State Politics

An ‘outsider’ had things to say about the Mississippi flag. The South didn’t take it well.

Peter Klumpenhower can't believe Mississippi has an image offensive to so much of its population in its state flag.
Peter Klumpenhower can't believe Mississippi has an image offensive to so much of its population in its state flag. YouTube Screenshot

A self-taught video blogger who specializes in flags has some advice for Mississippi, delivered after an epic sigh in his latest installment of “Vexillographer.”

“If 30 percent of your population happens to be black, maybe you shouldn’t have the emblem of Team Slavery in your state flag,” said Peter Klumpenhower, a library clerk at the Grants, New Mexico, Public Library, a town of about 9,000 an hour west of Albuquerque. And that, the flag’s critics say, is the problem: That’s how the flag portrays Mississippi to the rest of the world.

“I’m sort of looking at Mississippi as an outsider,” Klumpenhower said. “It’s up to Mississippi, though, to decide what to do. It’s just my opinion.”

His opinion is Mississippi ought to take a serious look at the Stennis Flag. It’s not an opinion that’s universally shared. There are those who like the state flag just fine.

And it’s the 24-year-old’s second crack at trying to convince Mississippi to change its flag, so he knows a good thicket when he sees one. In 2016, he said, “As we keep an eye on what Mississippi is doing, I want to know what you guys think.”

Normally, he says, the 60 or so fans who comment on his videos are understanding. But the Mississippi story reached a much wider audience and generated 185 comments.

“And they left some not-so-nice comments,” he said.

They told him what they thought of the flag:

▪ “The Confederate flag is a symbol of Southern pride and slavery was not the only issue during the Civil War.”

▪ “Change the flag...show the world even MS can change...for the good! This flag is just too negative and divisive. MS can not afford, in anyway, to offend...they need jobs and tourism...so get rid of this offensive symbol once and for all!”

And what they thought of his “outsider” status:

▪ “Funny how the flag was OK for all these years & only now are people (non Mississippians) calling for it to be replaced.”

▪ “I respect your courage and I am proud to join in the fight with you to get the state of Mississippi to remove the flag from any and all property grounds. Even though I live in Idaho.”

And, because it’s the internet, what they thought of his appearance.

▪ “Lmao this kids haircut I can’t stop laughing.”

▪ “You put your shirt on wrong, the tag was outside :P”

So far, his latest video hasn’t received any comments, not even a nasty one. But there will be plenty of time for that to change. All the flag bills filed in this year’s Legislature have died with the passing of Tuesday’s deadline for general bills to make it out of committee.

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton

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