It was a local story in my local paper, Wednesday’s Dallas Morning News. A skinny 14-year-old kid in his first year of high school proudly shows his teacher the digital clock he made at home from scratch. She’s afraid it looks like a bomb, confiscates it, and a short time later the police show up, handcuff the boy and cart him off to Juvenile Detention. The school suspends him for three days. Turns out the clock is just a clock. The boy vows he won’t return to that school. As a mother and human being, I think: what a sad story! But before the day is out, the tale’s gone viral thanks to social media, and the boy’s riding a magic carpet. Oh the places you will go, promised Dr. Seuss. President Obama tweets “cool clock” and invites him to the White House. FB’s Mark Zuckerberg wants to bring him out to his company for a tour. The boy’s offered a full scholarship by the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science alumni association to attend the school at the University of North Texas. And the list goes on.
We in the United States have witnessed too much deadly school violence committed by students: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech (it’s an injustice not to list them all, but far too depressing). It’s understandable that our teachers and administrators are nervous and more vigilant these days, but clearly, things got out of hand in Irving, Texas. “It made me feel like I wasn’t human,” the boy said, describing the police interrogation. A talented and impressionable fourteen year-old adolescent might have become embittered and disillusioned at the treatment he received. But then came #IStandWith Ahmed. For this, Social Media deserves an A+.