Yes, Richard Dawkins really did tweet in support of Ahmed Mohamed (Storify link below). Dawkins tweeted that the arrest was wrong. He also tweeted many questions, questioning some of the points various other people were making.
But, heaven forbid, he was a little too fastidious in pointing out that stuffing a clock guts into a box isn’t an ‘invention’. For that he’s an anti-Muslim racist bigot, apparently. Even though he apologised for being overly sensitive to the correct use of terms (we know what he thinks about ‘Evolution is just a theory’).
Yes, Dawkins tweeted. That was enough for many of his haters.
Except for that awful racist bigoted refusal to accept the clock as a genuine invention of a budding Muslim genius, I was pretty sure, as I read the exchanges in near real-time, that everything Dawkins was saying was indeed in support of Ahmed, a young boy caught up in the not-to-be-squandered SJW opportunity to expose Islamophobia and pronounce oneself free of it.
SJWs went to town on Dawkins. And then went to town on those supporting Dawkins supporting Ahmed. And then they went to town on the political expediency of using Ahmed as a political weapon, using Ahmed as a political weapon in the process.
Yes, Dawkins was quick to support Ahmed against his arrest, and maintained that position throughout. But time went on and things got a little more complex: it was less than an ‘invention’, his father is a well known publicist for himself and his own agenda in Sudan. And Dawkins retweeted and questioned some of the opinions that were being formed.
If Dawkins came to any conclusion at all it was that we are all apt to jump into Twitterland – and Dawkins accepts this charge of himself – when the details of a case are not fully known. At various points from the story breaking we had little actual news about what actually happened, from teachers or police.
And later we found that Ahmed’s father and the notorious publicity machine CAIR were involved. And, coincidentally, this geek who hadn’t realised his simple project might cause concern, suddenly found an excellent SJW voice. It seems Ahmed is being manipulated one way or another, and it’s not clear to what extent.
Dawkins mostly raised questions about all this, asking if it was true, saying, fine, if it’s true. He responded to many tweets, and didn’t endorse any other than the important point that Ahmed shouldn’t have been arrested.
But not everyone sees it that way. Some are determined to see Dawkins as a racist bigot. A few news reports – of course there’s always click fodder if Dawkins can be demonised. And then there’s the usual suspects: Greenwald, Aslan, Myers, …
Twitter is a bit of a pain for teasing out who said what when, but I just had to do it. I was sure Dawkins wasn’t the monster that he was asserted to be:
Dawkins Tweets Ahmed – Storify
Perhaps I could be charged with being a Dawkins fan-boy, too eager to read sugary sweetness into any Dawkins tweet. Well, even if I’ve misread some of his tweets, I’m still pretty sure that his critics have misinterpreted them by miles.
Here’s one example:
If this is true, what was his motive? Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so https://t.co/LtOFAAmVxK
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) September 20, 2015
Now, it seems to me that Dawkins is questioning Talbot here, challenging him to provide a motive for Ahmed’s supposed mischievousness, but still saying he should not have been arrested anyway. This seems like support for Ahmed. And yet the news reports take a look at the title of the video and say Dawkins is calling Ahmed a fraud. Later, Dawkins does get into the ‘invention’ issue, but is still supportive of Ahmed against his arrest. Is it really so obvious that Dawkins is being Islamophobic or racist here? Or do you have to be a Dawkins hater to have this magically translated in your brain into a hate crime?