So a smart 14-year-old kid wearing a NASA shirt gets handcuffed and questioned by police for the high crime of building a homemade clock and bringing it to school to show off his handiwork. Problem: The kid's name is Ahmed Mohamed, and authorities at his high school in Irving, Texas, along with responding officers, thought his device might be a bomb. As Philip Bump at the Washington Post summarizes, we've got "possible xenophobia in the form of Mohamed being considered a bombmaker, technophobia in the form of a simple device being mistaken as something threatening, and a good example of a government agency behaving in a way that raises legitimate questions." In other words, a perfect topic for tonight's Republican debates.
There's a reason that #IStandWithAhmed is trending on Twitter now, notes Bump—the story "sits at a powerful nexus in American politics: diversity, modernity, immigration, education." Moderators have endless choices on this one: Is Islamophobia a problem in the US? Do immigrants face a hostile environment here? Are teachers tech-savvy enough to prepare kids for the modern workplace? At Vox, Ezra Klein ticks off multiple reasons the incident hurts America. Among them: "We are racially profiling Muslim children as bomb-wielding terrorists," he writes. "We are seemingly confirming the Muslim world's worst fears about us—and giving ammunition to those who argue that America is deeply hostile to Muslims." Click for Bump's full column, or for Klein's.