Jerry Hough's walk of shame

One thing unmentioned in the “controversy,” I guess the term is, over Jerry Hough’s remarks concerning black separatism is his lengthy history as an apologist for the Soviet Union.

Jerry Hough is a man who spent much of his career falling over himself to provide cover for Soviet crimes and misbehavior.  His current travails are prime evidence of how far the left has deviated from its own due north.

Like J. Arch Getty, Hough was a latter-day academic supporter of the USSR, part of a cadre that came to prominence during the Reagan years, as an opponent of any realistic assessment of the Soviet Union and the policy needed to confront it.

Hough was notorious among Sovietologists for his 1979 “revision” of Merle Fainsod’s How Russia is Ruled, for many years the standard work on Soviet governmental practice.  Fainsod had no illusions about the USSR, which he portrayed as a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by terror.  Hough’s reworking, fetchingly titled How the Soviet Union is Governed, converted Fainsod’s clear-eyed analysis to the standard daffodils-and-butterflies take of the period.  It seriously annoyed much of the Sovietological community, among them Richard Pipes, who wrote,

[The book] is for all practical purposes, a new book which incorporates large chunks of Fainsod (often suitably “cleansed”) but which in all essential respects departs from him, and, indeed, takes a diametrically opposed view of the subject.

Nonetheless, publication made Hough a go-to figure for mass media as involved the USSR.  When Yuri Andropov took over the helm of Russia, Hough stated:

The selection of Yuri Andropov as the leader of the Soviet Communist Party portends major changes in Soviet foreign policy, almost surely towards détente.

In truth, nothing at all changed, and Andropov, an old-school Stalinist responsible for 30,000 deaths in Hungary in 1956, doubled down on the regime’s policies, both domestic and foreign.  Every single prediction made by Hough – that Andropov would pull troops from Europe and Afghanistan, revive détente, and relieve Cold War tensions – was quickly proven false.

To top it off, a few years later, he portrayed Mikhail Gorbachev as a “hard-liner” with an entourage of cold-hearted Party ideologues.

With a record like this, it’s a wonder that Hough feels justified in commenting on anything.  (Particularly since he’s wrong concerning at least one of his pieces of evidence for black separation – the extravagant names often given to black children.  Years ago, I asked a young black mother how she’d chosen a particular name of the “Ruritania” type.  She replied that she wanted her daughter to have a unique name unlike anyone else’s.  This is perfectly understandable and has absolutely nothing to do with black racism.)

Hough’s ordeal tells us a few things about the current left:

  •  Everything is race – while in no way novel, this is yet another example of how race now constitutes the totality of American leftism, with everything and everyone – even their own – judged by racial standards so abstruse and exacting as to astonish previous generations of racists.
  • Prior services don’t matter – Hough was a general in the vast army of academics recruited to oppose Ronald Reagan’s efforts to revive the United States.  He did what was required of him in the media and academic fields, no matter what its effect on his scholarly reputation.  That’s all down the memory hole.  Hough said a Bad Thing about people of color, which has transformed him into the 21st-century equivalent of the Imperial Dragon and requires that he be punished to the absolute limit.
  • The left eats its own – this pretty much speaks for itself, but it can’t be repeated often enough.  The left has no respect for those who have served it most fully.  As was true in France in the 1790s, in the USSR in the 1930s, and in China in the 1960s, anyone who works with the left can expect to be turned on at any time, for any reason whatsoever.

It’s possible to feel sympathy for Hough, a very aged man with little to show for a lengthy career.  But I can’t help but think of those Party officials who failed to swerve fast enough when the Kremlin changed its line and died in some godforsaken camp in the middle of nowhere, and those dissidents who spent years in KGB “mental institutions” for the crime of speaking their minds.  In his eagerness to praise the Soviet Union, Jerry Hough ignored them all.  What went around has come around.