Making a cake versus re-boxing a cake

The people who embraced the "Islamaphobia" narrative concerning Ahmed Mohamed do not seem to have a clue what several electronics experts who have examined his "homemade" clock are actually saying. For instance, James Vincent writes, "Ignoring the fact that it is fine to say you 'made' something even if you didn't smelt all the original materials (would you tell a child off for saying they made you a cake using ready-made cake mix?)..."

Nope. The contention being made – – and I don't know if it is true or not, but it at least seems plausible – – is that Ahmed simply cracked open an existing digital alarm clock and put its innards into a pencil box, and then brought the pencil box to school. This is not like making a cake from a ready-made mix and then saying that you made it; it is more like taking a cake out of the box the bakery put it in, putting it in your own box, and then saying that you made it.

And why would this be significant? Well, if that is what Ahmed did, then it looks quite possible that he (perhaps with parental prompting) was deliberately trolling school officials. I mean, he is a bright kid: he would know quite well that dumping the parts of an alarm clock into a different case did not constitute "inventing" a digital clock.

What?! Am I saying someone might deliberately get themselves in trouble, even arrested, for the sake of publicity? Well, if you don't think that's possible, let me introduce you to my friend Duke Riley, who deliberately trolled the New York Harbor Police, knowing quite well that his "artwork" would get him arrested (he wound up surrounded by machine-gun-bearing police boats and helicopters). As a result of his "sub moronic" stunt, he captured the full front page of the New York Post and New York Daily News on the same day.

Duke's career took off after this episode. And I know he felt that the paranoid anti-terrorism attitude prevalent in New York City since 9/11 needed some trolling. Perhaps Ahmed, or perhaps his dad, and perhaps you too, believe that the paranoid attitude about weapons in public schools deserves trolling. (E.g., another kid, who was white, by the way, was suspended for chewing a pop tart into the shape of a gun.) And I probably would agree with you here. But it does move Ahmed from the category of "unwitting victim" to that of "clever provocateur."

And what's more, it shows how tied people can get to their initial narrative about some news event. Vincent is far from the only proponent of the "Islamaphobia" narrative who does not even appear able to grok what this new claim about the clock means. I believe that is because they are just not interested: They have their narrative already, and they don't need any damned facts interfering with it.

(By the way, I am not even saying that prejudice against Muslims was not a cause or perhaps even the major cause of Ahmed's troubles. I don't know the people involved enough to have any idea what their attitudes towards Muslims are. I do know I have run across plenty of Americans who are rabidly anti-Muslim. I just don't think that this means that every single time something bad happens to a Muslim in America, that the cause is Islamaphobia.)


  1. Gene I was totally with you until you used the word "grok."

  2. This is well put Gene, and I am going to quote you.