It was early Saturday — 12:26 a.m. Eastern time, to be exact — or, if former Alaska governor Sarah Palin were in the state she once ruled, Friday evening. But the onetime Republican vice presidential candidate had something on her mind. It was an issue her daughter Bristol had chimed in on a few days earlier — but one so vital that Mama Grizzly had to get her thoughts out, albeit a few days late.
Palin was thinking about Ahmed Mohamed, Muslim clock kid.
“Yep, believing that’s a clock in a school pencil box is like believing Barack Obama is ruling over the most transparent administration in history,” Palin wrote in a lengthy Facebook post condemning the “dangers of a reactionary-slash-biased media.” Palin said this press machine allegedly helped compel the White House to invite Ahmed, the Texas teen arrested for building a device thought to be a bomb until it turned out to be a clock, to Washington.
“President Obama’s practice of jumping in cases prematurely to interject himself as the cool savior, wanting so badly to attach himself to the issue-of-the-day, got old years ago,” Palin wrote. She added: “Right. That’s a clock, and I’m the Queen of England.”
For decades, liberals and conservatives have fought about states’ rights, government’s role in the economy and freedom of religion. Now they were fighting about whether or not a clock was a clock.
Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that Mohamed’s clock … well, it didn’t really look like a clock, as most people think of one most of the time. A clock evokes an image like this:
Bill Maher, perhaps, summed up the confusion about Ahmed’s clock best.
“The people at the school thought it might be a bomb, perhaps because it looks exactly like a f—ing bomb,” said Maher, a liberal not known for his moderate views on Islam.
Some technical types, seeking to explain what Ahmed had or had not produced in the absence of any detailed information outside of the teenager’s own account, muddied the waters further.
“Ahmed Mohamad [sic] did not invent, nor build a clock,” a widely circulated piece written in a Buffalo, N.Y., alt-weekly by Anthony DiPasquale, the alt-weekly’s webmaster. “He took apart an existing clock, and transplanted the guts into a pencil box, and claimed it was his own creation. It all seems really fishy to me.”
Evolutionary biologist, atheist and cranky skeptic Richard Dawkins also muscled his way in, decrying Ahmed’s arrest while wondering if there was more to the story than met the eye.
“If the reassembled components did something more than the original clock, that’s creative,” he tweeted. “If not, it looks like hoax.”
Jim Hansen of the oft-GOP affiliated Center for Security Policy said the device “looks exactly like a number of IED triggers that were produced by the Iranians and used to kill U.S. troops in the war in Iraq.” Even further: He said the clock “was half a bomb,” as the Intercept reported.
GQ rallied to Ahmed’s defense in the face of this charged technical description.
“Maybe a clock is half a bomb (really Makes You Think, doesn’t it) and the Irving police made the right call infringing on a 14-year-old kid’s civil liberties,” Chris Gayomali wrote. “But by that sort of bizarre logic, we would also have to include wingtips, iPhones, Androids, garden fertilizer, soap, rice cookers, Casio watches, atoms, triple-A batteries, tupperware, pipes, 40s of Mickeys, and firearms as similarly dangerous bomb components.”
Into this valley of ambiguity (Was the clock meant to look like a bomb? Was it Islamophobic to ask why it looked the way it looked?) leaped the cranks, the conspiracy theorists, the hashtaggers and the anti-hashtaggers. Sure, the clock had been seized by authorities — but why were there no images of it functioning? Why had no teacher offered a second-by-second account of how what seemed like a nonevent so quickly resulted in Ahmed’s arrest? And why was his father always running for president of Sudan?
No one knew, but it was time for a social media rumble. There were images like this one posted by those who “stood with Ahmed,” as Think Progress pointed out, also warning about “The Growing Smear Campaign Against Ahmed Mohamed.”
— Simran Jeet Singh (@SimranColumbia) September 16, 2015
“Liberals wasted no time turning this into their latest pet cause, as social justice warriors online immediately created a hashtag — #IStandWithAhmed — because you can’t rail and rage against the deeply rooted — and highly mythical — racism toward Muslims that was clearly expressed in this case without a hashtag,” ConservativeByte wrote. “Feel free to do a little eye roll.”
It was more than Rush could stand.
“Now everybody’s [sobbing], ‘Oh, my God, look what we’ve done! We’ve stigmatized poor Mohamed! Oh, my God, look at us! Oh, how horrible are we?'” Limbaugh said last week. “Mohamed got sent home, arrested. It’s been cleared up now, and the media’s putting out a picture of ‘what he took to school’ that isn’t what he took to school. Well, it’s not the whole thing. And the upshot is that Obama has now invited the kid to the White House.”
At least the conservative media, however, was no longer “ignoring” the story, as Mother Jones said.
“I realize that this kind of thing doesn’t interest conservatives much, but it’s such a blatant and stupid abuse of power that you’d think it would at least give them an opportunity to show that occasionally they care about obvious bigotry like this,” Kevin Drum wrote. “Plus they’d get to take a shot at a public school and its stupid overpaid administrators. What more do they want?”
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