A screenshot from Newsmax showing a side-by-side comparison of a finalist redesign of the Minnesota state flag with the Jubaland state flag in Somalia

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Right-wing media attack Minnesota's state flag redesign with “great replacement” theory rhetoric

Conservatives claimed that a finalist design looked like the flag from a Somali state and ranted that Minnesota had been “conquered”

After a Minnesota commission unveiled its finalist pick for a new state flag to replace a racially offensive design, right-wing media insisted that the new design resembled one from a state in Somalia. Conservatives used the redesign to promote the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, claiming that Minnesota has been “conquered” by Somali immigrants. Right-wing media claimed the design’s green and white stripes, which a state commission ultimately chose to remove from the final design, resembled Somalia’s flag.

  • Minnesota’s new flag design incorporates the state's shape, motto, and natural resources, replacing an old “genocidal” design

    • The selected flag design incorporates Minnesota’s shape, motto, and natural resources. Minnesota Public Radio reported that the winning entry from a group of finalists includes an eight-point star in the design to reflect the state’s motto “L’etoile du Nord” (“Star of the North”), as well as an “abstract shape of Minnesota at the flag’s left edge.” The Minnesota resident who submitted the winning design also explained to MPR: “Each color was chosen to symbolize a different important aspect of Minnesota and its identity. For the stripes, white represents snow/winter, the green stripe represents our beautiful nature and the importance of agriculture and the light blue stripe represents the several significant meanings of water to our state: as the land of 10,000 lakes, the birth state of the Mississippi River and the origins of our state’s name —which came from the Dakota language— which translates to ‘a place of sky-tinted water.’” A separate report from Axios noted that “various elements, such as colors, the shape of the star and the number of stripes, could still change.” [Minnesota Public Radio, 11/28/23; Axios, 12/15/23]
    • The final flag design eliminated the white and green stripes. MPR published an updated article describing the final design selected by the State Emblems Redesign Commission: “A new flag with a shape that resembles — well, itself — along with an eight-point North Star and a single, light blue block to the other side.” According to the article, “a pair of designers” recommended eliminating the stripes on the right and limiting colors to shades of blue and white, suggestions which the commission accepted. [Minnesota Public Radio, 12/19/23]
    • The old Minnesota state flag has white nationalist overtones. MinnPost described Minnesota’s state seal, which is displayed on the current state flag, as including “many images, but the central theme is of a farmer tilling a field with a Native American on horseback riding in the distance.” The article added, “While the pre-statehood-designed seal and flag might be subject to interpretation, a poem written by the wife of the designer says this about the image: ‘We claim his noble heritage/And Minnesota’s land/Must pass with all its untold wealth/To the white man’s grasping hand.’” [MinnPost, 6/8/23]
    • The state lawmaker who was the prime sponsor of a bill to replace the Minnesota state flag and seal called them “a cluttered genocidal mess.” MinnPost additionally reported that the currently existing Minnesota state flag ranked close to last in a survey of state flags and “falls into the grouping that populates the bottom of most rankings.” [MinnPost, 6/8/23]
  • Right-wing media claimed that the new flag resembles a Somali flag and that Minnesota has been “conquered” by Somali immigrants

    • Conservative radio host Charlie Kirk and guest, former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), ranted that the new Minnesota flag shows that Somali immigrants are “conquering” the state: “It is a great replacement.” Kirk and Bachmann went on a racist rant about Somalis, claiming they have “a fraud culture” and that Muslims are “conquering” Minnesota and want to turn it into ”Minnesota-stan" and an “Islamic state.” Kirk asked, “Why are we allowing ourselves to be replaced by third world Muslim foreigners?” and later said that Democrats will use immigration to “change the body politic. ... It is a great replacement by other means.” [Salem Radio Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 12/18/23]
    • YouTube streamer Tim Pool alleged that the new flag “looks an awful lot like the flag of Jubaland in Somalia.” Pool added: “When … they make it look like a flag of Somalia, and it’s the state with the largest Somali population, a lot of people are going to feel like you are being subverted, that your cultural values are being taken away from you by minority populations and non-American populations.” [TimCast IRL, 12/18/23, via Twitter/X]
    • Pool posted in response to a post about the flag: “Yall are conquered.” [Twitter/X, 12/17/23]
    • Antisemitic streamer Stew Peters wrote on X, “Somalia is raising its flag over Minnesota” adding that the state “has officially been conquered by double digit IQ savages.” [Twitter/X, 12/18/23]
    • Right-wing influencer account End Wokeness wrote on X: “Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the West. Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) is from Puntland. Minnesota just unveiled their new flag. I'm sure this is just a coincidence.” [Twitter/X, 12/17/23]
    • Right-wing social media personality Amuse suggested on X that “an entire US state had been conquered,” citing the new Minnesota flag design. The account posted: “What if we woke up on day and realized an entire US state had been conquered? Take a look at the new flag Minnesota is considering. It looks a lot like the Somali flag (MN has the highest percentage of Somali refugees thanks to Obama).” [Twitter/X, 12/17/23]
    • PJ Media published an article declaring that “the new flag’s adoption of Somali flag colors strongly implies that this community of new Minnesotans … is in the driver’s seat.” The article lamented that “instead of expecting the new Somali arrivals in Minnesota to become American … the new flag appears to be signaling that Minnesota has become Somalia,” and “the North Star state is likely to get more and more Somali as the days and years inexorably pass.” [PJ Media, 12/18/23]
    • Newsmax’s Rob Finnerty said on Wake Up America: “So the new flag, it is very similar to the flag of Somalia. And just so you know, 43,000 Somalians live in Minnesota.” Finnerty continued, “This flag is directly to appeal to the Somalian population in the state of Minnesota. And by the way, something like 60,000 Somalians across the southern border under Joe Biden's time in office.” [Newsmax, Wake Up America, 12/19/23]
    • Newsmax host Rob Schmitt stated that the flag redesigning commission “was a big conglomerate of who can be the wokest. And they said, ‘You know what? Let's get really, really woke and turn Minnesota's flag into the Somalian flag.’” He also used the story to call Somali American Rep. Ilhan Omar an “America-hating refugee.” [Newsmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 12/18/23]
    • One America News host Kara McKinney claimed on her show that Minnesota — “the conquered state” — had spent thousands of dollars to “spit on their cultural heritage and to instead seemingly raise a foreign flag above American soil.” McKinney cited a racist X post that suggested that Somali immigrants had “conquered” Minnesota, which the post described as “a state with historic Scandinavian ties … and generous welfare on offer.” McKinney also said the new design reminded her of an incident in which “a gang of migrant youth” reportedly attacked a man dressed as Santa Claus in Germany, before claiming that “large, roving migrant rape gangs preying on young women and girls, no-go zones, and rampant terror attacks” had turned “historically safe parts of Europe into dangerous hellholes.” She added, “Can’t wait to see what Middle East or African-inspired flags their historical flags get morphed into.” [One America News, Tipping Point with Kara McKinney, 12/18/23]
    • Far-right X account Right Angle News Network on the flag design: “We are being replaced and they aren’t even trying to hide it anymore.” The account added: “We must resist guys. It’s not racist to want to exist.” [Twitter/X, 12/17/23]
    • Conspiracy theory website World Net Daily suggested that “Somalis living in Minnesota … have brought their flag with them.” The article was titled “American state's new official flag looks like one from terror hotbed.” [World Net Daily, 12/18/23]
    • The Western Journal wrote: “The similarities between it [the proposed flag design] and the state flag for the Somalian state of Puntland are certainly undeniable.” [Western Journal, 12/17/23
    • The Gateway Pundit published a story headlined “Revamped Minnesota State Flag Looks a Lot Like the Jubaland Somalian Flag for Some Strange Reason.” [The Gateway Pundit, 12/18/23]
    • Headline from TheBlaze: “Redesign of Minnesota state flag draws controversy as some say it resembles Somalian state flag: 'Yall are conquered.'” [TheBlaze, 12/18/23]
  • Right-wing media have long record of pushing racist “great replacement” rhetoric

    • Right-wing media figures have spent years pushing the “great replacement” theory, which warns of a nefarious plot to erode the political power of white people by replacing them with nonwhite immigrants. The blood-soaked conspiracy theory has inspired a number of horrific events, including: the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017; the 2019 El Paso, Texas, shooting; the 2022 shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and others. [Media Matters, 6/30/22]
    • Some right-wing figures have echoed the “great replacement” theory in their rhetoric attacking the Somali community in Minnesota. In 2020, the now-defunct right-wing group Project Veritas falsely accused Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and the Somali community in Minnesota of engaging in a “pay-for-votes” scheme. In 2021, former Trump official Ken Cuccinelli said “the Somali experience in Minnesota is not a good one for America.” [Media Matters, 10/7/20, 9/16/23]