Harsanyi: Stop with the pretend Islamophobia

David Harsanyi

Earlier this month, a 13-year-old boy in Maryland faced an assault charge after authorities say he kissed a 14-year-old classmate on a dare at school. He’s being charged with second-degree assault as a juvenile. He has not, as yet, been invited to the White House.

In December 2013, a 6-year-old boy in Colorado was suspended from school for kissing a girl on the hand. No White House invitation.

In March 2014, a high-school student in upstate New York named Shane Kinney was suspended for wearing a National Rifle Association T-shirt emblazoned with the NRA logo and the words “2nd Amendment Shall not be Infringed” across the back.

In August 2014, a young girl was suspended after breaking a class rule of saying “bless you” after a classmate sneezed.

In June 2014, an 8-year-old named Asher Palmer was expelled from his special-needs Manhattan school for threatening classmates with a toy “gun” that he had assembled out of rolled-up white paper.

And so on. There have been hundreds of similar cases in schools across the country. Unreasonable suspensions, expulsions and punishments are regularly meted out by administrators and overactive teachers who lack common sense and are nervous about litigious parents. But that’s not why the Ahmed Mohamed story blew up. The 14-year-old who was arrested in Irving, Texas, for bringing a homemade clock into school has become an orchestrated media event meant to teach the proles a lesson.

“He just wants to invent good things for mankind,” sometime Sudanese presidential candidate, sometime Shariah activist and sometime dad Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed told the Dallas Morning News. “But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”

Well, thinking that’s what happened, without a shred of evidence, is apparently enough to unleash the sanctimonious sermonizing from almost all quarters.

President Barack Obama didn’t tweet in support of Ahmed Mohamed because some local despot overreacted. The White House press secretary didn’t invite Ahmed to attend an astronomy night because the kid is super-smart. “It’s clear that at least some of Ahmed’s teachers failed him,” Josh Earnest said. “That’s too bad, but it’s not too late for all of us to use this as a teachable moment and to search our own conscience for biases in whatever form they take.”

So a story that illustrated the tendencies of overbearing school administrators is now transformed into a teachable moment about “Islamophobia.” And blowing up a nonevent is a way to create the perception that discrimination against Muslims is a pervasive problem in American life. In the real world, though, the preponderance of victims of jumpy teachers are not Muslims. But those cases do not provide the White House with the fodder it needs for some self-satisfying lecturing.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at the Federalist.