Mississippi blinking at the light
June 28, 2020 9:24 AM   Subscribe

The Mississippi state legislature has cleared the hurdles towards removing and replacing the official state flag, which has contained the Confederate battle emblem since 1894. This follows a recent cascade of institutions, businesses, and towns refusing to display the current flag. Perhaps most cuttingly, the SEC football conference no longer wants to hold championship events in the state. A vote is expected today; the governor has grudgingly indicated that he will sign the bill if it is passed.

Mississippi-born actress Aunjanue Ellis, who has been a longtime advocate for replacing the flag, addressed herself directly to the First Lady of Mississippi: "They say that Southern women are husband whisperers. Whisper to your husband and say that he could be the first governor of courage for the state of Mississippi."

For years, there have been advocates for an alternate flag called the "hospitality flag" or the "Stennis flag," as it was designed by Laurin Stennis (granddaughter of segregationist politician John Stennis, improving on her family legacy). However, the legislature has created a commission to create an alternate flag design which, by its terms, must contain the words "In God We Trust," which the hospitality flag does not. The design would then be subject to a popular vote.

Previously: Kiese Laymon on the flag, among other things; Ole Miss trying to clean up its act; an unsuccessful 2001 referendum on changing the flag.
posted by Countess Elena (52 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm good with this, but the whole replacement process seems (commission with rules, public vote) to be a way to make the whole process fail so the legislature can wash their hands of it.
posted by jmauro at 9:29 AM on June 28 [17 favorites]


That's a good point. I didn't think of that, but I did feel as if the "In God We Trust" was a sop to the right wing, specifically to irritate liberals on the way out
posted by Countess Elena at 9:31 AM on June 28 [11 favorites]


Probably hoping a first amendment challenge will stall the thing in court or split off votes in the referendum.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:38 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


In God We Trust is also from the civil war era, but it seems to be pro-union in that era.
posted by aniola at 9:46 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


In God Some Trust
posted by aniola at 9:47 AM on June 28


In Mississippi Goddam We Trust.
posted by Catblack at 9:57 AM on June 28 [35 favorites]


It looks like a lock for the House, but the Mississippi Senate seems less inclined to facilitate the quick passage of the bill.

But I also don't have a lot of confidence that by the time a proposed new flag comes up to the referendum that it'll pass.
posted by tclark at 9:57 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Flying Spaghetti Monster is probably going to lose this one. Note that Georgia has a little "in god we trust" motto on their flag.

I never expected to see this flag change in my lifetime. But should this pass, I do expect to see a lot of "Calvin pissing on new flag design" decals on pickup trucks.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:00 AM on June 28 [12 favorites]


It looks like if the voters don't approve the committee's proposed new design in November, then they just go back and design another new one. They will vote today to remove the existing state flag, so if that passes, either way they won't use this one anymore.

They had to have 2/3 in each house to get to this point; I think they only need a majority and the Governor's signature from here (and he says he'll sign it).
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:11 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


In God We Trust has been the official motto of the US since Eisenhower. And it's been on the Mississippi state seal since 2014.
posted by giltay at 10:14 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure it's a widespread vexillological standard that flags are almost never enhanced by having text on them. Even when that text is noncontroversial, it's still usually regarded as marring the design and making the reverse of a fabric flag look stupid.
posted by jackbishop at 10:15 AM on June 28 [37 favorites]


> Note that Georgia has a little "in god we trust" motto on their flag.

Also note that Georgia's current flag flag basically is the first flag of the confederacy. And this isn't a historical artifact, it was changed to that in 2003
posted by pwnguin at 10:15 AM on June 28 [32 favorites]


it’s good that they’re finally removing the confederate revivalist emblem from their state flags, but really i think that since a bunch of states have included a hard-right hate symbol on their flags for like 130 years, it’d only be fair if other political points of view got a century or so of time on state flags. that’s why i’m lobbying the legislature of my undisclosed state to include a hammer and sickle under a red star and over a pair of crossed kalashnikovs.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10:37 AM on June 28 [17 favorites]


The replacement process is almost designed to generate a really bad flag. They should just go with the hospitality flag. But that would be too easy, and, well, God and all....
posted by cccorlew at 10:57 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


"In God We Trust" more or less translates to "Deo Vindice," official motto of the Confederacy. So back to zero in some senses.
posted by homerica at 11:01 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]


They will vote today to remove the existing state flag, so if that passes, either way they won't use this one anymore.

That's when I will believe something's happening. I saw a lot of breathless "they voted to change the flag!" yesterday on social media. No, they didn't. They voted that it might be ok to talk about talking about maybe making a plan to...

By which I mean good, but I'm with jmauro in the first comment. Stall until everyone forgets or finds a detail to argue about that sabotages the whole thing. I'd like to be proved wrong.
posted by ctmf at 11:09 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]




I'm pretty sure it's a widespread vexillological standard that flags are almost never enhanced by having text on them. Even when that text is noncontroversial, it's still usually regarded as marring the design and making the reverse of a fabric flag look stupid.

Like all their rules there are some exceptions, they point out Colorado's "C" as one where text works, so it's not a hard and fast rule. I don't know of any exceptions with entire phrases though.
posted by jmauro at 11:38 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


There’s also the two-sided flag solution to dealing with text, a la Oregon. Flag design problems usually just boil down to lack of imagination.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:40 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


"In God We Trust" more or less translates to "Deo Vindice," official motto of the Confederacy. So back to zero in some senses.

"Deo Vindice" is "With God as our Defender". "In God We Trust" translates to "In Deo Fidemus" and is the official motto of the USA. We should definitely change it back to "E Pluribus Unum", but I don't think those two mottos are the same just because they have the "God [does something]" form.
posted by demiurge at 11:50 AM on June 28 [20 favorites]


i guess “e pluribus unum” is fine but really we should change it to the leftist version of “don’t tread on me”1

1: “fuck around and find out”
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:56 AM on June 28 [14 favorites]


Mississippi Today, 24 June 2020:
The state’s chamber of commerce has released a new poll that shows a seismic shift among Mississippi voters in favor of changing the state flag to remove its Confederate battle emblem.

The poll released by the Mississippi Economic Council shows voters favorable to changing the flag 55% to 41%, a flip from a 2019 poll that showed 54% of voters favored keeping the current flag. MEC says polling data supports its call for the Legislature to act this week to “change the flag now.”

The poll was conducted last week by the Tarrance Group, a company with extensive political polling experience in Mississippi that has polled voters on the flag issue for years. It also showed that support for changing the flag jumped to 72% when people were asked about changing to a “state seal flag” that includes the motto “In God We Trust.” The survey showed the state seal version has support from a majority of Black and white Mississippians.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 12:12 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


flag basically is the first flag of the confederacy. And this isn't a historical artifact, it was changed to that in 2003
posted by pwnguin


Sonny Purdue ran for governor of Georgia in opposition to this flag, and won. Now he s the Trumpist head of USDA. And that s in 2020.

The flags are literally designed by a committee of the elected. These are the people in power now. Are we surprised when, instead of just passing the KKK based, cruel, austerity policies, they put it on a flag?
posted by eustatic at 12:23 PM on June 28 [6 favorites]


Thank you for that link to the metafiler thread on the 2001 referendum. I was a bit annoyed / saddened that almost every link in that thread is dead, but as I read it, I was struck by how many of the posts ("The elitism that is perceived is the "out of town New York-style Yankees" coming down to tell the "corn pone hicks" what is "right".", "I think it's really interesting the way the state governments can keep their black population so distracted and focused on a strictly symbolic "problem" such as flag patterns instead of economic disparities or poor education standards.") would not be out of place today. The score may be different, but it's still the same game.

At least the thread consensus (and I hope the consensus in Mississippi) has shifted toward positive change.
posted by getao at 12:45 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


I'd like to see peace loving Bigfoot with a long rifle removed from Michigan's flag. yeah it is supposed to be a man but.

elk and moose from the Hudson's Bay CO.
gotta go.

the flags friendly pledge:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of Michigan, and to the state for which it stands, two beautiful peninsulas united by a bridge of steel, where equal opportunity and justice to all is our ideal.

as to the Confederate emblem, glad I don't have to listen to another excuse why THAT flag has to fly.
posted by clavdivs at 2:19 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


Text on flags is just tacky. Try a little harder.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:45 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]


Holy. Shit.

Holy fucking shit.
posted by egypturnash at 4:01 PM on June 28 [4 favorites]


And the first flag comes down! 🎉

There are ambient threats of violence over it, and no doubt private property owners will fly it for a generation at least, but this is a banner day. As it were.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:35 PM on June 28 [12 favorites]


(incidentally I have no idea what the dude is yelling, I honestly can't make him out, but FYI there is a protestor shouting over that clip and maybe you don't want to hear it)
posted by Countess Elena at 4:41 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I extend to you, provisionally and revocably, my good faith, as long that belief passes peer review.
posted by bonehead at 7:32 PM on June 28


support for changing the flag jumped to 72% when people were asked about changing to a “state seal flag” that includes the motto “In God We Trust.” The survey showed the state seal version has support from a majority of Black and white Mississippians.

It's probably worth mentioning that, despite the complaints in this thread, religion is an important part of black communities. A Pew study from 2009 shows that African-Americans are far more likely to practice religion than the average American
Nearly eight-in-ten African-Americans (79%) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56% among the U.S. adult population overall.
These groups have a long tradition of anti-racial activism; Moral Mondays didn't come out of nowhere, and the complaint here in the Blue seem to be a bit deaf to the values of the people ostensibly now being less marginalized.
posted by pwnguin at 10:56 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]




I’m from there. My sister still lives there, in Jackson.

There is a lot of support for the Stennis Flag.

I see now that she has officially distanced herself from the flag itself, fearing her surname on the flag would harm its chances of adoption, which is fair. It’s still a good flag, and in progressive areas of the state you see them flying from people’s porches. (There are lots in my sister’s neighborhood in Jackson, for example.)
posted by uberchet at 9:08 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Not that the Stennis flag is bad, but I think we've got too many stars on flags. Maybe try something else Mississippi?

And I could totally get behind a regular flag changing. I'd advocate for a 25 year cycle rather than a 10 year cycle, but that's just nit picking.
posted by sotonohito at 10:39 AM on June 29


I've always hoped for a magnolia flag, myself. It's amazing to see it finally happening now, after I cast my hopeful vote for a new flag almost twenty years ago.

(Seriously, a magnolia's got a chance at being genuinely appealing and marketable. Having something that works as well on every imaginable item of clothing or beer coozie as the Colorado state flag does would be a big marketing win for Mississippi. Who wants to buy a coffee mug with "in God we trust" on it?)
posted by asperity at 11:04 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


Who wants to buy a coffee mug with "in God we trust" on it?

I agree with the magnolia, but judging by how many of them are on the market, apparently a shitload of people want to buy such mugs. Seriously, google "in god we trust mug."
posted by aspersioncast at 12:04 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Good point! Still, it's definitely not what most people would choose as something representative of Mississippi specifically. That's surely what we should be aiming for here. Why are they making it so hard?

(No, I probably don't need an answer to that question.)
posted by asperity at 12:51 PM on June 29


Still, it's definitely not what most people would choose as something representative of Mississippi specifically.

Honestly, it kind of is. Mississippi is a state, after all, that has repeatedly tried to make the Bible the state book.

And pwnguin had a good point that I did not consider when I made my snarky comment -- churchgoers are strongly represented among black Mississippians, and their representatives may favor "In God We Trust." I automatically interpreted the use of the motto as an attempt by white conservatives to demonstrate to their voters that Mississippi was not being told what to do by The Left. That's cynical and white-centered, and that's on me.

In any case, I believe the important thing is getting a flag that is not actively threatening anybody. (As an atheist, I am thoroughly unthreatened by the motto on my quarters, and I don't expect it to threaten me on a flag.)
posted by Countess Elena at 1:12 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm absolutely happy to see the old flag gone, regardless. I'd just, entirely selfishly, like something that's identifiably, officially Mississippi-in-a-good-way that I could wear on a hat or t-shirt or maybe some cute earbobs. And that doesn't look like yet another indistinguishable seal on a sheet.

I mean, Mississippi's seal doesn't even have a detached horse head like New Jersey, or a pelican like Louisiana. The eagle isn't even the state bird! Hmm. I could get behind a mockingbird flag, but that might be a little too Hunger Games-adjacent.

Seriously do y'all even know what it's like in states that have usable state icons? You can adapt them for every purpose imaginable, kids can draw them, they're easy to turn into craft items. Mississippi deserves a state flag it's possible to crochet as a cute headband or to display as a flower arrangement. Not as much as it deserves a state flag that isn't obviously offensive, but settling for the barely acceptable minimum is... oh, right. Never mind, this is going to represent the state properly.
posted by asperity at 1:27 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


I'm just, so, so ready to be able to get in the ring and cheerfully bicker with everyone about who has the best flag design. It's going to be such a delightful change from having the acknowledged absolute worst.

Also, it's possible that if we'd flooded Mississippi with articles featuring other states' terrible designs we might have been able to get this done in 2001. But 2001 was before the era of the listicle-for-the-sake-of-internet-argument, and so that would have required more than one kind of futuristic thinking.
posted by asperity at 2:04 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I'd just, entirely selfishly, like something that's identifiably, officially Mississippi-in-a-good-way that I could wear on a hat or t-shirt
I guess I'm just allergic to state nativism. It's probably an outgrowth of (a) having grown up in Mississippi and (b) having lived in Texas for 25 years, but I mostly just see LOOK AT MY STATE ICONOGRAPHY as weird and offputting.

I mean, you were born on a particular patch of dirt! Yay?
Mississippi deserves...
What Mississippi deserves is an intense period of reconstruction. But that's not today's topic.
posted by uberchet at 3:08 PM on June 29 [4 favorites]


two words, asperity: Land. Shark.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:09 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I've always been partial to Maryland's flag, which for me always evokes the Mr. Show sketch about a flag designed to cause constipation.

(go Terps)
posted by aspersioncast at 3:12 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


I mean, you were born on a particular patch of dirt! Yay?

Nationalism in a nutshell.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:13 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Countess Elena: "However, the legislature has created a commission to create an alternate flag design which, by its terms, must contain the words "In God We Trust,""

Why go with such a hackneyed phrase that's all over our filthy (federal!!) lucre? If they're going to invoke the Almighty, they should put a little more heart into it -- something that expresses gratitude while also reminding everyone about the important service provided by the Magnolia State's leaders.

As an Alabamian, I propose "Thank God for Mississippi."
posted by Rhaomi at 4:13 PM on June 29 [4 favorites]


Just don't make the mistake California did.
posted by ctmf at 4:33 PM on June 29 [3 favorites]




I love it. Not only does my family personally have a possum problem (or actually just a "dog furious that possums exist" problem), there is one thing you can certainly say about Mississippians, now and throughout history: we screm at own ass.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:57 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


>I mean, you were born on a particular patch of dirt! Yay?

Nationalism in a nutshell.


Also, vampirism (although that's sometimes about where you're buried)....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:51 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


I'd move back to Mississippi in time to register to vote in November if I could vote for the possum flag.
posted by asperity at 1:23 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


I've always been partial to Maryland's flag

As far as I can tell, Maryland has the most divisive state flag. Whenever there's a ranking, it's either in the top 5 for its delightful chaos or in the bottom 5 for its horrifying chaos.

I like it, but I fly a simple Calvert flag (without the Union Jack) myself, which (a) definitely reduces the riot-of-color-and-symbols factor, and (b) avoids the potentially crypto-Confederate symbolism of including the Crossland arms.
posted by jackbishop at 5:41 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


I've always been partial to Maryland's flag

As a former long-time Maryland resident (PG County!) with a fashion sense that walks the fine line between "well, that's a choice" and "garish", I really enjoy the look of the state flag.


potentially crypto-Confederate symbolism of including the Crossland arms

Here's a 2018 article that gives the context behind the ties between the Maryland flag, slavery, and the confederacy that jackbishop mentioned. I'm personally on board with scrapping the "delightful chaos" (I love that phrasing!) especially if it becomes used more noticeably by white supremacists. As I've learned in this thread, there's no shortage of great flag design ideas!
posted by el gran combo at 9:55 AM on July 1


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