In-Your-Face and On the Right
Barrels of ink have already been spilled by and about self-described "arch right-winger" Robert K. Wasinger'94.
He's been variously attacked and explained by liberals as "our resident psychoanalyst," a "scared" purveyor of "hate speech," "Misinformation" and "bigotry."
Not just students, but tenured professors have participated in the vigorous efforts to understand.
"Why are these folks so angry?" wondered Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Peter J. Gomes shortly after Wasinger and his colleagues at the conservative campus magazine Peninsula released a 56-page special issue on the evils of homosexuality. "Why are they so scared?"
All of the questions and explanation-making might have been cut short, however, if there had been wider dissemination of some basic facts about Wasinger's life and family in his hometown of Manhattan, Kansas.
"I've always been an arch rightwinger," Wasinger says. When he was 10, his mom was president of the local right-to-life group, and she took him along to prayer vigils and protests at abortion clinics.
"I was brought up in a solid family with conservative values," Wasinger says. A Catholic who converted from Protestantism just before junior year at Harvard after reading Augustine's Confessions in a Core class (the Core can do wonders), he goes to mass every day.
If you were the oldest of five sons in the Wasinger family, you too might be one of the campus's most outspoken and reviled conservatives.
What about youthful rebellion? "I don't think the thought has ever crossed his mind," says fellow Kansan and conservative activist Christopher Brown "94, who notes that at Harvard, there is plenty of liberalism to rebel against.
Consider it rebellion or consider it reaction, but there is no question that Wasinger had made his mark over four years on campus.
He was a council member of Peninsula. He was president of the Association Against Learning in the Absence of Religion and Morality (AALARM). He was co-founder of Concerned Christians at Harvard, which sought to remove Gomes from his post as Plummer professor and minister in the Memorial Church because of his preaching that homosexuality was compatible with Christianity.
Waging war conservatism has been Wasinger's primary Harvard activity. He is an non-honors economics concentrator who acknowledge that "my extracurricular has been my academics." Aside from the three far-right wing groups, his other significant extracurricular association has been as a member of the more mainstream Harvard-Radcliffe Republican Club.
He served a brief stint as the representative of Native Americans on the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, but the main fruit of his service there was an article by Wasinger that appeared in Peninsula.
As Wasinger recognizes, Harvard is "a pretty liberal place and not exactly the most receptive to my ideas."