He's Got Flag Smeared All Over His Face

July 03, 1995|By RICK HOROWITZ

"Desecration,'' sure. But what about ''digestion''?

You've got to admire the way the political classes organize their lives. Just when you think they're so busy balancing budgets and valuing families and contracting America and the like that they haven't a moment to spare, they somehow find the time to stand up for Old Glory, too.

Hats off to the U.S. House of Representatives (a.k.a. ''Flags R Us, Especially Around Major National Holidays'') for summoning up the courage, not to mention the 312 votes, to pass a constitutional amendment keeping the Stars and Stripes out of harm's way.

Assuming the Senate goes along (assume -- they like being re-elected as much as the next guy), this teeny-tiny alteration of the Bill of Rights goes off to the states for ratification, while the politicians in question go off to the neighborhood gazebo to wax patriotic.

And just in time for the Fourth of July -- what a coincidence!

The last time they tried this sort of thing, a few years back, it was only a law they were passing, and the Supreme Court said, ''No can do; it's unconstitutional.'' So this time -- no dummies, these folks -- they're changing the Constitution:

''The Congress and the States shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.''

Short and sweet. And simply pointless (or do you really consider flag burning one of the Pressing Problems of Our Day?), instead of pointless and complicated. This time, you see, Congress gets the credit, but somebody else gets to do the heavy lifting. This time, you see, Congress is leaving it up to each of the 50 states to decide what ''desecration'' means -- and, for that matter, even what ''flag'' means.

A pity. Fifty different state legislatures wrestling with the subject, somebody's going to miss the Cool Whip flag.

You haven't seen the Cool Whip flag? The Cool Whip Flag Cake, actually. It's been on TV. It's been in the women's magazines. It's been all over the place. Strawberry halves for the red. Cool Whip for the white. Blueberries for the blue. And all of it laid out -- politically correct and appetizing as all get-out -- on your basic Sara Lee.

''They'll All Want Seconds On The Fourth,'' the magazine ad says, and on TV, isn't that Mom passing out the slices and Junior scarfing down a mouthful? He's got flag smeared all over his face -- flag! -- and he couldn't care less.

And in Nevada or Tennessee or Massachusetts or somewhere, Junior's going to get away with it. They'll put plenty of stern stuff in there about flag burning and flag trampling and such, but they'll forget all about flag eating, which is a much bigger problem.

I mean, there aren't a dozen cases of flag burning a year in the entire country. But flag eating? There'll be hundreds. There'll be thousands. One look at that Cool Whip Flag Cake sitting out on a picnic table, and everything our brave men and women have fought for for centuries will go right out the window. If they're not going to crack down on that, they might as well scrap the whole idea. This partway patriotism is just too hard to swallow.

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. His e-mail address is horowitzomnifest.uwm.edu.

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