Opinion: Research for yourself



Fiza Shah

Fiza Shah

Fiza Shah is a freshman news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact Joe Smith at [email protected].

When I first started this column, many people, including my own family, told me that I was being naive. That simply writing an article every week was not going to change anyone’s deeply engrained prejudices. I told them they were wrong.

In fact, for the past several weeks, my mother has been telling me to stop writing my columns because she feels they will result in some form of hate crime.

I did not stop because I don’t believe in running away. I don’t believe in being bullied into denying my faith, simply because there are people who disagree with me.

Whenever I have a debate with someone on the topic of Islam and religious freedom, they always bring up one point: If Islam doesn’t preach violence or terrorism, why don’t more people speak out against this misconception? It is not that people don’t negate the misconceptions; it is often that no one listens.

This reminds me of an interesting phenomenon in politics regarding civil discourse.

Most American voters do not lean far left or far right — most are moderates. The average American citizen does not hold an extreme viewpoint in regards to abortion, health care, etc. So, why do politicians campaign on such issues?

Studies show that if a candidate knows their constituents are not knowledgeable about politics, they will use mudslinging and appeal to more emotional and extreme issues like abortion or health care.

They will say things like “Democrats are socialists,” or “Republicans hate women.” The more ignorant the population, the more mudslinging is used. In fact, in such areas, mudslinging yields a far greater result in polls than reasonable discussion.

The purpose of this column has not been to appeal to those that belong to an extreme among my readers, though the comments have been, primarily, from among that group. My goal is to try to speak to the moderate group that wants to better educate themselves about a topic most people don’t bother researching for themselves. They thus remain ignorant, and susceptible to mudslinging, such as “Islam promotes terrorism.”

This will be my final column for the semester. I’m under no delusion that I’ve completely cleared the air of prejudice towards Muslims. However, the important thing is to get a dialogue started.

I encourage everyone to go and research Islam for yourself. Don’t just Google “terrorism in Islam,” because then you are simply perpetuating an ignorance you already have and in turn giving way to mudslinging and extremism. Instead, read the Quran for yourself. Watch videos. Ask questions. Though this is my last column, I’m always available via email for any questions or a continuation of the discussion.