Blaming the victim: Ahmed the “hoaxer”

Ahmed Mohamed is a ninth-grader in Irving, Texas, who assembled a home-made electronic clock to impress his engineering teacher.  His English teacher thought the electronics assembly looked like a bomb.   Despite his attempts to explain, he was questioned by police, taken away in handcuffs and suspended from school for three days.

Ahmed Mohammed

Ahmed Mohamed

Do you think he was a victim of prejudice and injustice?  A lot of people who post on the Internet would disagree with you.  They say:

  • Ahmed Mohamed intended people to react the way they did, in order to get publicity and discredit people who hate Muslims.   He was a 14-year-old mastermind who knew the adults would react without thought or common sense.  He is to blame, not them.
  • Ahmed Mohamed’s dad, Mohamed El-Hassan Mohamed, is the leader of a small Sufi congregation.  When Florida pastor Terry Jones held a mock trial of the Koran in 2012, he appeared to defend it.  Being a high-profile Muslim is looking for trouble.
  • Ahmed Mohamed was not a genius, and his clock was nothing special.  It may have been reassembled out of a disassembled existing clock.  He does not deserve all the attention he is getting, which makes him a fraud.

This is typical of what happens when there is an uproar over apparent injustice to a member of a minority group.  Thousands of people counterattack by changing the issue from what happened to the character of the alleged victim.  They search the Internet for any information that can be used against the victim.

As Belle Waring remarked on the Crooked Timber web log:

Right, this hoax is designed to get Ahmed Mohamed reprimanded at school, then arrested, and then become an internet cause celèbré, and then get invited to the White House.

First of all, Ahmed and his family have to have judged the over/under for “young brown man thought armed with deadly weapon getting shot by the police” vs. “grievance-mongerer fêted by liberal elitists” a safe bet.  I, like, would not take those odds at all. 

Secondly, for this plan to work, the teachers and police officers have to act like morons all up and down the line.  There’s no other way.  Really, it has to be a Confederacy of Dunces down there.  Do these Clock Truthers realize their grim vision of Texan society is far, far more cynical than mine?

via Crooked Timber

Then there is the business about how Ahmed’s project really wasn’t an invention.  Critics say that all he did was disassemble some existing clock parts and put them back together again.

So what if he did?  That’s how people learn.  Almost every mechanical inventor began by taking things apart and putting them back together again—which not everybody can do successfully.  His clock wasn’t an entry in a science fair.  It was something he put together to show his teacher.

I read commentary on the Internet about how Ahmed’s fame and his invitation to the White House are unfair to all the hard-working white Christian high school students whose science projects have greater merit.

But that wasn’t why he was invited to the White House.  His invitation wasn’t a science prize.  It was President Obama’s way of sending a message about anti-Muslim bigotry.

Why do so many white Christian people get so upset when a black, brown or Muslim person gets sympathy for being a victim of injustice?

Do they think that sympathy is an attack on them for being white or Christian?  I don’t feel that way myself, but I’ve known people who do think that way.  It’s a mistake.  Being the same color or religion as a bad person doesn’t make you a bad person, no matter what your color or religion is.

Do they think that they are the real victims, and they should be getting the sympathy?  It’s true that being a white Christian American doesn’t shield you from injustice.  But treating brown Muslim Americans badly doesn’t help white Christians.  What matters is right vs. wrong, not white vs. black or Christian or humanist vs. Muslim.


Ahmed truthers are on a mission to prove his story was a hoax by Aamna Mohdin for

Nerds Rage Over Ahmed Mohamed’s Clock by Kate Briquelet for The Daily Beast

The clock kid: Ahmed Mohamed now at center of culture war rumble by Justin Wm. Moyer for The Washington Post.

All Makers Have to Start Somewhere, Including Ahmed Mohamed by Rafe Needleman for Make.

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2 Responses to “Blaming the victim: Ahmed the “hoaxer””

  1. williambearcat Says:

    Phil, your responses always make me feel better in that someone I know can react so sanely. I get so frustrated that I just want to give up and let the bastards ruin what is right and good about America. I got into a discussion with a Christian who insisted that Allah is not a name for god or that the Muslims have the same religious roots as Jews and Christians do.

    You can’t fix stupid.


  2. Holden Says:

    I think Ahmed was more a victim of the “Zero Tolerance” rule than any sort of prejudice. Stories of kids being carted off in handcuffs from schools is all too common among all demographics these days.

    Also- take note that the Irving Independent School District very racially diverse. That in itself doesn’t make it impossible that prejudice was in play, but it does mean that Ahmed wasn’t just another minority in a sea of white.


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