The Oberlin Review

Overcommitting Results in Chronic Undercommitting

Josh Ashkinaze, Contributing Writer

March 8, 2019

The downside of a full Google Calendar is a partial commitment to everything on it. Paradoxically, overcommitting usually entails undercommitting to each thing you do. An overcommitted person simply does not have enough time or energy for each of their individual commitments. We can define “overcommitment” as having more obligations to fulfill than time or ability to fulfill them. But it’s important to distinguish between discretionary overcommitment, such as choosing to participate in 10 clubs, and necessary overcommitment, like needing to work three jobs. I’m writing about the first. Thinking about physical structures can help us understand how we handle overcommitment. Every structure around us exerts...

Racial Identity Politics Favors White Candidates

Josh Ashkinaze, Contributing Writer

December 2, 2016

Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election highlighted that when it comes to identity politics, the largest and most powerful identity group has a natural advantage. White identity politics help, at least in part, to explain Trump’s success. And insofar as racial identity plays a chief role in political polarization, candidates who promote white identity political movements like “All Lives Matter” and xenophobia-imbued protectionism will continue to wield a numerical edge. In contrast to identity-centered organizing, affinity-based organizing hinges on shared aims and values. Affinity-based organizing should be employed by political parties to avoid the numerical advantage of a candidate just because the...

Over-Militarization Causes Gun Violence

Chloe Vassot, Contributing Writer

September 16, 2016

Gun control measures have historically been enforced by racist laws that have been used to explicitly discriminate against marginalized people, as Josh Ashkinaze pointed out in his Sept. 9 Review article “Progressives Should Oppose Gun Control.” He calls it “deeply ironic” that “progressives” support a movement with such a past, but his proposed solutions of wariness, the creation of federal gun registry and use of “smart gun” technology are inadequate and obscure the reality of homicidal gun use in the U.S. Being wary of the methods by which laws are implemented is logical and necessary due to the reality of police brutality, but caution should not hinder efforts to create real and substantive anti-...

Progressives Should Oppose Gun Control

Josh Ashkinaze, Contributing Writer

September 9, 2016

While we may associate gun sup­porters with angry white men in leather jackets and gun control supporters with hippies and peace signs, these stereo­types are only a product of recent times. Throughout American history, gun con­trol proponents were the powerful and the racist, not liberals and peaceniks. Recognizing the roots of gun control advocacy — the intentional disarming of a marginalized population and selective enforcement of gun legislation — means opening up a new case against gun con­trol, one based on the systemic discrimi­nation that inevitably comes with arms legislation. The conservative and libertar­ian case against gun control is a matter of individual liberty. But after recognizing that...

RIO Reclaims College’s Financial Autonomy

Josh Ashkinaze, Columnist

April 15, 2016

Over the weekend, I participated in a workshop led by the Responsible Investment Organization, exploring endowments and how to sustainably and responsibly invest. There are three main reasons why I think students should join RIO. First, there may be no other time in your life when you can leverage more than $800 million dollars for any social benefit. Secondly, reinvestment is constructive and effective: not only are you criticizing the current method of investing, you’re also able to simultaneously suggest a solution. Finally, student participation is needed now more than ever. Everyone knows investment pools aren’t co-ops, but you are normally able to vote on where your money goes. Yet for all funds managed by ou...

Your Satisfaction Will Follow “U”

Josh Ashkinaze, Columnist

April 1, 2016

In late March, somebody on Reddit posted a question: “What event divided your life into ‘before’ and ‘after’?” One answer was, “I think I’m still in the ‘before’ stage of my life, if I’m being honest.” And this resonated with me because I probably am too. But it would be nice to know when and what my bifurcating experience will be. For seniors and fifth-years, college graduation is approaching. Is that a life-dividing experience? What experience will be life-changing, making me noticeably better or worse off afterwards? As it turns out, many events that should drastically change people’s lives are not reflected in measures of satisfaction. In the end, most people’s life satisfaction follows a con...

Politicians Should Embrace Internet Memes

Politicians Should Embrace Internet Memes

February 12, 2016

Everyone with a social media account and more than two friends or followers has seen political memes. They’re clever ways to convey a simple point, which can then be reiterated, with slight variation, by another person who laughs at the meme. The dankest meme now is “Bernie or Hillary?” (dankness is to memes what catchiness is to pop songs). Images of the two are juxtaposed and their opinions on a fictitious topic are contrasted. Hillary always has the lame and simplistic view; Bernie is portrayed a...

Paris Attacks Target Multiculturalism

Josh Ashkinaze, Columnist

November 20, 2015

The Paris terrorist attacks were shocking, but one particular detail was especially surprising: One of the suicide bombers who attacked the Stade de France was a Syrian refugee, according to his passport. The document lay next to him, suspiciously intact, despite the condition of his body. This led some French officials to suspect that the passport was planted by a member of the operation. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that a jihadi carrying out the last action of his life would simply forget that he had his passport on him. If the passport that identified the terrorist as a Syrian refugee was deliberately planted, which it seems to have been, this gives insight into the goal of the act: to shake France’s values of d...

Captagon Floods Market, May End Civil War

Josh Ashkinaze, Columnist

October 30, 2015

I don’t think any of us know what the life of a typical Saudi prince is like, but I think everyone would be surprised with what one Saudi prince was up to on Monday. Abd al-Muhsen bin Walid bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud was detained at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut for trying to smuggle two tons of Captagon — a new amphetamine-type stimulant — on his private plane. TIME calls the Captagon trade “Syria’s Breaking Bad.” What is Captagon? It was originally an ADHD medication prescribed in the ’60s and was banned in the ’80s because of its addictive potential. Now the drug has made a comeback because of the civil war in Syria. Prescription Captagon was just a mild stimulant, but as factories ...

Fair Executions Impossible to Achieve

Josh Ashkinaze, Columnist

September 18, 2015

At the end of his inspiring Convocation talk, Brian Stevenson was asked, “Are there people who deserve to die?” And he answered something like, “Personally, I do not think so.” We are not our worst action. But it wouldn’t matter if there were people who deserve to die. Does the criminal justice system — with all of its known faults and errors — really deserve to kill people? This is the moral paradox of killing criminals: Even if you believe some people deserve to die, who deserves to kill? 140 countries have banned state-sponsored capital punishment. Many people, myself included, are uncomfortable with the U.S. government exercising the death penalty. But there is another history of capital punis...

Trump’s Proposed Wall Ineffective, Unnecessary

Josh Ashkinaze, Columnist

September 4, 2015

The idea of America needing a big wall to keep out Mexicans is the political equivalent of aluminum: unattractive but recyclable. It’s not surprising then that Donald Trump wants to build a “great, great” wall to stem the flow of illegal immigration. His platform might be fuzzy, but as the first position paper on his website clearly lays out, “There must be a wall across the southern border.” But really, a big wall to keep Mexicans out is both ineffective and unnecessary. Big walls don’t work. Sociologists have found that increased U.S. border security increases the number of undocumented immigrants. Getting over the border once is expensive, so doing it twice is unlikely. And that leads to the wor...

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