I Think It’s Safe to Say That the Ahmed Mohamed Incident Is a Product of Islamophobia


So are conservatives starting to cover the Ahmed Mohamed story? With a three-hour debate death march looming, I don’t have the energy to do a serious survey. But I did hop over to The Corner and found this from Ian Tuttle:

Unlike the Twitter hordes, I’m inclined not to spin this into some profound comment on our “cultural moment.” If it’s a comment on anything, it’s on the astonishing deficit of common sense at MacArthur High School and among local authorities….But this has become a story about nationwide “Islamophobia” and “white privilege”—or about those crazy-racist-redneck-gun-obsessed Texans—and it’s not about either. It’s about a few people in positions of authority who overreacted to the possibility of a weapon. Which, as it happens, is a too-frequent occurrence all over the country, regardless of the color of your skin.

I suppose the flip side of conservatives mostly ignoring Ahmed is Vox.com, which so far has 11 separate pieces about this incident today. Now that’s flooding the zone. But one of those 11 pieces turns out to address Tuttle almost directly. Max Fisher writes about the rise of Islamophobia in just the suburbs of Dallas near Ahmed’s home in just the past year:

The trouble began in January, when American Muslim families…gathered to formally condemn violent extremism and to cultivate positive ties with their local communities….In response, thousands of protesters mobbed the event, waving anti-Muslim signs and American flags for hours, forcing local Muslim families who attended to endure a gauntlet of hate. “We don’t want them here,” a woman at the protests told a local TV reporter. One man explained, “We’re here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us.”

….A few weeks later, in early March, an Iraqi man who had just fled the Middle East to join his wife in Dallas stood outside their apartment photographing the first snow he’d ever seen when two men walked up and shot him to death.

….Then, in May, a woman named Pamela Geller who is known for anti-Muslim hate speech organized an event with far-right political figures called the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest,” also in Garland, to encourage Americans to draw deliberately offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a show of hostility toward Muslims. The event’s organizers explicitly positioned it as “sounding the alarm about Muslim encroachment into Europe and America, and its potential impact on American culture,” according to Breitbart.

And that’s not to even mention the fact that the longtime mayor of Irving is Beth Van Duyne, who became briefly famous earlier this year for her Fox News interview about Islamic “courts” taking over the community. Avi Selk of the Dallas Morning News writes about a city council meeting last March:

Van Duyne had spent the last month criticizing and questioning a Muslim mediation panel, conflating it with a court in an interview seen around the country. That night, she pushed the council to endorse a state bill whose author had targeted the panel.

The dispute has made Van Duyne a hero on fringe websites that fear an Islamic takeover of America. “Beth Van Duyne for President,” a fan wrote on her Facebook page this week. “This lady has balls and Thank God she did this. If you do not like it, move … to California.”

When Ahmed’s arrest became public, Van Duyne’s first instinct was to write, “I hope this incident does not serve as a deterrent against our police and school personnel from maintaining the safety and security of our schools.” If she cared at all about a 14-year-old Muslim boy being hauled off in handcuffs from school, she sure kept it hidden.

(Until the flak started to get heavy. Then she hastily changed her tune.)

So: is this about local authorities overreacting? Sure. But it’s also—obviously—about fear and Islamophobia and a growing climate of hatred that the leaders of Irving, Texas, did nothing to address. How about some common sense here, folks?