Not To Speak Is To Speak, Not To Act Is To Act

The only thing that progressives do is make things progressively worse. 

                                                                                         –Greg Gutfeld  

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Published July 14, 2021

By James V. Ferguson, MD (contributor to the Tennessee Conservative) –

Writers speak of “writer’s block,” where the creative literary enterprise metaphorically hits a wall. Instead of being inhibited or blocked, my current situation may be one of exhaustion. After all, I’ve been doing this weekly 1000 word column for thirteen years. Last week’s column was number 710. Maybe 710,000 words is enough.  Some people think that is more than enough.  

And then a friend asked me if I was over the 2020 election and the Trump presidency. 

My first reaction was one of anger, but I resisted a verbal SmackDown of this individual who is not a deep thinker and is a member of the go-along-to-get-along crowd. My tactful response was “No.” I then challenged him with the statement, “I do not accept your premise.” In other words, I do not accept your premise that Trump was bad, the election was fair or that Biden’s handlers are making things better. 

As a student of history, I find it fascinating that things rarely change. Of course, there are different situations, different people and different times, but the same controversies recur. As an example, during the Revolutionary War one third of American colonials fought the British, while another third sided with King George.  

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Interestingly, one third of Americans sat on the sidelines and did nothing. My friend falls within one of the latter two groups, and brings to mind the modern proverb: if you stand for nothing, you’ll believe anything.  

I could have mentioned the rising crime rate in America, censorship of free speech, rising prices and inflation, the engineered border catastrophe, increasing cyber-attacks, racism and wokeness of the left or the dangers of Chinese hegemony with my interlocutor. However, Mr. Vacuous is not one interested in facts or current events. I’m not sure he understood the word premise.  

Mr. Webster defines premise as something assumed or taken for granted or a presupposition. In other words, I did not accept my friend’s premise that everything is fine, and surely, I must be over the 2020 election by now. I am not. I am no quisling. I am an American patriot serving his “tour of duty” in this new American Civil War.  

I often tire of the conflict, and have passing thoughts of disengaging. After all, my time is just about over. My friend excused his disengagement by saying, “There’s nothing I can do, and I have a good life.” I thought, “Good gosh, man! Is the future of your children and grandchildren not worth fighting for?” 

In recent months, I’ve been using quotes as headers for my essays. Struggling to maintain my composure with Mr. Vacuous, I thought of the quote I used some weeks ago by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran minister and theologian who resisted the Nazis in World War II Germany. It bears repeating: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” 

As Abraham Lincoln said in his 1863 Gettysburg address, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” In 2021 we are not shooting at each other, yet we are engaged in a war of ideas.  

I do not accept the premise that America is racist, though some individuals are. I do not accept the premise that some lives matter more than others or the color of one’s skin entitles someone to benefits or reparations. I do not accept the premise that speech or ideas should be suppressed by Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. or that some ideas are “authoritative” and others are not.  

I renounce “wokeness” in corporations and the military (General Mark Milley). I renounce anarchists like BLM, Antifa and unfortunately many college students and professors, school boards, mayors and elected officials who champion the ridiculous New York Times 1619 project and critical race theory. Critical race theory is inherently racist and wrong.  

I have never been in a shooting war, so I could never be an expert on the subject. 

However, I hold the experiential observations of men like Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower in high regard. Both have been quoted to say that planning for battle is important, but once the battle begins, plans are useless. I know something about medical resuscitations. My experience bears out the same observations of these great generals. We are engaged in a war against a perverse ideology.  

I don’t know whether America will make it or will go on the ash heap of history like countless other civilizations. The poem Ozymandias by Shelley speaks to this.  

Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.” I know that America will not survive if good men do not stand up and say No! to the bad leaders in Knoxville, Tennessee and Washington.  

Several weeks ago I wrote an essay entitled The Fourth Great Awakening. (If you missed the essay you can find it in the Knoxville Focus archives at  

Apparently leftist school boards are being challenged on teaching critical race theory in places like Virginia and elsewhere. People are standing up and saying NO to the destructive, anti-American, progressive agenda. My wife Becky has become a patriot opposing these crazies. I’m proud of her, and kid her that she has become an Amazon-like warrior! 

Join us and say “NO!” to leftism. It is our time and “tour of duty.” Our kids and grandkids need our help. And carefully consider your premise. It may land you in my newspaper column! 

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Editorial originally published in the Knoxville Focus. Reprinted here by permission from the Author.

About the Author:

Jim is a native of Knoxville, practicing Internal Medicine for more than 40 years, prior to retiring in 2020.

Along with learning to become a “gentleman farmer,” he has written essays for the conservative weekly Knoxville Focus since 2007. 

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