Response to Jeet Heer’s Review of Patterson’s Heinlein Biography

This work is intended as a reply to an article by Jeet Heer, that I found to be an exceptionally unscholarly and partisan attack on the author Robert A. Heinlein and his authorized biographer William Patterson. Here is a link to the article I am specifically responding to:

https://sanseverything.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/the-problems-with-pattersons-heinlein-biography/

Heer also wrote a different article on the same subject for The New Republic which is linked here:

https://newrepublic.com/article/118048/william-pattersons-robert-heinlein-biography-hagiography

I will drop URLs through this response to that article and other information to reference how one can get to the reference material and check my sources, which I should note Heer largely fails to do. In some cases you may need to buy the material as I did.

Heer stated “In no particular order” but I following Heer’s order so this can be an organized reply, and the reader can reference Heer’s document.

Item #1. “Lack of curiosity about Heinlein’s ties to the far right. Heinlein wrote an article for the October 1960 issue of The American Mercury.”

Reference the Heinlein Archives:

https://www.heinleinarchives.net/

From this website I downloaded the original manuscript (opus 137 is the filename to help you find it on the site, it is ~ $2.50 to download) and the correspondence between the editor of “The American Mercury” (TAM from now on) and Heinlein’s agent Mr. L. Blassingame, and Mr. Heinlein.

First off by the dates of the first correspondence back from TAM which was to Blassingame, not to Heinlein it is abundantly clear that the editor of TAM did not directly contact Mr. Heinlein at the time, and probably did not have his address. This indicates the article was submitted to TAM by Blassingame.

Further the Patterson Bio indicates that Mr. Heinlein was either in Alaska en-route back from Europe (over the pole), or had only recently made it back from Alaska by August of 1960 date of the letter back to Blassingame. To me this strongly suggests Mr. Heinlein sent the manuscript to Mr. Blassingame and told him to find a market for it. Heer presents zero evidence to support his position other than that Heinlein published one article, one time in TAM.

My position is that Heinlein never chose TAM as a market and had not “ties” to them prior to or after this sale. Support for this position is that:

1. Heinlein never wrote another article for TAM.
2. Heinlein’s well known anti-antisemitism, he was known to have falsely asserted he was half-Jewish when friends of his had made anti-Semitic comments, then sever the relationship. Ref: Patterson Biography.
3. Heinlein’s well known propensity to aggressively market for money everything he wrote for publication, along with the fact that he wrote the Pravda article in a rage in Finland having just left the USSR, on a borrowed Swedish typewriter, and did not have good communications with the USA at the time (this was 1960 after all). Ref: Volume 2 Patterson Biography.
4. Also that TAM’s antisemitism was not well known at that time (summer 1960), especially as anti-Semitic publications were more common then than now.
5. I conjecture that neither Heinlein, nor Blassingame were aware of any significant anti-Semitic articles in TAM as of those dates (spring & summer 1960), as compared to the background noise in American literature of that era.
6. Heinlein did little or no marketing work for himself by this point in his life, he let Blassingame do it so obviously the choice to submit to TAM was almost certainly Blassingame’s choice and was probably made from commercial motives.
7. We have zero evidence that Heinlein contacted TAM other than respond to editorial review after TAM agreed to buy the manuscript.

Heinlein cannot be expected to keep up with which publications some writer whom seems to be bucking to be a member in good standing of the Political Correctness Gestapo in 2015 thinks he should snub.

The claim of “ties to the far right” in this one sale of a manuscript is nonsense on stilts. Literary agents were not, and are not strong on political correctness, especially not in 1960, especially those feeding families on commission sales of manuscripts.

Item # 2Obscuring Heinlein’s sympathy for the John Birch Society.” – that is just nonsense on stilts by Mr. Heer. Patterson did no such thing.

Patterson documented Heinlein’s interest in and sympathy for the JBS quite well. Five separate references to the JBS in the second volume of the Patterson bio, and a specific discussion of their meeting with Mr. Welsh, and that Heinlein had donated to the organization. The claim that Patterson hid Heinlein’s relationship with the JBS is a patent falsehood.

Then Mr. Heer wrote quote – Heinlein described the John Birch Society as a “fascist organization” but he also thought they were far preferable to liberals or moderate conservatives. “But if I am ever forced to a choice between the John Birch Society and its enemies, I know which side of the barricades I belong on,” Heinlein wrote a friend in 1961. “I’ll be on the same side the John Birch Society is on – because my enemies are on the other side.” (volume 2, p. 553 endnote 91) Surely this astonishing letter, which casts a real light on Heinlein’s politics, shouldn’t have been buried in the endnotes. – end quote.

This is deliberate, and I think quite malicious, quoting out of context on the part of Mr. Heer. Adding a little bit more context of the quote from the Patterson Bio shows what I mean – Quote – A year later (1960), Heinlein wrote, “… we both feel that he (Welch) has been getting steadily worse, losing his judgment, this past year, and we are not renewing our subscription.” This kind of “fascist organization” was not something they wanted to be associated with, so they asked that their names be removed from the membership rolls. – End Quote. Heer snips all context from the first part of the quote showing that Heinlein was disillusioned with Welch and the JBS, where Heer snips all but two words and implies that Heinlein’s intent is the exact opposite of what it was in fact. Note the internal quote marks on “fascist organization”.

One might write for example that “Jeet Heer is a real gentleman and a scholar as well.” then compare that to “Jeet Heer is a real “gentleman” and a “scholar” as well.” In the first the words are meant to be take seriously, in the second is heavy sarcasm, implying that Mr. Heer is anything but a gentleman and scholar. By his careful quoting out of context Heer removes the intended sarcasm from the quote that negates the accusation of the JBS being fascist.

Heinlein was almost always very precise in his language, and the JBS is not by any reasonable definition a fascist organization. Obnoxious, over-the-top, very aggressive even foaming-at-the-mouth, rabid anti-communist organization who are known to often not be careful to get their facts straight (which is why Heinlein broke with them), they can be described like that truthfully if a bit of hyperbole is allowed.

Fascist nope, sorry that is horse manure.

The second part of the quote by Heer is just as malicious.  See Heer’s snipped quote above the the whole quote here – I think Bob Welch’s methods are puerile and I do not find it worthwhile to support him. But if I am ever forced to a choice between the John Birch Society and its enemies, I know which side of the barricades I belong on. I’ll be on the same side the John Birch Society is on—because my enemies are on the other side. – End quote RAH, letter to Dorothea Faulkner, 07/27/61. Again Heer snips away the context of what Heinlein says in which he is explaining why he no longer wished to associate with the JBS, but is still strongly opposed to communism that has murdered more human beings than any other system of government.

Be that as it may, what Mr. Heer seems to be driving at is that Patterson did not condemn Heinlein for non-conformance with political correctness attitudes of 2015 among progressives, and associating with the “evile and satanic” JBS, as the proverbial PC Gestapo of 2015 think everyone should.

People are not required to agree with Mr. Heer’s (or my, or anyone’s) political views, at all. Not Heinlein, not Patterson, not me, not anyone.

That Patterson does not agree with Heer about condemnation of anyone who sympathizes with or supports the JBS is not in any way a problem with the Patterson’s review.

Mr. Heer thinking everyone must agree with his political views is a problem with Mr. Heer’s mind.

For the information of the casual reader who does not have a clue what the John Birch Sociey (JBS) is, they are a mono-manical anti-communist organization. Many argue they are “right wing”, but they disagree with most other right wing organizations on many subjects so that is not a good or honest description. I am not now and never have been associated with them.

They are not however, as an organization, racist, sexist, or bigoted on the subject of religion which a lot of the proverbial PC Gestapo like to imply. They have in fact been attacked by real right-wing extremists for not being racist, or sexist and for not being antisemitic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_Society

—Quote from the site—
Antisemitic, racist, anti-Mormon, anti-Masonic groups criticized the organization’s acceptance of Jews, non-whites, Masons, and Mormons as members. These opponents accused Welch of harboring feminist, ecumenical, and evolutionary ideas.[48][49][50] Welch rejected these accusations by his detractors: “All we are interested in here is opposing the advance of the Communists, and eventually destroying the whole Communist conspiracy, so that Jews and Christians alike, and Mohammedans and Buddhists, can again have a decent world in which to live.”[51]
—End Quote of site—

In my opinion they have engaged in excessive behavior in accusing people of being communists without enough evidence. However, I submit they have every excuse for not playing with a full deck.

For example, say you witnessed several members of your family being murdered by communists, and know that a world wide communist conspiracy did, and does in fact exist, and that they have murdered millions of people (about 150 million people during the 20th century according to peer reviewed academic literature), that just might tend to make you more than a bit nuts on the subject.

Attacking persons for sympathizing with the JBS’s motives is over the top obnoxious behavior on the part of Mr. Heer. 150 million murders can excuse a lot of grief and rage. One should not expect sympathy for Nazis from Jews or other people the Nazis harmed. For the same exact reason Communists expecting sympathetic treatment are expecting far too much.

Communists murdered vastly more people than the Nazis did. Note that the numbers on the below link to Rummel’s research exclude war deaths, and judicial executions where the accused was given some vague semblance of due process of law.

https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM

The JBS has made a lot of statements to the effect of implying or outright accusing some persons of being communists. Per the US Constitution you have a right to free speech, and freedom of association, so do they (members of the JBS), so do Patterson and Heinlein.

This (Item #2 ) was not a rational criticism of Patterson’s work. Yes Mr. Heer has the right to say it, and everyone else has the right to tell him he is a moron for it, especially as Patterson very clearly did not do what Heer claimed “Obscuring Heinlein’s sympathy for the John Birch Society.” That is a fabrication on Mr. Heer’s part.

 

Item # 3Uncritical acceptance of Heinlein’s politics.” More nonsense on stilts.

Again: People are not required to agree with Mr. Heer’s political opinions, at all. Not Heinlein, not Patterson, not me, not anyone.

Heer then complain that “Thus Patterson, following Heinlein, accepts the conspiratorial view of Franklin Roosevelt’s Asia policy (that Roosevelt deliberately enticed the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor). Patterson also writes about “the Eisenhower administration’s unnerving international passivity.” (volume 2, p. 570 endnote #1). This is a characterization that one might find in the pages of National Review in 1958 or the John Birch Society in the same year. It’s not a statement any reputable diplomatic historian would endorse.

The bit about reputable diplomatic historian is really cute. Clearly Heer is using an argument from non-existent authority and defines any historian who does endorse his position as non-reputable. I must acknowledge that Mr. Heer’s circular logic, is indeed extraordinarily circular, and very round.

Heer provides zero facts for this discussion only a reference to another progressive [J. Bradford DeLong ] who thinks accusing Heinlein & Patterson each of being “a crazy man yelling at clouds” constitutes “proof” of something.

Another amusing thing is that DeLong writes “Aid to Dependent Children? From a man who drew a government disability pension off of a long-ago resolved TB infection? A great deal does not compute.” This in criticism of Heinlein’s statements in a personal letter arguing against that program among many other things. The problem with DeLongs quip is Heinlein had very serious lung damage from said TB infection and was not able to do the work of a shipboard naval officer, according to the US Navy. Further the US Navy ruled him “totally and permanently disabled” This is from his naval jacket (service record) which can be accessed at the above linked Heinlein Archives.

Further, a pension due to permanent disability of a sailor or soldier is part of his pay, and is a contractual legal debt of the United States Government. “Aid to Dependent Children”, and all other sorts of dole payments, including Social Security, are discretionary spending.

Not by my say so, per the US Supreme court, see Flemmng v Nestor. As in the US Government does not owe any dole payments, and congress can cut off such spending with a simple vote. Congress could not deny Mr. Heinlein’s pension without running into constitutional issues from the full faith and credit clause.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flemming_v._Nestor

It seems astonishing to me that the holder of a PhD in economics who holds a position as a professor in that subject would not understand the difference between dole paid to someone who has never been an employee of the government and has no common law claim to that dole and a pension to a person permanently disabled in government service who is contractually owed the pension. Be that as it my DeLong’s article is here:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2014/06/monday-book-author-weblogging-robert-a-heinlein.html

I suggest that Mr. Heer and/or Mr. DeLong learn to do something they may feel is very personally offensive to them. It involves a four letter word. That word is spelled W.O.R.K., as in gathering facts by research, and stop regurgitating predigested progressive political nonsense. As in try using facts, and reason, not bald assertions and arguments from nonexistent authority.

As an example one might argue that FDR was incompetent or dishonest in his handling of US-Japanese relations leading up to Pearl Harbor.

Fact – Robert A. Heinlein was a professional Naval Officer who attended and graduated from the US Naval Academy.

So had Admiral James Otto Richardson who had strongly protested as commander of the US Fleet in early 1941 over his view that moving the Pacific fleet’s main base from San Diego to Pearl Harbor (demanded by FDR) was dangerous.

Quote “As Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (CinCUS), he protested against the redeployment of the Pacific portion of the fleet forward to Pearl Harbor, believing that a forward defense was neither practical nor useful, and that the Pacific Fleet would be the logical first target in the event of war with Japan, vulnerable to air and torpedo attacks. He was subsequently relieved of command in February 1941.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_O._Richardson

So also was Admiral Robert Alfred Theobald, who commanded large naval operations during the war, and was at Pearl Harbor during the attack. After the war he wrote “The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor: The Washington Background of the Pearl Harbor Attack”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Alfred_Theobald

The point being I have three Professional Naval Officers, two of them Admirals, who are questioning FDR’s motives and/or competence over the decisions he made about the lead up to the war in the Pacific. Probably I could find a lot more. What Jeet Heer asserts he has are “diplomatic historians” and fails to cite even one of them.

It seems rather obvious to me, that if I am questioning the motives or competence of FDR in the lead up to the Pacific war, which was almost 100% a naval war, that the opinion of professional naval officers trump “diplomatic historians” who very well may not be able to honestly judge the competence of FDR’s decisions.

I have already indirectly indicated another fact, that FDR moved the base of the Pacific Fleet from San Diego California to Pearl Harbor Hawaii. That was documented in the link on Admiral Richardson. This below link is a letter from Admiral Harold R. Stark to Admiral J. O. Richardson, dated 27 May 1940, in reply to Richardson’s protests against this move.

http://ibiblio.org/pha/congress/Vol%2033%20PDFs/Vol33%20Exh.%2026.pdf
Fact – A commonly repeated assertion by those who claim FDR to have been surprised by the Pearl Harbor attack is that it was not understood that the fleet was actually vulnerable to air attack by the Japanese till after the fact. Here is a letter from FDR’s secretary of the Navy to FDR’s secretary of War in which FDR’s secretary of the Navy asserts that the two highest risks to the Navy at Pearl Harbor are attack by bomber aircraft and attack by torpedo plane aircraft. The letter is dated 24 January 1941, some 10 months before the attack.

http://ibiblio.org/pha/congress/Vol%2033%20PDFs/Vol33%20Exh.%2009.pdf
Fact – The reasons the Japanese had for attacking the USA had a very great deal to do with the policies of the administration of FDR which had been in office since 1933. These include FDR sizing Japanese assets in the USA on 26 July 1941, and embargoing oil sales to Japan and more important, persuading the UK and Netherlands government in exile to follow suite.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/united-states-freezes-japanese-assets

Fact – the embargo imposed by FDR resulted in Japan losing 88% of prior available oil from all sources.

Fact – The Japanese from the first Russo- Japanese war have had a history of surprise attacks on nations they are having diplomatic disputes with. From this history it should be obvious to anyone that if things are getting tense in diplomacy with the Japanese, a very unpleasant surprise visit by the Imperial Japanese Navy is likely.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Japanese_War

Fact – the Japanese Prime Minister asked to have a summit with FDR repeatedly after the embargo and never could never get an actual meeting with FDR. In no small part, because he could not get FDR to meet and negotiate an end to the extremely hostile situation, he was forced to resign in late October 1941, and Tojo who was one of the leaders of the war faction in Japanese politics took his place.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fumimaro_Konoe

These above are well documented historical facts. Heinlein who I think had a high opinion of FDR’s intelligence and ability, and having read Admiral Theobald’s book, interpreted this evidence as to show that FDR deliberately and willfully provoked the Japanese into attacking the USA. In addition you should recall that Heinlein was a professional Naval Officer who had attended war college after graduation from the naval academy. He had also participated in wargames with the US Navy simulating an attack by the IJN on Pearl Harbor, and his opinion is based on works published by senior US Naval officers, and on fact he knew.

Going back to Mr. Delong’s blog, Some of the comments on the blog point out issues of the immense political difficulties the Japanese government would have complying with the demands the Roosevelt Administration placed on them. Others assert the Japanese were responsible for their own moral choices, which is both true and irrelevant.

Forcing the Japanese to comply with our demands, against their will was done. We did it, we went so far as to mass murder civilians using firebombing and nuclear weapons on cities. This was horrifically expensive in terms of lives, human suffering, and enormous amounts of treasure.

The point being that a negotiated settlement would almost surely be much cheaper, in lives, suffering and treasure. Yes this would almost surely mean Japan retains control of Korea, Formosa and large parts of mainland China.

Point of fact neither China nor China and the USA and UK all put together were able to drive the Japanese out of China. It was the USSR coming into the war after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima (and massive firebombing of many Japanese cities) that ended Japanese occupation of China.

The real world cost of defeat of Japan included all Pacific war related deaths and injuries and disabilities, and all economic costs both by governments and private individuals of all involved nations. Add to that the 75 million Chinese dead (plus unknown injuries and disabilities and pecuniary costs), of the Communist take-over of China made possible by the USA weakening Japan such that she could not defend herself.

The idea that a negotiated settlement leaving Japan in possession of Korea, Formosa and Manchuria, and perhaps more of China, and having peace is too expensive set next to the real world cost of the Pacific War is absurd.

My interpretation is that either FDR was deliberately trying to provoke Japan into attacking the USA, or FDR was incompetent, reckless and foolhardy in his handling of relations with Japan. He could have gone a long way toward keeping campaign promises to keep American boys out of war and saved a lot of American (and other) lives by sitting down with Konoe and making a deal that would cost a hell of a lot less American lives and treasure than the Pacific war did. The costs to Chinese, Korean and Japanese peoples would also have been vastly less.

If Mr. Heer has another interpretation such that FDR was not trying to provoke a Japanese attack, and at the same time was not reckless in his handling of the situation, then Mr. Heer should do some W.O.R.K. as in research on facts and explain, with facts and evidence, not bluster, his position, nor should he dismiss the opinions of professional Naval officers who risked their lives fighting for their country and did not raise these issues during the war, and fought in spite of their feelings of betrayal by the Administration.

Back to the issue of “Uncritical acceptance of Heinlein’s politics.” I dispute that Patterson’s acceptance was uncritical, and in any case Heer is expecting people to uncritically accept a nonsensical and virtually fact free version of history, so pot-kettle-black.

 

Item # 4 – “Lack of curiosity about Heinlein’s personal McCarthyism.

First off what “personal McCarthyism” by Heinlein?

Definition from Dictionary.com quote—1. the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, especially of pro-Communist activity, in many instances unsupported by proof or based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence.
2. the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.
— end quote

An implicit part of this definition is that we are speaking of a government, or government official doing this in an official investigation where a person can be compelled by law to testify.

Heer and I, Patterson and Heinlein are or were private individuals. None of us have a legal power to compel testimony under penalty of perjury. I can ask Heer any damn time I want if he is a Communist [I am not, as I just don’t care], or imply that Heer is a Communist, [I am not]. Heer would have absolutely no legal obligation to answer at all, let alone honestly. So he can tell me to piss off, and I can refuse to speak to or do business with him with no “McCarthyism” being involved at all.

Heer’s assertion of the existence of “Heinlein’s personal McCarthyism” is rubbish, and nonsense on stilts.

So by this is Mr. Heer asserting that Robert Heinlein had no right of freedom of association, and that by extension neither do I or Patterson nor the average person?

The only further response I would give to such an assertion is a rude noise.

Second off, Pot-Kettle-Black!! Heer is doing exactly what he accuses Heinlein and Patterson of, that being a lot of merit-less accusations with no evidence.

Major difference, Heinlein actually knew those people he accused of sympathy for communism, and Heer did not know them or Heinlein, or Patterson. I don’t give a flip why Heinlein chose to no longer associate with them. That was his business and none of ours. Nor does Heer “know” Heinlein was wrong on them being communists or sympathetic to them. It is physically impossible for Heer to know that, he is not old enough to have know any of them in that time frame.

Nor is it unreasonable to boycott persons with whom you have strong political differences. Abolitionists commonly engaged in snubbing and boycotts of slave owners during the period where slavery was legal. Communists as a group have murdered ~ 150 million, sounds like a perfectly valid reason to boycott them and anyone sympathetic to them.

 

Item # 5 – “Unfairness to those Heinlein argued with.” – More nonsense on stilts.
Alexei Panshin – This is rubbish. Mr. Panshin as written numerous articles and books on Heinlein and maintains a website stating “his side” of his dispute with Heinlein. Panshin’s “side” as it were, is very, very well documented in public statements by Panshin. Heinlein’s side has not been documented much at all other than by this biography. This biography by Patterson that Heer belittles is nearly the only place you can get Heinlein’s side. As a basic taste only of why it is absurd to get Panshin’s “side” in Heinlein’s official Biography, take Panshin’s essay: “Heinlein: by his Jockstrap”
The first of the below links is to Panshin’s story as to the writing of “Heinlein: by his Jockstrap” which to me seems full of excuses and evasions. The second is the actual article with the title changed.

http://www.panshin.com/critics/Heinleinsex/sexintro.htm

http://www.panshin.com/critics/Heinleinsex/sexrah.htm

In the very first sentence of the article Panshin asserts: “It isn’t true that Robert A. Heinlein is anything as simple or as complicated as a newly revealed, authoritarian exponent of free love.

The problem with this is that Heinlein never was any kind of authoritarian, that the use of the term “authoritarian” as a description of Heinlein, is in my opinion either a calculated insult by Panshin, for what he perceived as earlier slights by Heinlein, or is evidence of Panshin being willfully ignorant of Heinlein’s philosophy. It goes downhill from there. I think that dragging all this up is actually more unfair to Panshin than ignoring him. The more I read of Panshin’s excuses the less respect I have for him.

Panshin was in the scheme of things a minor bit player in Heinlein’s life, with true, a grossly over sized ego. The work was not a bio of Panshin, and Heinlein’s fans were, and are not really very interested in Panshin’s dispute with Heinlein, or in Panshin.

If you look at the 2014 Facebook threads with something like 40 parts written by Panshin about his interactions with Heinlein, (which I only found doing research for writing this article) I think it is Panshin who is the one carrying a grudge and has nursed it now almost 30 years after Heinlein’s death and over 40 years since Heinlein told him off when Panshin tried to inflict his physical presence on Heinlein.

It is in my opinion unquestionable that Panshin has been grossly unfair and abusive to Heinlein, his wife, and his public memory. I would argue that trying to force a meeting qualifies as stalking.

H. Bruce Franklin – Heer is saying that Patterson was unfair to H. Bruce Franklin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._Bruce_Franklin

This being the self-described Maoist who wrote a book entitled “The Essential Stalin: Major Theoretical Writings” in which in the introduction he is quoted from as below (quoting from the below link):

The editor of this volume, a Maoist of the California school, announces that the people of China, Vietnam, Korea, and Albania “consider Stalin one of the great heroes of modern history.” This might, he concedes, be the result of brain-washing, “except that the workers and peasants of the Soviet Union, who knew Stalin best, share this view.” (An assurance as to the people’s opinions in the five above-mentioned countries that rests on the Bruce Franklin Opinion Poll.) He also declares that “the nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany . . . actually one of the most brilliant strategic moves of Stalin’s life.” He defends the Moscow trials “by facing the facts that an anti-Soviet conspiracy did exist within the Party.” He believes that Stalin’s Marxism and Linguistics is a “major theoretical work.” He knows that during Stalin’s forced collectivization “needless violence” occurred, not, however, as a result of government policy but because “it was the hour of Russia’s peasant masses.” Unfortunately, after Stalin died, the Soviet Union fell prey to “a new capitalist class,” but for this Stalin cannot be held responsible, since Mao has praised Stalin as a “genius” and that settles it.
https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/uncle-joes-nephew

This H. Bruce Franklin is the one Heer accuse Patterson of being “unfair” to. The one who thinks communism is peachy-keen and edits books by mass murderers, and writes apologies for said mass murderers. Heer questions whether someone is being fair to him in reporting that he has also been accused of academic dishonesty by a third party.
I am reminded of the Tom Lehrer Irish Ballad.

and when at last the police came by, her little pranks [the murder of everyone else in her family] she could not deny, to do so she would have had to lie!, and lying she knew was a sin.

Sarcasm on: H. Bruce Franklin would never consider doing something legal, but ethically a bit shady to help his political agenda and at the same time harm his business competitors, it is not like he writes apologia for mass murderers. Sarcasm off.  Seriously, I think H. Bruce Franklin is a real ideological communist and would sneer at any holding back from such as bourgeois sentimentality.

This supposed unfairness being Patterson, not accusing Franklin of anything at all, but simply reporting the fact that another person (Stover) was reporting that Franklin had spiked the talk at the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention.  Also it seems that Heer missed that Patterson also reports that one Prof. French said that Franklin had duplicitous intentions of attacking Heinlein and his work in the Biography of Heinlein, Franklin wrote (Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction) from the start before he contacted Heinlein. This being from the Patterson biography (Chapter 32, volume 2 itunes edition, Reference Note 44).

Heer claims that Patterson did not confirm this. How can he know that Patterson did not confirm that?  Patterson could have confirmed that Franklin spiked the talk from other sources. He need not confirm this from Franklin to be fair and honest. He could have asked other sources at the MLA. He could have confirmed Franklin’s intentions by questioning Prof. French and perhaps others who knew Franklin from the period where Franklin wrote that work. Even if he did not, so what? He just reported what others said, he did not assert the statements were accurate.

Arthur C. Clarke – Heer claims “ Patterson conveys the false impression that Clarke came to accept Heinlein’s arguments. No that is nonsense. Patterson did not attempt to convey that Clark agreed with Heinlein on whether SDI should be done, what Clark did come to accept was the argument Heinlein made that the means Americans choose to defend of the USA was really none of his business. That Clark was behaving with classical British arrogance in thinking he has a right to tell Americans how to run their own country.
This whole section on “unfairness” is Heer just engaging in nonsense on stilts, and Pot-Kettle-Black, except we do not know for sure if Patterson did what Heer accuse him of. However, we do know Heer did that to Heinlein and Patterson, that is not checking facts.

 

Item # 6 – Unwillingness to consult other secondary sources. Patterson’s account of Heinlein’s relationship with Philip K. Dick differs in one significant detail from that of Dick biography Lawrence Sutin (in his book Divine Invasions). According to Sutin, Heinlein eventually got mad at Dick for asking for money (which Heinlein had lent before). This detail is missing from Patterson.

Well first off nobody is obligated to keep loaning someone money indefinitely. Nor is a scholar obligated to use all possible sources for minor incidents in the life of the subject of a biography. He is supposed to use judgment as to which sources to use. In my opinion for the reasons I give below, I think Sutin is not a reliable source, and that the details of financial arrangements between the Heinlein & Dick families are not an appropriate subject of a biography of Heinlein as a writer.

Be that as it may, I think Heer has not looked at the references. I speak of the letters between Virginia Heinlein and Tessa Dick that are in the Heinlein Archives. I think Heer was unaware that the Dicks broke up as a couple in 1976, and they were living separately by the end of 1976.
The impression I got from the letters was that the Heinleins as a couple were more loaning money to Tessa, not Phillip. This would fit with Robert Heinlein’s sense of propriety that women and children should be coddled and protected, but men, especially single men not supporting women and children should not be.

Did Sutin document when Heinlein refused to loan Philip Dick more money? I have a strong suspicion it was after Phil & Tessa broke up in 1976, and it may be when the Heinleins might have been aiding Tessa. I think really the friendship was between Virginia and Tessa, much more than between Robert & Phil.

I note that before the break-up both Phil & Tessa’s letters were typed, and after the breakup no letters from Phil are in the file, and all Tessa’s letters are hand written. I think it logical that a professional writer would keep his typewriter, but Tessa had been trying to break into SF writing. Vastly more letters between Virginia and Tessa, and a few from Robert to Tessa, relatively few from Phil.

As to the not consulting with other sources bit, I think that he had all the evidence that he needed to put together what I have, and he considered this irrelevant to a biography of Robert Heinlein as a writer, which I agree with.

Also Tessa Dick states rather emphatically much later that she does not think much of the Sutin’s Biography of Philip K. Dick.

http://www.dickien.fr/dossiers/tessadick/interview-tessa-dick.html

Quote Tessa Dick from above weblink – “I read Larry Sutin’s biography of Phil many years ago, and I was not favorably impressed by it. Sutin gives the impression that he interviewed me extensively, but he never interviewed me. I did send him brief answers to three questions in a letter, but that was the only contact that he had with me. He used quotes from other people’s interviews with me and gave the impression that they were his own work.” -end quote.
The letters between the Heinleins and Dicks are in file corr332b-02

https://www.heinleinarchives.net/

Item #7 – “Lack of empathy for Leslyn Heinlein”. More nonsense on stilts. The impression I get from the biography is of a couple very, very much in love with each other and problems in their relationship, including especially her mental health issues, getting completely out of control of either of them. My impression from the Patterson biography is of Robert deeply heartbroken at the necessity of leaving her. That her mental illness was causing her to have strong suicidal tendencies that Robert being near her exacerbated.

Thus if he loved her, he must leave her for her own safety and mental health. I would say that this influenced his later writing, especially his definition of love being putting the interests of the object of your love above your own. The psychiatrist they were seeing in effect told him that to help her he must leave her, per the Patterson biography. The fact is she got better after he left tends to show the psychiatrist was right.

I do not see Leslyn other than with sympathy for her illness, and the enormous psychological pain she must have felt. She wrote a lot of poison pen letters later, she was angry and Robert simply took it without reply or complaint as arguing with her would not help either of them, and he did not want to hurt her. She was not a villain, she was ill and angry and venting. That is from my reading of the Patterson Biography.

The lack of empathy for Leslyn is all in Heer’s mind in my opinion. I think this is from an unjustified and irrational animus Heer holds for Heinlein because of Heinlein’s politics.

As an example of improper personal attacks, Karl Marx has often been attacked for having been a pretty awful father and husband, and an alcoholic. Which is actually true and well documented, but irrelevant to Marx’s works. Heer is engaging in ad hominem attacks on Heinlein and Patterson which are as far as I can tell are mostly nonsensical fabrications.

Heer’s conjectures and those of Stover sound like sexism to me. Quote – Was Leslyn happy with the open marriage arrangement she had with Heinlein? That’s a crucial question which Patterson skirts. – End quote. Nonsense. No evidence at all exists to suggest that Leslyn was unhappy with the open marriage arrangement at the time she married Robert.

Leslyn was a very attractive financially stable, professionally secure young woman at the time she married Robert. She had a lot of choices open to her. To think that she was going into a companionate open marriage and did not actively want to, is ludicrous. Oh, and by the way she was a registered Republican at the time she married Robert (Volume 1 start of Chapter 12) contrary to what Mr. Heer stated.

The evidence Leslyn was unhappy with the open marriage later is sketchy at best. That she felt jealous and possessive about Robert over Virginia does not at all mean that she wanted a monogamous relationship or an end to their open relationship, she just wanted Virginia gone. Polyamory can be complex. That monogamous relationships are more common has more to do with them being simpler, and needing less  maintenance than with people being hard-wired for them.

One might imagine the polyamorous sports car that is very expensive and always needs a lot of repair, and expensive maintenance work vs the cheap reliable low maintenance monogamy station-wagon that is no where near as much fun. Having experienced both, I think that is a pretty accurate assessment.

The only way a person gets to think that a woman who is obviously capable to support herself, is extremely intelligent and attractive and seems quite secure, must have been coerced into “wife-swapping” more correctly non-monogamous but open sexual relationships, is if that person has consciously or unconsciously bought into a “Madonna -Whore” dichotomy of female sexuality.

As in that women are never interested in sex with men for it’s own sake with multiple partners, that women only submit to the will of men, that women only feel “love” in a “Madonna” Agape sort of love, that only “Whores” pretend to like sex with men to get money or something else from them. That women actually don’t like sex with more than one man in and of itself for itself.

A woman can be in love with more than one man at a time and can enjoy having sex with multiple men for the sake of sex. Perhaps a few women cannot physically enjoy sex with men, but they are not all women, nor even a large fraction of all women. To suggest that women in general cannot enjoy, and want to have sex with multiple male partners is ridiculous and sexist.

Further quote – In an endnote, Patterson notes that Leon Stover in his unpublished Heinlein biography argued that Leslyn’s alcoholism, signs of which were evident during World War II, was a product of her unhappiness at enforced wife swapping. – end quote.

What enforced wife swapping? Is Heer asserting Heinlein held a gun to his wife’s head to “enforce” wife-swapping? That is how he comes across.

No evidence of this exists other than in the ugly imagination of sexist prudes. I will not dignify that nonsense with any further discussion.

 

Item # 8Lack of psychological curiosity.

What does Heer think “proper psychological curiosity” would look like? Me, I think it unwise to take Freud seriously as Heer seems to. Good psychology/psychiatry is now a lot more about treating chemical imbalances than BS theories about sex and taboos in repressed childhood trauma. Also even talk therapy is way, way beyond Freud. The issues are more about helping the patent to understand irrational feelings, and from that help him learn to accept his or herself as they are, and make rational decisions.

For example like Heer learning that people who disagree with him about politics usually have reasons to do so. That such persons are not stupid or out to get him.

That learning to understand the political opposition’s position is necessary to any attempt to change their minds, and that by actually learning their positions your may understand better why they disagree with you.

An irrational fear of being wrong, along with an irrational reluctance to unlearn old falsehood can be quite dangerous. Such as you think others have nefarious motives for their actions that you do not agree with, rather than that they are just doing what they think is right.

I do not see utility to the biography added by any such “psychological curiosity” about that sort of “psychology”.

 

Item #9Over-reliance on Heinlein’s letters.

I would have to disagree totally with that. Patterson is not regurgitating letters, I think he read all or most of them with the intention of trying to reconstruct Heinlein’s life, thoughts and intentions.

Heer’s ideas about his relationship with Phil Dick suffered from a deep lack of understanding because he had not read the letters. Once you understand that they were loaning money more to Tessa than to Phil, and that the close friendship was more between Virginia and Tessa than between Robert and Phil the refusal to loan Phil money later makes a lot more sense and is not about getting “mad at Dick”. Nor was it really relevant to a biography of Heinlein the writer.

 

Item #10 Oafish writing.

As Oafish as Heer’s? Don’t think so.

 

Item #11Organizational problems

I read both the article I replied to and others by Jeet Heer including the one he references about the Heinlein Biography by Patterson. Heer’s work seems largely fact free and totally undocumented in terms of providing facts. Note that providing a link to someone else who agrees with you, but also engages in fact free argument and name calling, is not documenting a fact. So I do not see Heer having any room to speak on this issue at all.

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