Biologist Richard Dawkins, known largely for his hard-line atheism and for blessing and/or cursing us with the the word meme, tweets a lot. Probably too much. So much that he’s started to reveal himself less as one of the leading public intellectuals of his generation than as your kooky uncle who has weird ideas about Muslims. Recently, Richard Dawkins has been obsessed with clock-building teen Ahmed Mohamed, who, Dawkins is convinced, has pulled a grievous hoax on the public.
Mohamed first made the news in September for bringing a homemade clock to school and subsequently getting arrested after authorities claimed they mistook it for a bomb. Dawkins was immediately on the case. He decided that the crucial part of the story was not that a Muslim teen had been mistaken for a bomb-maker and treated as a criminal, but that the teen claimed to have invented a clock.
In Dawkins’s estimation, Ahmed had merely built the clock from a kit and was pulling the wool over all our eyes by using the word “invention.” And, who knows, he suggested, maybe Ahmed wanted to be arrested?
Because Dawkins has access to Twitter, but does not have access to even a single modicum of chill, this semantic quibble turned into something of a personal crusade. Dawkins became an Ahmed Mohamed truther.
And defended those tweets on television:
Then the news cycle turned, as it inevitably does, and everyone forgot about selfish uncle Gene and his clock conspiracy.
But that was before Ahmed Mohamed and his family threatened this week to sue the city of Irving, Texas, and the Irving School District for violating Ahmed’s civil rights, seeking a total of $15 million and an apology.
Dawkins seized the opportunity on Tuesday morning to double down on his Ahmed hoax theory, even comparing the precocious teen to child members of ISIS:
There was a time when Richard Dawkins was taken seriously. A time before he used Twitter. That time is not now.
Ahmed Mohamed and his family have announced they’re moving to Qatar, where Ahmed will study science on a full scholarship. Richard Dawkins continues to reside in his own imagination, where he is constantly under siege by those scary, scary Muslims.