Nobody Even Like Remembers East Germany Any More, You Guys

Kevin Ackley and Zac Echola are shown inside the dugout Wednesday, June 19, at Fargo's North Softball Complex. They are members of Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America, a growing organization that formed a coed team to raise visibility and make connections in the community. Chris Flynn / The Forum

A profile of a group of people with fringe views starting a softball team to become better known in their community might be fun if we were talking about Big Foot enthusiasts or ufologists. But when it’s people promoting an ideology which has resulted in millions upon millions of dead bodies an uncritical, credulous newspaper report can be a little galling.

Kim Hyatt’s Fargo Forum story about the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America starting a softball team seems intended to paint an endearing picture of these political extremists. Yet the ugly realities of what these people believe shines even through the soft, fuzzy lens of sympathetic reporting.

“Older generations do have some sort of negative connotation because of the Cold War. Young people just don’t. If you think about it, 20-year-olds today weren’t around even when there was a Berlin Wall,” Zac Echola, one of the organizers for this group, told Hyatt.

He’s not wrong. Many of the young people today who find themselves attracted to the siren song of socialism probably don’t remember the horrors of Soviet-occupied East Germany. A place so terrible that even 25 years after reunification the life expectancy for East Germans still hasn’t quite caught up to those who live in what was West Germany.

Here’s video of people risking life and limb to cross the Berlin Wall.

Many people think President Donald Trump is a terrible person for wanting to build a border wall to keep people out of our country. What can we say of political movement which has to build a wall to keep people in?

Echola says the Soviets are “not what we’re talking about when we talk about socialism. What we’re talking about is making sure people have the things they need to survive and thrive in the world. That appeals to a lot of young people because they need those things, and we’re the ones struggling the most under the system we have.”

The Soviets made those promises too. They vowed to fight racism. To protect the rights of women. To feed and house the poor. Socialists always start with these promises, but once they get control the corruption, violence, and assaults on political dissenters begin.

Socialists are the sort of tyrants who, as C.S. Lewis once wrote, “will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Echola would have us believe that he and his group are adherents to a more moderate form of socialism – as if that were possible – but the t-shirt he chose to wear for his interview undermines that claim.

“Profit is theft,” it says:

Zac Echola helped form the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. He now serves on the national steering committee and is gearing up for the national convention in Atlanta the first weekend of August. Echola said it will be the largest convention ever for democratic socialists, which is seeing a surge in membership locally and across the country. Chris Flynn/The Forum

Consider that slogan, for a moment.

Let’s say you like woodworking. Let’s say you buy some materials and tools, invest some of your own time and talent, and build a very nice dining room table. Now let’s suppose you turn around and sell that finished table to someone who appreciates it, someone without the wherewithal to build such a table for themselves, for a price they’re willing to pay that’s more than what it cost you to build the table.

You turned a profit.

Mr. Echola believes that’s theft.

Socialists believe if you profit individually you’re stealing from the collective.

What do you think people like Echola would do if given the power to regulate our society? Do you suppose they’d be respectful of individual rights? Of personal endeavor for personal gain? Or would they seek to impose their rigid ideology on the rest of us, using force if necessary, feeling justified that their actions to conform society to their notions about fairness and justice are for our own good?

They’d probably even need to shut up certain loudmouths guilty of dissent against their glorious political goals. Maybe they’d even call it hate speech. Since they see themselves as advocates for virtue, what else could dissenters be but haters?

Social movements – be they political, religious, etc. – are the most dangerous when their adherents become convinced their ideas are infallible.

There is no more terrible, blood-soaked example of this than socialism.

That some of our modern socialists have formed a softball team, while shrugging off the horrors of their ideological forefathers, doesn’t render their goals benign.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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