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A Dictator's Christmas Carol, Part 1

(Apologies to Charles Dickens, James Ellroy, and Louis-Ferdinand Celine)


The following manuscript was found in a cache
of stolen documents, nestled between execution orders and ledgers detailing illegal funds siphoned from international aid programs.


The holiday  inches closer and the masses prepare for it, and they seem happy, or at least content with their lot, living under a dictatorship.


I make that last observation every year and it puzzles me. But I let it go. No need to obsess over it, even if I cannot understand how anyone could be content being ruled by another. This is no ordinary tin-pot autocracy; the peoples' means of earning a livelihood, their media access, travel, ability to express ideas, all of it controlled and restricted. Yet I see them even now, hanging wreaths, setting mangers, trimming trees … pouring rum in their egg nog, casual and distracted, as if secret police are not sharing their good will toast.


(My country is mostly Christian, nominally, and so even I am ‘officially,’ or at least when it’s prudent to appear so. But I have no use for turning the other cheek.)


I find all this holiday cheer strange … I’d never show my face at a party if someone held the power of life and death over me. But then I don’t have that problem because I’m THE DICTATOR. Richard M. Tater, at your service (but not really).

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