Georgia and Mississippi crashed and burned. Legislators in Maine and Minnesota have spent decades twiddling their thumbs. Efforts to adopt a new state flag and seal in Massachusetts are slowly fumbling ahead—maybe. Montana is a state where good ideas scare the hell out of right-wingers.
Right now, all eyes are on Utah, which is poised to become the first state cursed with a crappy flag to usher in a new flag since World War II. Suddenly, it was revealed that Illinois legislators are also shopping for a new state flag. Will they follow Utah’s lead and stay the course, or will they fall off the map, like everyone else?
If a campaign to adopt a new state flag gains traction in Illinois, how will the new flag be selected? Will legislators commission a graphic design firm to create a design, or will they announce a flag design contest, similar to Utah?
Apparently, a flag design commission will accept public input. (“Turner pushes plan that could lead to a new state flag,” Sean Crawford, NPR Illinois, March 6, 2023)
So, what should a new Illinois state flag look like?
It will be interesting to see the ideas people come up with. My proposal, pictured above, represents The Prairie State. Corn is an insanely popular symbol in Illinois, serving as the official state grain, vegetable, and snackfood (popcorn). Domesticated by Native Americans, it is also symbolic of the region’s original inhabitants. The stylized lily (fleur de lis) represents European culture and the French origin of the state’s name.
Many people might judge such a design too simple, maybe backwards. However, in this era of mindlessly advancing technology and Facebook memes, along with ever worsening socio-political and environmental problems, I, for one, like calm, peaceful designs that are rooted in our natural heritage. You can’t improve on Nature.
The Lincoln Curse ˆ
One icon I hope flag design buffs will steer clear of is Abraham Lincoln.
Yes, Illinois is famously known as The Land of Lincoln. However, I don’t think it’s wise to depict famous people on flags, for a couple reasons.
First, some people will almost inevitably object to the portrayal of a person representing a particular race and gender. Lincoln, of course, was a white male, like all U.S. pResidents except Obama, who was an Uncle Tom.
Second, no one is perfect, and one never knows what skeletons might lurk in an individual’s closet. There’s no better example than Abe Lincoln.
As everyone knows, Lincoln freed the slaves. Unfortunately, he freed them for the wrong reasons, and he also chose an incredibly bloody strategy.
Are you aware that Abraham Lincoln was a racist? Some of his comments about black people are pretty shocking. After the Civil War, Lincoln presided over the biggest mass execution in American history, of Sioux Indians. In the meantime, he pretty much forgot about the black people he had just freed. Some weren’t much better off than when they were slaves.
Members of the LGBT community might rally behind Lincoln because some historians think he was gay. There’s also tantalizing evidence that Lincoln was Jewish. He’s certainly embraced by the Log Cabin Republicans and the Jewish entertainer Barbra Streisand. A gay Jew might seem the perfect symbol for the “Woke” movement, but Lincoln’s true identity doesn’t change the fact that he was racist. In fact, some people might associate him with Israel, which has replaced South Africa as the Land of Apartheid.
Whether we call him Abraham or Gaybraham, Lincoln was not the great humanitarian he’s portrayed as.
Incidentally, another pResidential icon is depicted on Washington State’s flag. The irony is rich: George Washington was an aristocratic slave owner. He was the second richest pResident after Donald Trump, and his views on African Americans and Native Americans were virtually identical to Lincoln’s.
As you might guess, I’m campaigning to change Washington’s flag, which I think is one of America’s worst. Illinois’ flag isn’t nearly as bad as Washington’s, but there’s still lots of room for improvement. As they say, a great state deserves a great flag.