Time, Patience and the Flag Amendment

Jun 10, 2010, 10:01 ET from Citizens Flag Alliance

INDIANAPOLIS, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was written by Richard D. Parker, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University and chairman of the board of directors of the Citizens Flag Alliance, Inc.:

"The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." – proposed flag protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Have you forgotten that Supreme Court justices barred us from protecting the American flag from being urinated on or burned?  

Do you remember the flag amendment? The proposed amendment is printed above.  It did not disappear and still awaits action in Congress. If passed by Congress and ratified by three-fourths of the states, it would restore to Congress its century-old power to protect the flag.  

Here's an update. We in the Citizens Flag Alliance, champions of the amendment, were disappointed in 2006 when it came close to passing but fell one vote short in the U.S. Senate.  We were frustrated that congressional committees, since then, refused even to give us a hearing.  But we have never thought of giving up.  We have bided our time.  We have awaited a new opportunity – and our opportunity may now be at hand.

Let me tell you a story.  Actually, it's a story told by the great novelist, Leo Tolstoy, in his novel War and Peace.

It's about the invasion of Russia two hundred years ago by Napoleon.  The French tyrant had conquered central Europe, picking up new armies along the way.  As he moved into Russia, it seemed nothing could stop him.  And, at first, nothing did.

The French conquered their way to the outskirts of Moscow.  The Czar appointed a new general – a very old man named Kutosov.  His troops, battle weary, stood outside Moscow.  Would they give up?

No.  Kutosov accepted reality – for the moment.  He fell back behind the city.  Napoleon went into Moscow.  Kutosov, like George Washington, knew that to keep his cause alive, he must preserve his army and keep it ready for later action.

When the Czar asked for an explanation, he said just three words: "Time and patience."   When his staff objected, he said the same three words: "Time and patience."

What happened then?  The Russian people, themselves refusing to give up, abandoned Moscow – and burned it to the ground on the way out.

When the French entered the city, they found a wasteland.  It was a cold Russian winter.  Nothing to eat.  No shelter.  No warmth.  A change in conditions produced a change in the balance between the two sides.

Now, it was Napoleon who had to retreat – one of the most disastrous retreats in history.  His starving army slogged through the snow.  At that point, Kutosov attacked.

To make a long story short, the Russians drove the French back.  By the time, Napoleon reached Paris, his once overwhelming army – which people "in the know" imagined to be invincible – was reduced to nothing.

It was a victory, on one hand, for a strategy of "time and patience," a strategy of waiting for the right moment, and waiting for conditions to change.  It was a victory, even more fundamentally, for the patriotism of the Russian people.  In fact, Napoleon's most basic blunder was to defy the power of popular patriotism.

Today, the popular cause of restoring power to protect the American flag is in a position like that of the Russian army two centuries ago.  For four years, we in the Citizens Flag Alliance -- made up of 140 grass-roots service organizations -- have bided our time, maintaining readiness and awaiting opportunity.  The upcoming elections offer just this opportunity.

Many Republican and Democratic members of Congress have sponsored and supported the flag amendment in the past.  The task now -- the task of all citizens who want the flag protected -- is to ask all candidates where they stand.  It is to ask them to make their stand on the issue loud and clear.  Then, we can trust the people to decide.

For, like Napoleon, the smug elitists who imagine there is a "right" to trample or defecate on the flag made a basic mistake.  Like him, they defied the deep-seated patriotism of the people.  They, too, will be overcome in the end.

For in the end, under our Constitution, it is "We the People" who make the law.

Editor – The following guest editorial is offered for your publication consideration on or about Flag Day, June 14 (692 Words).

Contact: Marty Justis, CFA at (317) 630-1239, www.cfa-inc.org  

SOURCE Citizens Flag Alliance