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Monday, Dec. 21, 2015 12:00 pm

The yuletide flood

 I've put this off until the last minute, as so many of us do when it comes to Christmas errands. There's still time, however, to share one of my favorite treats -- Christopher Hitchens on the humbuggery of the season.

These lines appeared originally in The Wall Street Journal of December 24, 2011, and are reprinted in the new posthumous collection of the author's occasional pieces titled, And yet . . . 

I once tried to write an article, perhaps rather straining for effect, describing the experience as too much like living for four weeks in the atmosphere of a one-party state. "Come on," I hear you say. But by how much would I be exaggerating? The same songs and music played everywhere, all the time. The same uniform slogans and exhortations, endlessly displayed and repeated. The same sentimental stress on the sheer joy of having a Dear Leader to adore. As I pressed on I began almost to persuade myself. The serried ranks of beaming schoolchildren, chanting the same uplifting mush. The cowed parents, in terror of being unmasked by their offspring for insufficient participation in the glorious events. . . . "Come on," yourself. How wrong am I?

Not at all, in my view. What CH in other piece described as the "collectivization of gaiety and the compulsory infliction of joy," this time of year is more North Korea than North Pole.

Merry Christmas.


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