The Ahmed Mohamed Fiasco: When Racial Stereotyping Meets Scientific Illiteracy
Set aside the gutter racism of both the police and the school administration, and focus on the logic of the situation. At that point, either the device was a bomb or it wasn’t. If the authorities thought there was even the tiniest chance that it was an actual bomb — and it seems pretty clear that this bunch were a few semesters shy of an explosives degree — then what on Earth were they doing wasting time arguing with the kid? They should have called an expert, or even emptied out the school and called in the bomb squad. First figure out whether there is a real danger, then either take the kid into custody, or apologize profusely for a mistaken accusation.
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It’s a stark example of the fundamental uselessness of racial profiling as a strategy of fighting crime or terrorism. (The local mayor, by the way, is also an Islamophobic fruitcake.) In a letter defending himself, the school principal goes on and on about safety, security, necessary precautions, and so forth. But by his own assumptions, he put the entire school in danger! It turns out that being racist is not actually a serviceable replacement for competence, technical knowledge, or simple common sense.