A Michigan state senator wore a Confederate flag during a state senate vote on Friday, then denied the obvious by stating that the flag was not what it clearly was. Then, he ultimately halfheartedly apologized after also throwing his wife under the bus for the incident.
On Friday, State Sen. Dale Zorn was confronted by WLNS-TV about wearing the Confederate flag mask and excused his behavior away with a litany of lies and half-baked excuses.
“It wasn’t a Confederate flag, it was a mask that my wife made for me, and she wanted me to wear it today. So I did, and I told my wife it probably will raise some eyebrows, but it was not a Confederate flag,” Zorn said.
So, a flag that, according to Zorn, “wasn’t a Confederate flag” would “raise some eyebrows.” Got it.
The senator continued by saying the Confederate flag is relevant for teaching children history, saying, “Our kids should know what that flag stands for.” But when asked what the flag stands for, Zorn ran into a little trouble.
“And I think even if it was a Confederate flag, 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 astrosities [sic] that happened during that time doesn’t happen again, we should be teaching it, our kids should know what that flag stands for,” Zorn said.
Reporter Kiyerra Lake, then asked, “What does that flag stand for?”
“The Confederacy,” Zorn replied.
The senator went on to insist that the mask was not the Confederate flag, again blaming his wife, saying, “My wife said it’s more similar to the, I think she said Kentucky or Tennessee flag.” But WLNS-TV showed that comparison to be nothing close to the truth when it graphically overlaid those state flags during the airing of the interview.
Michigan’s Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist commented on the matter on Saturday, telling MSNBC, “As someone who has fought for civil rights his entire life … as the first black lieutenant governor in the history of Michigan, as the first black person to preside over the Michigan state senate, it was appalling and disgusting to see a Confederate flag chosen as the face mask by a sitting state senator.”
Gilchrist also took issue with signage and Confederate flags that littered the anti-stay-at-home protests at the capitol last week.
“To see those Confederate flags and swastikas in the capitol last week shows you what this was really all about,” Gilchrist said. “This was not about protesting orders to stay home and stay safe. This was about politics and partisanship. That was a Trump rally.”
Zorn released a statement on Saturday in which he gave a lukewarm apology, tweeting, “I’m sorry for my choice of pattern on the face mask I wore yesterday on the Senate floor. 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.” Zorn continued, “My actions were an error in judgment for which there are no excuses and I will learn from this episode.”
Zorn made it clear during the interview that he knew what his “choice of pattern” symbolized when he spoke about how the Confederate flag should not be publicly shelved. The senator’s behavior seems even more damning when he chose not to define what the flag stood for.
Therefore, the senator’s choice of an “I did not intend to offend anyone” apology is simply not good enough.