Ahmed Mohamed brought an “invention” to school, showed it off several times, and finally made it beep in a classroom. In America’s “See something? Say something” culture, the teacher felt obligated to confiscate and report the box. The rest is history.

Ahmed’s father is now trying to prove that the city and school district have made, as a racial and religious class, black Muslims fair game for state-based discrimination.

No one knows WHY Ahmed chose to build a clock — or “timing device” — but all recognize that if the same thing had been armed with plastic explosive (very small, very potent material), we’d be chatyping about some other kind of story. As the state’s writ demands the same protect its citizens, sending / bringing a box jammed with electronics into the classroom raises questions and compels the making of some choices.

Hoax bomb?

Maybe it was.

Maybe it wasn’t.

Where should the public set its sensitivity to threat?

When Ahmed set off the clock’s alarm, it interrupted – or disrupted — the classroom. The teacher took the box and alerted the next official.

This small Texas incident took off with the help of the local NAACP leader Anthony Bond and in a matter of days became both a cause celebre and reviled part of the history of terrorism and related threat in the U.S. and around the world.

My partner in conversation didn’t know whether to laugh or cry over news of the lawsuit brought by Ahmed Mohamed and his father, Mohamed Elhassan, against the “Irving Independent School District; Daniel Cummings, In His Individual Capacity; and the City of Irving” (August 8, 2016 – URL links to PDF of the filing).

Not to summarize the suit here, readers may nonetheless note the charge of institutional racism against “black Muslims” as inseparable from the suit.