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True fact: Nerdy smiles started as a prison fashion, like saggy pants


You might think that the rightwing attempt to demonize Ahmed Mohamed, the kid who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to his high school in Irving, Texas, might have died down by now. But then you would be misunderestimating a rightwing blogosphere that's convinced Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton personally murdered 4 Americans with a YouTube video in Benghazi. Among the latest -- and least coherent -- attacks on Ahmed is this dumb hit piece at Dead Breitbart's Home For Easily Frightened Old White People, which takes a nice little backgrounder from the Dallas Morning News and twists it into a portrait of a determined troublemaker with a HUGE disciplinary file. Or maybe he was just a kid who got trapped by "liberal" zero-tolerance policies -- the writer, Merrill Hope, seems unsure herself what set of talking points she's aligned with. The only thing Hope is certain of is that there was no bigotry at work in Irving, nope nope nope. It's a pretty impressive bit of stupid, we'll give it that much.

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Just for the sake of a good read, we would recommend the Dallas Morning News piece by Avi Selk, the reporter who initially broke Ahmed's story. Selk talks to Ralph Kubiak, Ahmed's 7th-grade history teacher at Sam Houston Middle School, now retired, who fondly recalls Ahmed as "a weird little kid":

“I saw a lot of him in me. That thirst for knowledge … he’s one of those kids that could either be CEO of a company or head of a gang.”

Kubiak himself sounds like the kind of middle-school teacher nerd kids would have gravitated to; Selk portrays Kubiak as a genial hippie teacher who

wanted his students -- 4 out of 5 at Sam Houston are considered poor by the state -- to question the world and its expectations of them. Not to let adults control them.

Kubiak recalled that when Ahmed started sixth grade, he knew practically no English, but rapidly picked up the language and by the time he was in Kubiak's class, he was fluent enough to articulately discuss politics and religion:

“He was secure enough in his religion to look at the other side,” Kubiak said. The teacher remembered talking about the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, agreeing with Ahmed that they twisted Muslim scripture to control ignorant people.

“I said, ‘Don’t they read their own Quran?’ Kubiak recalled. “He said, ‘A lot of folks don’t.’”

Like a lot of bright middle-school kids, Ahmed was a prankster: he rigged up a remote control from home (which he probably modified but didn't build from scratch!!!!!!) to clandestinely turn a projector on and off during class. And like lots of bright kids, he was also a motormouth who had difficulty not over-participating in class.

“I love him dearly, but sometimes it got to be a little much,” Kubiak agreed. “He just went on and on.”

Kubiak...said he chided Ahmed after hearing that the boy tried to get out of detention by reciting the First Amendment in the principal’s office.

“That was genius, son,” Kubiak recalled saying sarcastically. “What did she do?”

“He said, ‘She gave me Saturday detention.’”

Over at Breitbart, we get a slightly different take on Ahmed's smart-kid misbehavior:

Retired, Kubiak admits a fondness for Mohamed yet dubbed him a “weird little kid” who could either wind up the CEO of a company or “head of a gang.” Kubiak recalls a chatty budding clockmeister. “He just went on and on.” Mohamed learned English as a second language while in middle school. Kubiak said once Mohamed mastered it, “he had a habit of overusing it — trying to impress classmates with a nonstop stream of chatter, teachers said, and often annoying them instead.”

Just for the sake of accuracy, that last passage in quotes is Selk, the reporter, not anything that Kubiak said. Hope also played up this tidbit:

"While [Mohamed’s] discipline record is confidential and his father didn’t want to discuss it, the file was thick by some accounts,” the Dallas Morning News noted. The Sudanese-American sensation du jour said he was suspended for several weeks during sixth grade.

Hope ominously notes that a friend of the Mohamed family, Anthony Bond, is a "vocal Irving activist" and "founder of the local NAACP" who accused the school of overreacting when Ahmed and a cousin were caught blowing soap bubbles in a bathroom. In this section of her Breitbart piece, Hope seems to realize that she can't get much more mileage out of portraying Ahmed as a troublemaker, so she switches to attacking zero-tolerance policies, which at least deserve to be attacked, although of course she paints them as an artifact of the liberal Nanny state:

Today’s zero tolerance policies can do just that. They are the backbone of federal safe schools and threat assessment plans in response to Columbine (1999) and Sandy Hook (2012), culminating as the Safe School Initiative, a joint project of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Secret Service, intended to prevent school shootings. No, kids do not get to be kids anymore.

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Ultimately, Hope concludes, Ahmed's ethnicity and religion had nothing to do with his getting handcuffed and hauled off to a police station for what everyone agreed was definitely not a bomb. Instead, she insists,

All students face the same stringent zero tolerance policies as did Ahmed Mohamed and sometimes, for far lesser reasons ... These zero tolerance policies, not racism or Islamophobia as the family maintains, resulted in Mohamed’s Sept. 14 arrest.

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Odd, though, that while Hope sticks pretty closely to the Dallas Morning News account while scraping up all of Ahmed's many crimes -- his talkativeness, his pranks, his school suspension (which was ultimately overturned, a detail she forgets to mention), she leaves out that piece's discussion of the fairly constant bullying that Ahmed was subjected to. Anthony Bond, in a letter supporting Ahmed's appeal of a suspension for fighting, noted that a larger kid had been choking him when he fought back, and that “Ahmed also alleges that everyday, students in the school are calling him ‘Bacon Boy and Sausage Boy and ISIS Boy.’”

Also left out of the Breitbart account is Ahmed's contention -- which reporter Avi Selk dutifully notes hasn't been proven -- that an administrator at Sam Houston had it out for him, and had been, as Bond wrote, "terrorizing him since the 6th grade” by singling him out for punishment and preventing him from praying in school. At the very least, you'd think Hope would have seized on that as proof that Ahmed is a whiny victim and maybe a dangerous Muslim radical. Seriously, Dead Breitbart, Wonkette shouldn't have to write your paranoid rubbish for you. Fortunately, the Breitbart commenters pick up that dropped ball and run with it: the highest rated comment on the story calls for the entire family's deportation.

[Dallas Morning News / Dead Breitbart]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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