The Oberlin Review

Publication of Numerous Articles Attempts to Censor Conversation

Jonathan Karpatkin

March 30, 2018

To the Editors: By publishing no fewer than three responses to Jacob Britton’s letter on AR-15s, The Oberlin Review showed that its interest is not in dialogue but in punishment for holding dissenting opinions. The commentary by the two editors of the Review in particular is built on straw horses and unfinished arguments. When Roman Broszkowski and Julia Peterson write about grenades, they twist Britton’s argument. They jump from arguing about the individual right to bear arms as established by District of Columbia v. Heller to attacking the stance that all weapons should be legal, a stance which Britton does not take. Grenades aren’t firearms, nor AR-15s, nor have they been used prolifically in mass violence. Bri...

Britton’s Argument Collapses Under Scrutiny

Jade Schiff

March 9, 2018

Editorial To the Editors: Jacob Britton’s argument about the Founding Fathers and AR-15s is bold and contrarian, and I admire him for having the courage of his convictions. However, his argument does not stand up logically or empirically. At a time when American politics is infected from the top down by disdain for truth and reason, such deficiencies cannot go unanswered. Britton writes: “The Supreme Court interprets original Constitutional amendments in the historical context of the Founders.” This statement conflates the two dominant modes of judicial interpretation: originalism and contextualism. According to the first, what matters is the intent the Founders. According to the second, interpretation is determi...

“Crisis” Language Used to Justify Extraordinary Measures

Jade Schiff

February 9, 2018

To the Editors: A familiar refrain echoes across the country: institutions of higher education are wracked by “budget crises.” Oberlin, we are told over and over, is no exception. Our troubles are now receiving widespread attention. Inside Higher Ed, a major publication that considers the state of higher education in the U.S., recently published an article about our “budget crunch.” Certainly, many institutions of higher education, including Oberlin, are struggling. But this talk of “budget crises” is neither neutral nor innocent. Administrators and (in the case of public institutions) state officials often talk and act as if they are objective circumstances in which we find ourselves and about which we must scrat...

Activism Should Cultivate Broader Solidarity

Jade Schiff, Contributing Writer

November 18, 2016

I was both heartened and worried by the protests outside of Gibson’s over the past few days, a response to the assault and arrest of an African-American student near the store earlier this week. I was heartened because they reflected our students’ and our institution’s fierce commitment to social justice, freedom, equality and human dignity. We all share a responsibility to reaffirm these commitments every day, and I was proud to see our students doing that. I was worried, however, by two things: first, by a sense that these protests were oddly displaced. There is something incongruous about shouting “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” outside a family-owned business that serves the needs not just of wh...

Community Must Acknowledge Anti-Semitism

Jade Schiff, Assistant Professor of Politics

September 9, 2016

To the Editors: Kudos to Oliver Bok and the staff of The Oberlin Review for careful and responsible report­ing on the ongoing governance process concerning Profes­sor Karega in what is, to put it mildly, a low-information envi­ronment (“Karega Governance Process Enters Seventh Month,” Sept. 2, 2016). That confidenti­ality is necessary makes the lack of information no less frustrating, especially given how long the process is drag­ging on for reasons that cannot be disclosed. However, I remain troubled by the equivocation about the substance of the Facebook posts — “many considered” they were anti-Semitic — which I had hoped would have been settled by the many, many interventions about them in t...

Campus Dangerously Divided Over Discussion of Anti-Semitism

Jade Schiff, Assistant Professor of Politics

April 29, 2016

I am outraged and devastated by what my colleague, Associate Professor of Africana Studies Meredith Gadsby, wrote in her April 23 letter to the Review “Black Professors Pressured into Solidarity.” These are difficult times on campus. We feel ourselves painfully divided, and it is not clear how we can come back together. Professor Gadsby’s letter only tears us further apart. But perhaps we cannot heal until we get the pain and the anger and the fear out in the open. I hope I can achieve that in some small measure here. Before I address Professor Gadsby’s letter directly, I want to point out that there was no necessary reason for this issue to become racially divisive at all. The material Assistant Professor...

College Must Openly Condemn Bigotry, Anti-Semitism

Jade Schiff, Assistant Professor of Politics

April 15, 2016

To the Editor: In the wake of revelations about anti-Semitic Facebook posts by Professor Joy Karega, our College community finds itself once more on a precarious edge. Sometimes it seems like we live here full-time. This is not itself a bad thing, though it is difficult. Precariousness can be a sign of institutional life — a sign that we are asking important and difficult questions and resisting the comforts of certitude, and that we are risking ourselves and our sense of community in the process. That is indispensable to the critical inquiry and politics that we value. It is equally true that not all of us are vulnerable in the same way and that for many, that vulnerability is unchosen. The confluence of anti-...

Violence Requires Multiple Definitions

Jade Schiff, Assistant Professor of Politics

May 1, 2015

To the Editors: Violence, sexual and otherwise, afflicts Oberlin as it does colleges and universities around the world, and our community needs to address it vigorously. But we won’t be able to do so effectively unless we know what we are talking about when we talk about violence. I’m not always sure that we do. My colleague, Professor Copeland, responded forcefully last week to a previous letter objecting to Christina Hoff Sommers’ campus visit (“Free Speech Not Equivalent to Violence,” The Oberlin Review, April 24, 2015). In particular, he took issue with this line: “Her talk is happening, so let’s pull together in the face of this violence and make our own space to support each other” (“In Respon...

Katlin Letter Distorts UIUC Motives in Salaita Case

Jade Schiff, Politics department

February 27, 2015

To the Editors: In their letter in last week’s Review, Andrew and Fisher Katlin distorted both my views and the issues at stake in Steven Salaita’s treatment by UIUC. The Katlins are correct that mine was not a balanced argument. I believe UIUC’s handling of the case was unambiguously wrong. Salaita has plenty of critics, and they are free to make their case, as the Katlins have attempted to do. However, I made no implicit or explicit reference to Salaita’s First Amendment rights, as they claim that I did. I don’t see these rights as the source of the controversy at all. No one, to my knowledge, has claimed that Salaita did not have the right to say what he said, however offensive it might be. He was n...

Salaita Case Highlights Donor Influence in Higher Ed

Jade Schiff, Politics department

February 13, 2015

To the Editors: Like Students for a Free Palestine and many other campus organizations and academics around the world, I condemn the revocation of Steven Salaita’s job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by Chancellor Phyllis Wise. Like them, I also think that free expression and academic freedom are at stake. But this analysis misses the root of the problem. The academy is not exactly notorious for being anti-Palestinian. On the contrary, university professors tend to be liberal or left-leaning, to the delight of some and the chagrin of others. Tellingly, Salaita sailed through every academic hurdle to his appointment. It was blocked by Chancellor Wise, but the Board of Trustees did not merely affirm...

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