America has been and always will be a nation of immigrants. The economic dominance this country enjoys in the world today can be directly traced to the wave of immigration that took place after World War II, when millions of talented and hard-working foreigners came to America to try their hand at building things. Steve Jobs’ father was an immigrant. Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, is an immigrant. Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, is an immigrant. Daniel Aaron, co-founder of Comcast, was an immigrant. Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo, is an immigrant. If you go back a few more years, you will find that Radio Shack, Goldman Sachs and AT&T were also founded by immigrants. The list goes on and on.
The American economy floats on innovation. In its absence, the country is running on the consumption of Chinese manufactured junk. Innovation is the hallmark of immigrants. People who come to this country, put their heads down and work really hard to make something new and interesting. By the way immigrants are treated today, you would think America has no need for them.
Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old ninth-grader from Irving, Texas, was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. One of his teachers thought it looked like a bomb, assumed that since he was brown, he was inclined toward terrorism, and then promptly called school administrators, who called local police, who took the boy away in handcuffs that afternoon. The boy never said his clock was anything but a clock. Ahmed is what is known as a maker, a kid whose interest in electronics and robotics motivates him to tinker with stuff, put things together, take them apart and turn them into something interesting. Basically the kind of person who innovates and makes the American economy grow at a time when most manufacturing jobs have gone overseas.
The assumed criminalization of Ahmed is nothing new to American history, but given the economic context and the rapid pace of globalization, it represents a death knell to the age of American innovation. We are destroying our own economy through racism and stupidity.
Ahmed will probably still grow up to be a brilliant American inventor. But the family of the next Ahmed may decide to go to Australia or India instead. Why put up with stupid American racists when you can live free of that kind of ignorance and still make cool stuff? And that is where America’s decline will accelerate. We are in every way cutting off the life blood of the American economy, forcing the brightest, most innovative and motivated minds in the world to choose to go elsewhere because of our racism, fear and hatred of the “other.” White America needs to get over the fact that in another three decades, America will be majority minority, because if they continue to act out of irrational fear and hatred, the pie will get smaller and smaller for more and more people. And those who stoke irrational fear and hatred should be ostracized, ridiculed and marginalized. Instead we put them on TV and give them money to say their stupid nonsense to weak-minded individuals who will listen.
Let’s hope Ahmed takes up President Barack Obama’s invitation to bring his clock to the White House, so visitors looking at the time can be reminded of what actually made America great.