Mar. 19th, 2017

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To the illustrious President Snow:

It is with some pain that we find ourselves forced to broach this topic. We had hoped that as the course continued you would realize the necessity of coming clean to us, but alas, we have reached the point where we can prevaricate no longer, and still you have not confessed, so we are forced to say: we know that you lied to us about District 13.

We confess ourselves baffled, President Snow. Not baffled that you lied to us - any good dictator lies - but baffled that you told this particular lie, not only to us, but to your people as well. District 13 could be so very useful to you, President Snow!

Oh, sure, we know you think they’re useful to you now - a warning to your other districts what will happen if they rebel. Nuked out of existence, like District 13! But this is simply one more example of your wrong-headed attitude toward fear. You subscribe - forgive us for our bluntness - to the one-dimensional cod-Machiavellian belief that it is better to be feared than loved.

Well, maybe. But what’s best of all, President Snow, is for your subjects to love and fear you in equal measure, as if you were an overbearing father who nonetheless occasionally doles out a few crumbs of love. They may cower from you when they’ve done something wrong, but when there are enemies at the gate, nonetheless they’ll run to you for protection.

But to protect your people from outside enemies, you need to have some outside enemies in the first place, and District 13 seems to be your only option. But what an option it is! District 13 is a truly top-notch enemy, President Snow, exactly the kind of rival we would have designed for you if someone had given us the chance.

They are weaker than you - always a plus in an enemy - but nonetheless truly terrifying because of their nuclear capacity. Simply mentioning the threats of nuclear annihilation they have leveled against Panem ought to be enough to bring your terrified subjects in line.

We realize these threats are the reason why you haven’t told your people of District 13’s existence, but frankly, those threats are clearly a bluff and we’re embarrassed that you haven’t had the guts to call it. District 13 is small, resource-poor, and all in all much more easily wiped off the map than sprawling Panem. It is not going to risk its own annihilation just because you tell your people of its continued existence.

And they make such a delightful contrast to Panem! No need to exaggerate imaginary differences between your two nations: District 13’s militarized, highly mechanized society could hardly be a greater contrast to free-wheeling, fun-loving, Games-running Panem. They’re Sparta to Panem’s Athens - and a starving Sparta at that. They’re stodgy gray East Berlin to Panem’s decadent West. We bet some of them are just dying to defect.

Think of the intelligence coup you’ll score when they do! You just have to make defection a bit easier for them, and step one is simply admitting they exist.

This Cold War metaphor gives us another thought: spies! What better way to keep your people in line than a good spy scare? And it will be especially easy to whip one up because District 13 still has so much in common with the rest of Panem. They look like you, speak like you, could be sneaking among you even as we speak, soaking up information, looking for weak points, pretending to be your friends and neighbors and all the while plotting your destruction.

You might want your spy agency to look into this for real - quietly, of course. Spy scares are good for social control but poor at flushing out actual spies.

And a spy scare would be a wonderful distraction from the tiresome antics of Katniss Everdeen and her supposed lover, that Peeta fellow. Perhaps you could arrange to arrest Katniss’s friend Gale Hawthorne as a spy? He’s certainly spent enough time outside of District 12: everyone’s seen those bags of game he brought back. Little did they know that this was merely a blind to cover for his real purpose out in the wilds: meeting his spymaster from District 13!

At very least, arresting one of Katniss’s friends ought to make her take you seriously. And if you’re lucky, she’ll unwisely try to fight the arrest - not only connecting herself with a known spy, but making herself look unfaithful to Peeta in the process. We have no doubt that the people will turn on her in a heartbeat if she destroys the love story they’ve enjoyed so much.

Yours,
The Society for Improved Dictatorship

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