Category Archives: Race

“It looks like a bomb.”

Ahmed's clock

Nearly everybody seems to say “It looks like a bomb.” Of course, I’m talking again — hopefully for the last time — about Ahmed Mohammed’s clock (above) that caused all the commotion recently.

Ahmed didn’t “invent” a clock. That seems clear enough. What was different about this clock that made him think he had invented something is not clear. Nevertheless, he was proud enough of it that he wanted to show it off to his engineering teacher.

Unfortunately, the alarm went off during English class, and the English teacher and Principal went bonkers. You’ll remember, I’m sure, that nobody thought it was a bomb. The boy was arrested and taken away in handcuffs because they thought it was a “hoax bomb.” They said it looks like a bomb!

suitcase bomb

Here’s a real suitcase bomb on the left and another on the right. See the difference?

These bombs have actual explosives, which you can see in both of them. Ahmed’s “hoax bomb” doesn’t have anything to explode. It’s just a tangle of wires and electronic elements.

Hackett Suitcase Bomb

I wonder what an actual hoax bomb clock would look like? Here are a couple I found on Google.

The clock on the left definitely looks like a bomb to me. It was meant to.

clock hoax bomb

The “hoax dynamite” explosive is just wooden dowel pins covered with brown paper and bound with electrical tape, but it looks real to me. This definitely looks like a bomb.

The clock on the right (below) is designed to look like a C4 bomb.

clock hoax bomb

The fake C4 plastic explosive is nothing but gray modeling clay, but it looks like a bomb.

Ahmed Mohammed has a reputation as a tinkerer and likes to think of himself as an “inventor.” His friends pay him actual money for some of his gadgets. So nobody should have been alarmed (no pun intended) when it dinged. This “model student” who had never been in trouble before brought his current project to school to show it off to people he thought would appreciate it.

Who would have thought so many supposedly intelligent, educated, and trained people would have thought it looks like a bomb? Who would have thought such an exceptionally bright and well behaved student would have been (mis)treated like a terrorist by people he trusted? People he thought were on his side?

Megyn Kelly Laughs at Guest Who Blames ‘Passive Aggressive’ Ahmed Mohamed for His Own Arrest

Here are both sides of the story, though a little short on facts. But that’s OK. We’ve already heard the facts about 17 zillion times in the past few days.

For some reason, Fox News brought in a lying racist who had already been thrown off the police force for racist comments and perjury to tell the school’s and cops’ side of the story. Then Megyn couldn’t keep from laughing at his dumb remarks. (For background, see here and here.)

A former police officer — who was booted off the force for racist comments and perjury — was on the receiving end of some mockery from Fox News host Megyn Kelly after he said that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was to blame for his arrest by Texas police because he was “passive aggressive.”


According to all reports, there was no passive aggression. There was no aggression of any kind. Everybody seems to agree that when he was asked about his gadget, he said it was a clock; but the cop said his answer was not reasonable. Go figure.

Megyn Kelly

This kid put a few scrap electronic parts together and made a digital clock. It wasn’t very neat, but it worked.

He was proud of what he had done, so he took it to school to show his engineering teacher. If I had been he, I would have done the same thing.

Ahmed MohamedHis confidence in his engineering teacher was evidently well placed. The teacher expressed his approval, but advised Ahmed not to show it to anybody else. Ahmed followed his advice and didn’t show the clock to anybody else until he was required to. But it beeped at an inopportune time.

His English teacher heard a beep, asked what it was, and demanded to see the clock. She said it looked like a bomb and notified the principal, who called the police, who came and arrested Ahmed and took him away in handcuffs.

Ahmed was described as a model student who had never been in trouble before. Do you think maybe somebody besides his engineering teacher should have thought maybe he was telling the truth?

Ahmed's clockSo okay, the English teacher thought it looked like a bomb. Here’s the alleged “hoax bomb.” Do you see any sticks of dynamite? Do you see any glob of clay that might have been an explosive? Me neither. All I see is a mess of wires and electronics stuff. Wires and electronic stuff don’t usually explode.

I guess maybe an English teacher — or some English teachers — just wouldn’t know. She had to use her best judgement. But Ahmed already had a reputation for building “crazy contraptions” like this.

Last year he attended Sam Houston middle school, where everyone knew him as the kid who makes crazy contraptions. His classmates brought him electronics to fix and even bought some of his gadgets. He had an identity. He was the Inventor Kid.

The Guardian

Don’t you think somebody should have known?

Big Ben bombAhmed didn’t invent the clock, as some have reported. Clocks were invented centuries ago. Electronic digital clocks were invented decades ago. But he built a clock, using a lot of wire. That’s all it was.

Nobody thought it was a bomb.  They said it looked like a “hoax bomb.”  There was no evacuation of the school. They just thought putting a really smart kid with the potential to accomplish a lot of good for our country in handcuffs it was a good idea. I disagree.

As I said before, I stand with Ahmed.


I Still Stand with Ahmed Mohamed

Fourteen-year-old MacArthur High School freshman Ahmed Mohamed, of Irving, Texas, just a few miles from where I live, is reputedly a model student who has been awarded a prize for his robotics studies and who (as far as I can determine) has never been in trouble before. Ahmed made the mistake of trusting his respected teachers to understand when he took a digital clock he had made from various electronic parts to school to show them. They didn’t. They thought it was a “hoax bomb.”

His hobbies are robotics and electronics, and he is good at them. How many 14-yo kids do you know who can create a digital clock out of a few scrap electronics parts? OK, how many 40-yo men or women do you known who could do it? I’d be proud, too. Understandably, so is his father.

Speaking at an afternoon news conference outside the family’s home, Ahmed’s father said he’s proud of his son and wowed by his skills.

“He fixed my phone, my car, my computer,” Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed said. “He is a very smart, brilliant kid.”

Dallas Morning News

Teacher betrayed Ahmed’s trust

His teacher confiscated the clock and contacted the principal, who called police. Ahmed was arrested, searched, and taken away in handcuffs. At the police station, he was interrogated, fingerprinted, and mug-shot before they would even let him call his parents.

The arresting officer later  claimed Ahmed had refused to answer their questions or tell them anything that made sense, even though everybody seems to agree he told them repeatedly the device was a clock, and not a bomb.

What’s maybe even harder to understand is that nobody even thought it was a bomb. They thought it was a pretend bomb. A “hoax bomb.” There were no lockdowns or evacuations, and Ahmed was released to his parents several hours later.

Pamela Geller chimes in

The odious and loathsome Pamela Geller, who habitually and intentionally does her best to stir up trouble between Muslims and non-Muslims, has predictably chimed in. She claims this whole thing was a “setup” to prepare for a big lawsuit, since the family has now retained a lawyer. How stupid can she be? I’d retain a lawyer, too. Then I’d sue the pants off of them.

She accused Ahmed’s father of being a trouble-maker,when he has apparently done nothing more than speak his opinion. As I am doing now. As  all Americans have a right to do. Including Muslim Americans. It’s called freedom of speech, and we all have it!

As if there were a connection, she mentioned the event in Garland, Texas, a few months ago, where two Islamic extremists were killed as they assaulted the hall with murderous intent. There is no reported evidence that either Ahmed or his father is an extremist, or that they have any violent or dangerous tendencies. She also neglected to mention that she herself had organized that event specifically for the purpose of badgering Muslims. It was a Mohammed cartoon-drawing contest,  shortly after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France. And wasn’t it held next door to a mosque? I think so. Talk about asking for trouble!

So does that justify attempted murder? Of course not. And the local Muslims gave her no trouble. The terrorists came in from out-of-state. They were clearly responsible for their own deaths at the hands of a local policeman.

Pamela Geller was within her legal rights to deliberately antagonize the local Muslims, but having a right doesn’t make it right. It makes her a bigot and a leader of bigots.

Governor Abbott chimes in

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said later that police were mistaken to arrest Ahmed. He added,

The last thing we want to do is put handcuffs on a kid unjustifiably. Just call this a tragic situation. It looks like the commitment to law enforcement may have gone too far and didn’t balance all the facts.

I agree completely, but I haven’t heard of any apologies from the guilty yet.

Obama and Clinton chime in

potus-tweetPresident Obama appropriately expressed his support for Ahmed and invited him to bring his clock to the White House. This is a wonderful gesture!

Hillary Clinton also tweeted her support, but very few other politicians seemed to have the nerve.

Ahmed Mohamed

Zero Tolerance rears its evil and destructve head

It’s easy to see this as pure racism, but Robby Soave at points out we’d be wrong. It’s probably true that racism was involved, but there’s also another reason for the actions taken by the government officials (teacher, principal, and cops). It’s called Zero Tolerance, and its a danger to kids of all races and religions, both genders and all grades, rich or poor, smart or mentally challenged, or whatever.

Zero tolerance means if a student even appears to do something against a rule, he or she can be punished for it. Guns are forbidden, obviously; but why does a kid get grilled for five hours and then suspended pending psychological evaluation just because he’s holding a pencil and the other kid behind him says he’s “making gun motions” with it? Don’t believe me? Ask this 13-yo Vermont student.

And then there’s 16-yo Alex Stone, a South Carolina student, who just wrote a story and said he had shot a dinosaur with a gun. A DINOSAUR! It was obviously fiction!

His assignment was to write a few paragraphs about himself, as if it were a Facebook status. He decided to fictionalize. “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business,” Stone said. Police were called and he also was arrested.


Even zero tolerance disproportionately affects students of color, so it isn’t an alternative to racism; it’s an add-on. It’s an evil, unfair thing designed to relieve teachers and administrators from having to think at the expense of their students; and it’s a danger to all American public school students, just as racism is for some. They must both be abolished.

But back to Ahmed’s case

At a joint press conference with Irving ISD, Chief Larry Boyd said the device — confiscated by an English teacher despite the teen’s insistence that it was a clock — was “certainly suspicious in nature.”

He repeatedly explained that he had made a digital clock, whose alarm just happened to ring at an inopportune time; but the cop thought he wasn’t giving them “reasonable” answers. What was he supposed to say?

School officers questioned Ahmed about the device and why Ahmed had brought it to school. Boyd said Ahmed was then handcuffed “for his safety and for the safety of the officers” and taken to a juvenile detention center. He was later released to his parents, Boyd said.

“The follow-up investigation revealed the device apparently was a homemade experiment, and there’s no evidence to support the perception he intended to create alarm,” Boyd said, describing the incident as a “naive accident.”

Asked if the teen’s religious beliefs factored into his arrest, Boyd said the reaction “would have been the same” under any circumstances.

Dallas Morning News

Maybe, but zero tolerance is no better than bigotry. It must be stopped, too.


I Stand With Ahmed

I tweeted my support for Ahmed Mohamed a few minutes ago. I do very little tweeting, so I hope I did it right.

Most of the time, I’m proud to say I’m a Texan. Sometimes I’m not so sure. I live just a few miles from where this travesty occurred. I’ll be posting more on this as soon as I can collect my information and write it up. Probably tomorrow.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio: America’s Toughest Sheriff

Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Sheriff Joe Arpaio

In 2012, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix and it’s surroundings), alleging widespread constitutional violations and lawless mistreatment of Latinos, solely because of their race. If these charges are true, this is not acceptable. Constitutional rights in this country are for everybody.

Among other things, he and his department were accused of the following things:

  1. Forcing Latina Women To Sleep In Their Own Menstrual Blood
  2. Assaulting Pregnant Latina Woman
  3. Stalking Latina Women
  4. Criminalizing Being A Latino
  5. Criminalizing Living Next To The Wrong People
  6. Ignoring Rape of Latina Women and Girls
  7. Widespread Use Of Racial Slurs
  8. Widespread Racial Profiling
  9. Random, Unlawful Detention Of Latinos
  10. Group Punishments For Latinos

You can  read the details at ThinkProgress.

That’s not all. “Sheriff Joe” retaliates.

In addition to this, the suit complained about “Arpaio’s practice of retaliating against critics and opponents, be they judges, prosecutors, politicians, or average citizens.” (Phoenix New Times) How Napoleonic can a desert sheriff be? That is absolutely, totally, completely, categorically unacceptable. No ifs and/or buts. A nation that allows law enforcement officials to retaliate against people who disagree with their tactics will not long remain a democracy.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had previously filed suit against him for some of the same practices. The two suits ran concurrently, but the ACLU got to court first, won their case, and got a court order requiring the violations to stop:

In 2013, U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow found Arpaio and the MCSO guilty of widespread racial profiling against Latinos and ordered a litany of reforms intended to prevent a recurrence of this civil rights disaster under Arpaio’s watch.

Phoenix New Times

MCSO is Arpaio’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The DOJ’s case is still pending, but they’ve already obtained additional judgement on the parts of their case that overlapped the ACLU case. I am no lawyer, but it seems likely they’ll win the rest of their complaint against Arpaio. The DOJ case is scheduled for August 10 and estimated to take 15 days. I’ll be watching from my recliner.

“Sheriff Joe” is tough.

This is the same “Sheriff Joe” who carried prisoners out into  the desert a few years ago and made them live in tents under the sun in 115º weather. Just to show he was tough.

He’s the same “Sheriff Joe” who took it upon himself to send deputies to Hawaii to investigate whether or not President Obama was actually born there and concluded his birth certificate “didn’t look right.”

He’s the same “Sheriff Joe” who was found guilty of racial profiling in federal court and had a monitor appointed to oversee his department’s operations. His jails have twice been ruled unconstitutional, and the DOJ has concluded that he oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history.

He’s the same “Sheriff Joe” who refused to cooperate with the DOJ’s investigation until required to do so by a Federal Court, and it’s estimated he’ll have spent $56 million dollars of the county’s money defending himself against these two lawsuits instead of just agreeing not to do these illegal things any more. (After all, it’s  not his money he’s spending.)

He styles himself “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” but he may be America’s most arrogant sheriff. He’s been re-elected every four years since 1992. I don’t know why. Maybe those folks have had their brains baked by the sun. (Remember the 115º afternoons?)

I’m not one who thinks life in jail should be comfortable, but it should be Constitutional. Neither do I oppose strict enforcement of the law; but it, too, should be Constitutional. I do oppose cruelty, illegal searches and arrests, and other violations of the Constitution. We are one nation under the Constitution of the United States of America. If that’s not true any more, American exceptionalism is obsolete.

Still more “Sheriff Joe”

Tomorrow, the first Sunday after nine black churchgoers were murdered by a white man in South Carolina, this bigot sheriff has vowed to send armed, volunteer posse members into each of 60 mainly black churches in the Phoenix area, whether they want the “protection” or not. And some of them don’t.

There might actually be a need for something like this; but I’m not sure I’d want a bunch of his armed, probably mostly white, open-carry fanatics guarding my clubhouse, either.

Sheriff Joe and any others like him must go. We can’t afford to have them in offices of authority.



Nothing to Apologize For?

I am getting old, but I’m not yet ready for a nursing home. So I live in a “senior living” complex, where I have my own studio apartment. I come and go as I please (Though not very often. Mostly, I stay at home.).

This place provides us with three really good meals a day, seven days a week, and a housekeeper to clean our apartments once a week. A lot more help is available for those who need it.

But (finally getting around to the point of this post) I sit back-to-back at meals with a very nice lady a little younger than myself at the next table, who immigrated from Japan a couple of decades ago. She is polite, friendly, helpful, educated, and has been a United States citizen for many years now, She was elected “Tenant of the Month” by her fellow tenants a few weeks ago.

I was a young boy when the World War II ended, and I have no direct memory of it. But I do remember the bomber planes constantly flying over our house. And there is one more thing. I knew Mom and Dad were going to get a new baby, but I didn’t exactly understand the process yet. I was afraid my new little brother or sister would be a “Jap,” and I certainly hoped not.

What I am trying to get around to is that knowing this American woman who happens to have come from Japan reminds me that, if she had been in the U.S. when the “big war” began, she would have been locked up for four years with thousands of other patriotic citizens of Japanese ancestry in a concentration camp until the war ended.

It is horrifying to me to think America committed such atrocities upon our own loyal citizens. Not just some time in the distant past, but during my own life. If they or their parents or grand-parents came from Japan, it was feared they MIGHT sympathize with Japan,which was then our enemy; so they were rounded up like cattle and kept penned until the war was over.

And you think our great nation has nothing to apologize for?

I read the claim from time to time that people get soooo very upset with President Obama because they say he apologizes for the United States. Well, I claim we owe apologies to a lot of people, beginning with many of our own citizens.

The United States of America is truly a great nation — in many respects the greatest nation that has ever been — but we are nowhere close to being perfect. We still have a lot of room for improvement.

Black Wall Street Journal Editor Speaks Out

“Let’s not pretend that our morgues and cemeteries are full of young black men because cops are shooting them. The reality is that it’s because other black people are shooting them, and we need to talk about black criminality. Blacks are only 13% of the population, but they’re 50% of  homicide victims in this country. And 90% of those are killed by other black people.”

Jason Riley, Editorial Board Member,  Wall Street Journal