Every couple of months, some poor third-grader gets sent home from school for holding a fish-stick like a gun and shouting "pow pow!" at his friends in the lunch room. Or for playing tag during recess (nowadays at school, kids cannot touch each other in any way). Or for kissing a girl on a dare from his friends.
These are all signs of how paranoid the helicopter parents have become about their children's safety. They have browbeaten the school administration into imposing these ridiculous rules "just in case".
Time and again, nobody comes to these kids' rescue. At most, you'll hear a bunch of old-timers griping about how coddled these darn kids are these days (it's true).
And then comes along this guy who gets sent home for bringing a suspiciously bomb-looking clock to school. Why does his case set off a cascade of support on social networks among Gen X and Millennials, outspoken support from the head of Facebook, and an invitation to meet the leader of the (not so) free world itself?
Obviously not because the degree of paranoia was more flagrant than usual. A kid pointing a fish-stick "gun" cannot harm anyone at all, and everyone knows it. The clock in this case did look a lot like a bomb, and nothing like any kind of clock you or I have ever seen.
Most conservatives are pointing to the minority factor as the source of hypocrisy. This bomb-looking clock guy is a dark-skinned Muslim, so he benefits from the diversity forcefield, while the white kid who makes his fish-stick into a gun is one of those dreadful white males.
I think the diversity factor is secondary, perhaps one that made the case all the more attractive, but as icing on the cake.
I'm guessing that black students, too, get sent home for kissing girls on a dare, or wearing clothing with logos that an out-of-touch adult would take to be gang signs but that all the kids know is just some harmless fad logo.
Hardcore liberals may protest these cases, but that's not what happened here, where the #IStandWithAhmed crowd included a lot of moderate/independent types and probably a good number of conservatives. And no way Zuckerberg or Obama would risk their reputations by publicly supporting a black youth who got suspended for pretending some object was a gun. That would be tacitly pro-gun -- a big liberal no-no.
Which gets to what is really at work here: Ahmed's case involved consumer electronics, which our device-addicted mainstream worships like a cargo cult. Throw in the connotation of science and technology, and he's now got the support of all the I FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE geeks. Tech companies and tech addicts tend to be more liberal, but not so uniformly and rabidly liberal as those who would protest a kid who got sent home for unwittingly wearing gang colors to school. It wasn't so much an outcry from liberals as from tech addicts and IFLS types.
Indeed, Zuckerberg didn't mention how unjust it was that a dark-skinned Muslim was discriminated against, and that he'd be welcome to have dark-skinned Muslims at his company. Rather, that it was unfair that a techie nerd was suspended, and that Facebook welcomes passionate techie nerds to come work for them.
This also explains why the normal cases of ridiculous school suspensions always go without protest -- those boys aren't nerds and device diddlers, but ones who are showing a healthy red-blooded male nature by innocently kissing girls even if they didn't openly request to be kissed beforehand, or by pretending to be a man with a gun who's going to go whoop the bad guys' asses and save the day.
Uh-oh, rising testosterone levels detected -- better throw him in the kiddie slammer so his toxic masculinity can be quarantined.
But in Ahmed's case, the helicopter parents and childless weenies on the sidelines perked up and said, "Hey wait a minute, he's not one of those toxic masculinity threats. He's an unathletic geek like us. Nous sommes tous Ahmed!"
Jocks only enjoy power and influence at a local, human scale, while nerds may rise to the top of lumbering gigantic organizations. And so, the over-reaching police state will be used to live out a great big revenge-of-the-nerds fantasy against those pint-sized douchebros who like to shoot cap guns and kiss girls on a dare.