But, when a smart 14 year-old kid (who happens to be Muslim) is carted out of school in handcuffs for displaying a homemade clock and social media (and everyone from NASA scientists to the President) springs into action to say something to the effect of, "We think you have a great mind and we're sorry you were mistreated and we support you and want you to keep being YOU," that's when I think screens and technology have the power to do great things and push for real change in this country.
We so often talk about the decline of children's education in America. To fix that, we need to work to save each and every kid so that they feel safe to experiment, explore and learn no matter what they look like or where they come from. Yeah, saving every kid is a tough goal to accomplish. But, it's a much worthier fight than just about any conquest that has ever existed. No person, so absolutely curious and so absolutely innocent, should have to go through a possibly-soul-crushing experience like this:
"They told me 'No, you can't call your parents,'" Ahmed said. "'You're in the middle of an interrogation at the moment.' They asked me a couple of times, 'Is it a bomb?' and I answered a couple of times, 'It's a clock. I felt like I was a criminal," the teenager said. "I felt like I was a terrorist. I felt like all the names I was called."
So, yay to President Obama and NASA scientist Bobak Ferdowsi and Mark Zuckerberg and the people at MIT and everyone who posted #IStandWithAhmed in support and said that most of this country doesn't believe that being Muslim makes you a terrorist. And, most of all, yay to Ahmed for being a fearless thinker. Let's hope this experience doesn't hold him back from being fearless. For now, let's chalk this one up as a win for social media and a loss for fearful, prejudiced paranoia.*
*Important note: Whether it wins or loses, when fearful prejudiced paranoia takes the field, it's always a loss.