Opinion: “Offensive” questions get real answers

Fiza Shah

Fiza Shah

Fiza Shah is a columnist for The Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

During the past several decades we Americans have become soft. We’ve become overly sensitive to every comment, gesture or question that has to deal with race, creed, sexuality or any other subcategory of people.

Any hope for open discussion has become obstructed by the sensitivities of others.

This desire for political correctness is not a reflection of our progress, but is rather evidence of our lack thereof. The fact that we are incapable of talking about “sensitive” issues for fear of offending someone shows that we are never going to reach equality or even understanding among people unless we open up the channels for discussion.

For example, I am Muslim. I would like to think I’m a pretty approachable person. However, I find that most people are curious about the details of my religion and culture, but don’t want to ask me questions.

And even when they do muster up the courage to ask, it is quietly prefaced with “I’m not trying to offend you, but…”

Islam is the most misunderstood of the three monotheistic religions in the U.S. today. According to a 2010 Gallup Poll, 31 percent of Americans admit that their opinions of Islam are “not favorable at all.”

I want to change this, starting with Kent.

So my proposal is very simple: If you have a question regarding Islam, or Eastern culture, write to me at the Kent State email provided below. Any and all questions are welcome — from those regarding the Islamic view on terrorism to jihad to eating pork — so long as the intention behind the question is to gain a better understanding, not to be malicious.

Obviously I won’t be able to judge everyone’s intention, but it’s usually really difficult to offend me. Questions can be posed anonymously or with names attached. Each week, one question will be chosen and answered.

Don’t let your fear of offending people stop you from understanding those that are different from you.