Michigan became an official member of the United States on January 26, 1837.
As such, it was a part of the Union when the Civil War broke out in 1861 and volunteers from Michigan fought and died to preserve the United States against rebellion by slave owning states of the south.
The Confederate battle flag of Virginia is a symbol of that southern rebellion Michigan fought against, which made its appearance in the Michigan Senate puzzling for many. Since the flag does not hold a favorable historical connection to the state, many speculated it was the flag's modern affiliations that led to its appearance in the Michigan legislature.
Many White supremacist and White nationalist organizations adopted the flag as their symbol.
So people were shocked that Michigan state Republican Senator Dale Zorn wore it as a face mask on the Senate floor. Recently the flag has been showing up during heavily armed anti-lockdown protests.
The organizers of these events also have White nationalist and White supremacist ties. But Zorn originally told the press the mask was not a Confederate flag.
You can see the Michigan GOP senator's remarks here.
"I told my wife it probably will raise some eyebrows, but it was not a Confederate flag."
The Republican state legislator added:
"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."
But it seemed Zorn was the one needing some history lessons. In 1861, Republicans were strongly in favor of the war as President Abraham Lincoln was a member of the GOP.
While the political stances of the two parties have reversed since then, it doesn't change the history of Michigan or the GOP. If exposing the state's youth to their Civil War history was the goal, the battle flag of one of the Michigan volunteer regiments would have worked.
This is Dale Zorn. He is an elected member of the Michigan Senate. He wore a Confederate Flag mask on the floor of… https://t.co/ZJdmQ3WYxd— Bryan Newland (@Bryan Newland) 1587824279.0
"I knew it would raise eyebrows." "But, it wasn't a Confederate Flag." "But people should learn about the Confede… https://t.co/a38zphOQt6— Bryan Newland (@Bryan Newland) 1587825616.0
Bonus fact: Sen. Zorn represents Monroe, Michigan - the home of Custer. Even in 2020, they continue to honor Custer… https://t.co/SNhn1RcwZY— Bryan Newland (@Bryan Newland) 1587826196.0
P.S. I know that racism doesn't have a zip code, and we are as likely to find it in Michigan as anywhere else. My… https://t.co/Oe11FSjHNT— Bryan Newland (@Bryan Newland) 1587920015.0
PPS: Also, I know that flag means now. It's a display of hate and white supremacy. It will never be anything but th… https://t.co/Ryu7OUL2ID— Bryan Newland (@Bryan Newland) 1587920162.0
@Rgerman49 @RealBNewland Wherever flags of surrender are sold.— Von Platz (@Von Platz) 1587849589.0
It wasn't long before Zorn was singing a different tune, however.
In a statement to the press, the state senate Republican issued an apology, saying:
"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. My actions were an error in judgment for which there are no excuses and I will learn from this episode."
1/2: I’m sorry for my choice of pattern on the face mask I wore yesterday on the Senate floor. I did not intend to… https://t.co/kmw0wVWElN— Dale W. Zorn (@Dale W. Zorn) 1587825959.0
2/2: My actions were an error in judgment for which there are no excuses and I will learn from this episode.— Dale W. Zorn (@Dale W. Zorn) 1587825959.0
Zorn's constituents had some less than positive feedback for their state senator.
@DaleZornSenate Senator, I just asked my 11-year-old son, “what’s wrong with this picture?” Well, first he said tha… https://t.co/PsbbJdHKD2— Livia (@Livia) 1587831758.0
@DaleZornSenate Why do you think that’s a bad idea to wear on the floor of the state Senate? “Because they fought f… https://t.co/CrrqZHOHc2— Livia (@Livia) 1587831897.0
@DaleZornSenate Why did Zorn tell the TV reporter yesterday that he knew that the mask would "raise eyebrows", but… https://t.co/3X83OSUZn0— Take Care, Tim (@Take Care, Tim) 1587827234.0
@TakeCareTim @DaleZornSenate Because he's a liar— Regan McBurney (@Regan McBurney) 1587836157.0
@DaleZornSenate Then explain why you wore it. Own it! I’m sad for your constituents.— Jonathan Swegles (@Jonathan Swegles) 1587829525.0
@DaleZornSenate Dale here is that pic you didn't want everyone to see. And your wife sewed it for you. Isn't that s… https://t.co/yzMVauPvQi— jmartin (@jmartin) 1587837227.0
@DaleZornSenate 14,753. 14,753 men from Michigan died during the Civil War.— Jay Thurston (@Jay Thurston) 1587837488.0
@thurstonjc @DaleZornSenate Dale says kids need to learn our history. Our history is Union! Resign Dale Zorn and stop embarrassing us.— Emmy5 (@Emmy5) 1587854309.0
@emmy5s @thurstonjc @DaleZornSenate They do need to learn our history but displaying the flag today is not recogniz… https://t.co/O91XRlheST— Sandra Hurd (@Sandra Hurd) 1587859710.0
@DaleZornSenate How did you end up with that flag in your possession? It was so important to you that you wrapped i… https://t.co/YenBXzhks1— Trinity (@Trinity) 1587864180.0
@TrinityResists @DaleZornSenate You would get even more protection from a Klan hood and signal your message to your target audience.— Dan Harn (@Dan Harn) 1587896006.0
@DaleZornSenate https://t.co/hOtbHeRaVb— Sara (@Sara) 1587830247.0
@saralynne65 @DaleZornSenate He should read that sign before Zorn decides a Nazi flag mask is his next great idea t… https://t.co/9twd2pDFDL— Wise Old Dog (@Wise Old Dog) 1587841138.0
Zorn's Twitter bio describes him as a small business owner with 30 years of public service. Prior to be in the Senate, Zorn served in the Michigan House of Representatives.
Zorn represents the 17th state district, located in the southeastern part of the state.
The documentary Aftershock: Beyond The Civil War is available here.