This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the original Grand Masters of Science Fiction, Robert A. Heinlein. In that regard, I give you this essay by Spider Robinson, which he wrote back in 1980. I include the relevant portions below: (4) "Heinlein is right wing." This is not always a semantic confusion similar to the "fascist" babble cited above, occasionally the loud nit in question actually has some idea of what "right wing" means, and is able to stretch the definition to fit a man who bitterly opposes military conscription, supports consensual sexual freedom and women's ownership of their bodies, delights in unconventional marriage customs, champions massive expenditures for scientific research, suggests radical experiments in government, and has wiwritten with apparent approval of anarchists, communists, socialists, technocrats, limited-franchise republicans, emperors and empresses, capitalists, dictators, thieves, whores, charlatans and even career civil servants (Mr. Kiku in The Star Beast). If this indeed be conservatism, then Teddy Kennedy is a liberal and I am Marie of Romania.
And if there were anything to the allegation, when exactly was it that the conservative viewpoint was proven unfit for literary consumption? I missed it.
(8)"Heinlein is a miltarist." Bearing in mind that he abhors the draft, this is indeed one of his produest boasts. Can there really be people so naive as to think that their way of life would survive the magic disappearance of their armed forces by as much as a month? Evidently; I meet 'em all over.
(9) "Heinelein is a patriot." (Actually, they always say "superpatriot." To them there is no other kind of patriot). Anyone who sneers at patriotism-and continues to live in the society whose supporters he scorns-is a parasite, a fraud, or a fool. Often all three.
Patriotism does not mean that you think your country is perfect, or blameless, or even particularly likeable on balance; nor does it mean that you serve it blindly, go where it tells you to go and kill whom it tells you to kill. It means that you are committed to keeping it alive and making it better, that you will do whatever seems necessary (up to and including dying) to protect it whenever you, personally, perceive a mortal threat to it, military or otherwise. This is something to be ashamed of? I think Heinlein has made it abundantly clear that in any hypothetical showdown between species patriotism and national patriotism the former, for him would win hands down. Heinlein supported Barry Goldwater's candidacy in 1964, attracted as he was to Goldwater's vision of rugged individualism. He also supported Regan's Strategic Defense Initiative, attracted as he was to Reagan's belief in a strong national defense. One wonders what he would have made of George W. Bush. Not much, I'm afraid.