Republican congressman Michael Zorn has been forced to apologise after appearing on the Senate floor wearing a face mask made out of a fabric that resembled the Confederate flag.
The Michigan senator wore the item during a Senate vote on Friday, and was immediately called out for what many considered to be a "deeply hurtful" choice.
Fellow senator for Michigan, Democrat Jim Ananich, tweeted that he was "lost for words" at Zorn's behaviour.
He has since apologised, tweeting that:
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.
Zorn said his wife made the face covering to (inexplicably) resemble the state flags of Kentucky or Tennessee, but admitted that he thought it might "raise some eyebrows" and wore it anyway.
He also claimed It was not a Confederate flag, but added:
I think 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 people are sceptical at his response.
The Confederate flag is widely considered to be a symbol of white supremacy, although some people argue it should be allowed to represent the Southern states without the racial tensions of the Civil War attached to the imagery.
It's worth noting that Michigan is not part of the South by any stretch of the imagination, but in the north-east of the country.