Anti-Muslim conservatives are coalescing around a narrative to push against national outrage about the arrest of a 14-year-old boy who built a clock and brought it to school.
While more libertarian-minded conservatives blamed the incident on "zero tolerance" policies -- and not racism or xenophobia -- others are warning the incident is a "setup" intended to keep Americans from being Islamophobic enough.
“What the president did, Sandra, by elevating this story to national attention, is he basically got rid of ‘if you see something, say something,'” said Fox News host Andrea Tarantos, apparently forgetting that President Barack Obama reached out to the Texas teen after his arrest made national news.
Pamela Geller -- who organized an anti-Islam art contest earlier this year in Garland, near the teen's home in Irving -- also claimed the ninth-grader's arrest was part of a plot by Obama to undermine national security.
"This story is pure agitprop most fatal," Geller warned. “'If you see something, say something' is now racism."
She complained that Mohamed, who has been invited to meet the president, NASA officials and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, had become a "media star."
"The whole thing has clearly been a setup, and its effect will be to make Americans less safe," Geller said. "If you ever see a Muslim with a suspicious object, remember the lesson of Ahmed Mohamed: to say something would be 'racism.' That could end up being the epitaph of America and the free world."
Geller compared the teen, whose device police never once suspected was an actual explosive device, to other westerners accused of trying to join or assist Islamic State militants.
She also accused the teen's family of engaging in Muslim "supremacist stunts," such as debating a Koran-burning Florida pastor and other anti-Islam commentators.
The chief of Irving police said Mohamed was arrested because he refused to offer another explanation for the device besides describing it as a clock whose purpose was to measure time.
But Jim Hanson, vice president of the anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy, described the boy's homemade device as "half a bomb," reported The Intercept.
"It looks exactly like a number of IED triggers that were produced by the Iranians and used to kill U.S. troops in the war in Iraq," Hanson said.
Frank Gaffney, the think tank’s founder and president, agreed and warned that the story had not been fully explored or explained.
Gaffney -- a close ally of Geller's and the organizer of last week's anti-Iran rally featuring Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sarah Palin -- said the controversy was an “influence operation” by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
He said the civil rights group was using “professional victim-promoting” to wage “civilization jihad” with the assistance of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The anti-government Oath Keepers group complained that schools are too quick to punish students for wearing NRA T-shirts or carrying "Wonder Woman" lunch boxes -- but then said Mohamed's teacher was right to alert authorities to the boy's clock.
"For that, she and the police — who responded responsibly and in good faith, and who had no way of knowing otherwise until they’d had a chance to investigate — are now the subjects of 'progressive condemnation," wrote Oath Keeper David Codrea. "As is anyone who believe a prime function of government is to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, as opposed to flooding the Republic with inimical alien cultures."
"The Opposite Day madness of the ginned up outrage is that the teacher did exactly what Obama’s Department of Homeland Security tells citizens to do," he added. "Hell, they’ve even trademarked it: If You See Something Say Something."