Much to regret for Islam piece



Earlier this year I wrote a column called “Time for a honest discussion about Islam” that showed the importance of context and clarity. My column prompted responses of anger and hurt from students, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and for good reason.

The intent of the column was to get students talking about criminal justice and gender equality in the Middle East, North Africa and other countries.

The column should have focused on what students on campus can do about human rights issues abroad, and I still believe in the importance of that conversation. But no Muslim students were consulted before its publication, and people felt left out of the conversation.

Students thought they had been attacked for no reason. They did nothing wrong, yet someone was criticizing them. An “honest discussion,” was not much of a discussion at all. Because of the way the column was done, and mostly because there was no input from Muslim students, people were not sure of my intentions.

Instead of starting a good conversation, Muslim students felt like they were being called out. The conversation that I wanted to start didn’t happen, and I take the blame.

This expression of regret is past due, but I wanted to take plenty of time to think about what to write, especially considering the column was all too hasty.

Related: Letter to the Editor: Islam column insulting to UK Muslims

Newspapers should be a platform to raise up people in the margins of society and to give voice to those who would otherwise not be heard. The column did neither.

The opinions page of a newspaper, in particular, is a place where content should have a positive impact on society. My column, on the other hand, hurt fellow students, faculty and staff.

Muslim students especially did not deserve to be the victims, and too many suffer because of ignorance and brash generalizations by their fellow citizens.

After speaking with some members of the Muslim Student Association, it is clear many Muslim students still feel distrusted on UK’s campus. My column, they feel, helped to strengthen that distrust.

Related: SGA to vote on resolution disagreeing with Kernel editor’s Islam column

If any column is worth writing, it is one standing up for our fellow students, faculty and staff in the Muslim community.

The Kentucky Kernel should be a safe haven for all students and a platform to give power to the powerless. With the publication of one column, some students felt isolated from their newspaper.

Muslim students deserve an apology and a better conversation. I hope they accept this apology, and I hope this is the beginning of a better conversation.

Will Wright is the editor in chief of the Kentucky Kernel.