The Ahmed Mohamed story: choose your side

Ahmed Mohamed, the kid who undertook a new crime called engineering while Muslim, is just 14.  Remember being 14?  For me, that was over 3 decades ago, but yeah, I remember it well.  A lot was going on during that time of my life, which is why it was memorable, and I was profoundly under equipped to deal with much of it.  At 14, one is still in that part of life where traumas promise to project themselves forward throughout a whole lifetime.  It is remarkable how careless we are with people this age; wounds opened up on tender flesh leave lasting and unsightly scars.

That’s why I winced when I saw that photo of this young boy — his ego not yet fully formed — standing in handcuffs, looking dazed while being abused by all the “grownups” standing around him.  From pride and excitement, his weanling spirit was tasked with the impossible: processing the sudden onset of adult anger, judgment, and wrath: in a word, injustice.

One’s opinion of this episode is going to be informed by one’s worldview and character.  Some people are concerned primarily with the well-being of Ahmed; others lash out against him; and others still try to find some excuse for school administrators’ and police officers’ assumptions and decisions.

President Obama picked his side when he tweeted that Ahmed would be welcomed at the White House.  And thank the fates for people like Barack Obama: people who see a child through the haze of controversy like a soldier with infrared gear.  His aim was only to help suture a tender wound and minimize the scarring, and that’s what he did.

If your concern is anything other than Obama’s (like the school administration’s well-being, the reputation of the police officers who opined that Ahmed looked the part of someone who’d have a “movie bomb” in tow, or your own interest in not being called a bigot or an islamophobe), then here’s something maybe you didn’t know about yourself: you’re a fucking dick.  Kind and decent people don’t think like you.

We make our choices in life when confronted with injustice: we can side with the knights or the villains.  Those who side with the knights are knights, and those who side with the villains are villains.

Anyone who hasn’t learned by now how to come down in a fight between raging adults and an innocent teenager should get his moral shit together.

by Brendan Beery


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