What Is With This Michigan Republican's Confederate Coronavirus Mask Apology?

Post-Racial America

Sen. Dale Zorn casually looks at his phone while donning a Confederate flag face mask.

On Friday, Michigan State Senator Dale Zorn showed up to a Senate vote in the Capitol wearing what was very obviously a Confederate flag face mask and could easily be recognized as such by anyone who had ever seen one. And people noticed.

At first, when confronted about the obvious Confederate flag mask he was wearing on his face, Sen. Zorn explained that his wife made the mask for him and that she told him it was more like the Kentucky state flag or the Tennessee state flag, despite bearing no resemblance to either of those things.

The Kentucky state flag is blue and features two guys shaking hands, and thus looks nothing at all like the Confederate flag, which has no guys shaking hands on it at all.

The Tennessee state flag at least has some stars on it, and no guys shaking hands, but is also very obviously not the Confederate flag.

As you can plainly see, the Tennessee flag bears no resemblance to the Confederate that flag Sen. Zorn was clearly wearing on his face in the above picture.

Even if it were one of these other state flags, why would a State Senator from Michigan be wearing that on his face? Why not wear the Michigan flag, which features a jaunty elk and moose duo and the phrase "Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice," which is Latin for "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."

While Sen. Zorn insisted for about a half a day that he did not wear a Confederate flag on his face, he also explained that it wouldn't have been bad if he had done that, because history.


"I told my wife it probably will raise some eyebrows, but it was not a Confederate flag," Zorn said.

He continued by saying, "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. 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."

Slavery? Treason? Literally going out and killing people to fight for the right to own people? Hoop skirts?

This may come as a surprise to Sen. Zorn, but children are taught this history in schools. Everyone learns all about the Civil War in elementary school, which is why pretty much anyone over the age of 10 would be able to look at him and say "Hey, that guy is wearing a Confederate flag on his face!"

Lots and lots of things happened in our history. Many terrible things. Terrible things which are best taught to children by way of history books and Ken Burns documentaries rather than through face masks — which is why you don't see people going around wearing face masks or any other accoutrement depicting the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, Japanese internment camps, or the Kennedy assassination.

If Sen. Zorn knew the mask would "raise some eyebrows" he knew that it, at the very least, looked exactly like a Confederate flag. As a 66-year-old man whom we can assume grew up in America (and took the standard American history courses in public school) and at least occasionally reads or watches the news, it is hard for him to claim that he thought that was a move that was going to go over well. He would have had to have been living in in an underground bunker in the Deep South for at least half his life in order to have no idea how "State Senator wears a Confederate flag on his face" was gonna play out.

And it's played out exactly as one would expect it to, with Sen. Zorn issuing the traditional "sorry if you were offended" apology yesterday, on Twitter.

Michigan, for the record, was a Union state.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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