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This Fourth of July, millions of Americans will proudly display the flag. But some will remember with justifiable bitterness the Congress that permitted desecration of the flag.

While only an ugly fringe is likely to desecrate the flag, Congress has desecrated what the flag stands for - government of the people, by the people and for the people.Even though the Constitution itself provides a procedure for amending the Constitution, Congress refused to allow that procedure to go forward. It refused to allow the people themselves to decide whether they wanted flag burning and other desecration outlawed.

All sorts of terribly sophisticated and self-congratulatory people have said that flag burning doesn't really matter. They have every right to say that - and they would have every opportunity to say it again and again during the long time that it takes to pass a constitutional amendment.

But influencing the public's decision is not what the anointed are all about. They want to take the decision out of the hands of the public and impose their own decision. That is what is even more fundamentally anti-American than the flag burning itself.

On many other issues as well, the views and values of the small, self-congratulatory elite have become the law of the land.

The sickos have desecrated the flag, but the politicians and judges have desecrated the idea behind America.

Media elites are showering all sorts of praise on members of Congress who voted against letting the amendment process begin. They are credited with "courage" and "principle" in resisting "pressure" to have a national vote on the flag amendment.

What they should be credited with is fraud. The same applies to the courts.

The fraud began years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court began calling all sorts of anti-social public behavior "symbolic speech" and saying that it was therefore protected by the "free speech" provision of the First Amendment. Once they took that fork in the road, it led almost inevitably to saying that laws against burning the flag were unconstitutional.

It so happens that the men who wrote the Constitution wrote in a very plain and straightforward way. When they said "free speech" they did not say free actions. Even John Stuart Mill's celebrated essay "On Liberty" declared: "No one pretends that actions should be as free as opinions."

The most ridiculous argument in the flag-burning controversy is that a constitutional amendment would be "an attack on the Bill of Rights."

Are we to believe that this "right" was always there in the First Amendment? And that it was suddenly discovered last year by the likes of William Brennan and Harry Blackmun?

Give me a break!