people, there’s no broader explanation needed than that.