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Michigan state senator Dale Zorn apologizes for wearing Confederate flag face mask to Senate coronavirus session

After denying the mask was a Confederate flag pattern, and facing criticism that the symbol tied to slavery was inappropriate for a coronavirus discussion, Zorn apologized.

“I’m sorry for my choice of pattern on the face mask I wore yesterday on the Senate floor,” Zorn tweeted Saturday. “I did not intend to offend anyone; however, I realize that I did, and for that I am sorry. Those who know me best know that I do not support the things this pattern represents.”

“My actions were an error in judgment for which there are no excuses and I will learn from this episode,” he added.

Saturday’s apology didn’t mention why Zorn initially denied wearing a mask with the Confederate flag pattern.

After the session Friday, Zorn, then wearing a blue mask, rebutted a WLNS reporter who asked whether the mask he had been wearing earlier was a Confederate flag. He said the mask, sewn by his wife, “probably will raise some eyebrows,” but looked similar to Tennessee’s and Kentucky’s flags.

Tennessee’s flag is red, white and blue like the Confederate flag, but its pattern is different. Kentucky’s flag is blue, has a seal and says “united we stand, divided we fall.”

Zorn continued to say that if it was a Confederate flag pattern, it was because the Confederacy is a part of American history.

“Even if it was a Confederate flag, you know, we should be talking about teaching our national history in schools, and that’s part of our national history, and it’s something we can’t just throw away because it is part of our history,” he told WLNS. “And if we want to make sure that the atrocities that happened during that time doesn’t happen again, we should be teaching it. Our kids should know what that flag stands for.”

A reporter asked Zorn what the flag stands for, and Zorn said it stood for the Confederacy.

When reached by The Washington Post on Saturday for comment, Zorn’s office referred to his tweet.

Some Michiganders took to Twitter to criticize the mask, including state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, a Democrat, who said Zorn’s mask wasn’t representative of the northern state’s history.

“Even if it’s questionable … if people have to ask … don’t. Don’t wear anything resembling a Confederate flag,” she tweeted. “As an elected official. In the state Capitol. On the Senate floor. During session.”

This isn’t the first time the Confederate flag symbol has played into discussions about the coronavirus. Protesters organizing against their states’ quarantine restrictions have flown Confederate flags at rallies.

Brian Westrate, the treasurer of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, told attendees of a Madison rally not to bring the flag in a post in a private Facebook group, the New York Times reported.

“Ok folks, I implore you, please leave Confederate flags and/or AR15s, AK47s, or any other long guns at home,” Westrate wrote. “I well understand that the Confederacy was more about states rights than slavery. But that does not change the truth of how we should try to control the optics during the event.”

During Michigan’s Operation Gridlock, at least one protester was pictured holding a sign with a swastika.

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