From the November 2005 Idaho Observer:

The Aurora project

American Aurora

After a decade of in-print dissidence, we have gotten very intimate with the enemy. We know him very well, in fact, because he is us. It is personally rewarding for the handfuls of us dissident types sprinkled all over the world to find out what has been happening to us at critical junctures throughout history. We have learned our lessons so well that we are all pretty sure what happens next and what happens to independent thinkers when the totalitarians take total control of a nation.

Ironically, the same obstacle preventing ruthless, war-mongering fascists from gaining total control of our world is the same one that delays the dawn of an era defined by peace, justice and goodwill to all men: The masses.

Truth and justice-oriented thinkers have always dreamed of a world comprised of strong, self-reliant, principled, thinking people. Tyrants have forever been feeding the masses steady diets of lies intended to keep them weak, ignorant and dependent.

The paragraph above identifies exactly the relationship between people and governments and the riddle good people must resolve: We must turn our weak, ignorant and dependent countrymen into strong, intelligent beings capable of standing, fearlessly, for what is right and just.

We have no reason to feel a sense of optimism. Every generation of dissidents that have come before us have failed to end tyranny. But we must immerse ourselves in the sense of duty compelling us to teach. Throughout the millennia, God has been sprinkling people like us all over the world and charging us with the task of bringing his children into the light. It is no accident that we think like we do. It is by divine design that we were given the eyes to see and the ears to hear; we have been honored with these gifts and we are obligated to use them as we strive to make the world a better place.

How the project began

In 1998, Patty Neill introduced Don Harkins to a book called "American Aurora." The book shows, by reprinting newspaper articles and correspondence between the Founders during the Revolutionary War era, that our national pride for having built the land of the free from the ashes of British tyranny is built upon fairy tales we’ve been fed as historical fact since kindergarten.

The truth is much more interesting and no less full of deceptions, betrayals and intrigue than a good novel or modern U.S. power politics. In other words, there is more to the revolutionary era than Paul Revere’s ride, Lexington and Concord, Valley Forge and "Don’t shoot ‘til you see the whites of their eyes." George Washington did more in his life before the revolution than cut down a cherry tree.

If you will notice, The IO is dedicated to the memory of Benjamin Franklin Bache, publisher of The Philadelphia Aurora from 1790 until dying of yellow fever in 1798 at age 30. As a child, Bache accompanied his grandfather, Benjamin Franklin, to France during the Revolution where he was exposed to the webs of behind-the-scenes political intrigue guiding events that led to France underwriting the birth of America.

The constitutional ink had barely dried when rights to life, liberty and happiness began giving way to the despotic whims of the president. Worse, U.S. foreign policy was born and by 1794, we had betrayed the commerce and alliance treaty with France, our payment for its help in defeating the British, by signing a commerce and alliance treaty with England, better known as the "Jay Treaty."

To quell rising opposition to these and many other criminally treasonous acts coming as orders from President John Adams through a compliant Congress, the Alien and Sedition acts were passed in 1793. Irish and French nationals were jailed and deported; those talking bad about the president or publishing words in opposition to his policies were punished by imprisonment for libelous sedition.

The true foundations of this country provide us with the insight necessary to better understand where we are today and why things went so horribly wrong.

The purpose of opposition presses

It is with honor that The Idaho Observer has recorded the voices of informed and principled contemporary opposition. In this capacity, we seek the company of history’s most well-intended activists and thinkers; we carry on the tradition of dissent that has been the catalyst for whatever progress civilization has ever made. Throughout history we have always been there, the recorded conscience underlying the eras as they’ve been unfolding, necessary because power corrupts and preys upon the weak.

Our mission is as clear today as it’s always been: To be an effective, principled journalistic check on the policies of nations that do not serve the interests of the people.

We should not be satisfied with merely writing and publishing dissident words and, in the vernacular of the day, hit the send button to feel as if we have accomplished something. We must engage our philosophical enemies and force them into the arena of public debate where their flawed words and deeds can be countered and answered for all to see.

And, so long as our intentions are honorable, we shall not be concerned that what we publish may be offensive to some.

A few more thoughts in honor of the grandfather of American journalistic independence

Benjamin Franklin, the father of American print dissidence, left us with many creative journalistic models to follow and a grandson who epitomizes what we must accomplish with our contrarian energies today. Among the legacies Ben Franklin left to us are the following excerpts from a standing explanation and excuse for ourselves:

"Being frequently censur’d and condemn’d by different Persons for printing Things which they say ought not be printed, I have sometimes thought it might be necessary to make a standing Apology for myself and publish it once a Year to be read upon all Occasions of that Nature...

"I request all who are angry with me on Account of printing things they don’t like calmly to consider these following Particulars:

* That the Opinions of Men are almost always as various as their faces...

* That the Business of Printing has chiefly to do with Men’s Opinions; most things that are printed tending to promote some or opposite others...

* That it is unreasonable in any one Man or Set of Men to expect to be pleas’d with every thing that is printed...

* Printers are educated in the Belief that when Men differ in Opinion, both sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter...

* That if all Printers were determin’d not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed...

So, we live in a time that is no different than any other time. As has always been, there is the traditional and historic need that dissenting voices must be recorded in opposition journals. What is different is the scope and scale of what good people must, with all their strength, wit and wisdom, oppose. We will not sit idly by while our planet and her people are raped, murdered and destroyed.

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