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Thad Cochran Defended Mississippi Flag’s Confederate Emblem To Neo-Confederate Magazine In 1995

"I think it is unfortunate that some have used it in a way that it raised questions about their views. But our state, I think, has demonstrated that it is not a racist state."

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Republican Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran expressed support for the Mississippi state flag, which features the Confederate battle flag, in a 1995 interview with the neo-Confederate Southern Partisan magazine.

"I don't think Congress ought to decide," Cochran said when asked about Mississippi's state flag. "I think it is strictly up to the state legislature of Mississippi, and if I were a member of the legislature I would vote to keep the flag as it is."

"I think it is unfortunate that some have used it in a way that it raised questions about their views," said Cochran, cutting off the questioner when pressed about "separating heritage" from the flag. "But our state, I think, has demonstrated by our actions that it is not a racist state. We have full rights and participation in all the political processes. It's a decision the Mississippi state legislature has made, and I respect their decision."

On Monday night, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn called for the Confederate emblem on state's official flag to be removed. In the aftermath of the Charleston shooting, there has been a surge in public demands to remove Confederate flag symbols.

Cochran also decried the Voting Rights Act in the magazine, saying aspects of it "ought to be discontinued."

"No, I think that it is regrettable, and it ought to discontinued," said Cochran to the magazine. "When we last had the Voting Rights act before the Senate, I offered an amendment to apply the law to all states not just to those of the old Confederacy."

Cochran explained that his amendment was intended "to show everybody what a great deal of trouble" the law's 'preclearance' requirements were.

At the time, the law required "every political subdivision, local community, township, county and state government, to go to Washington and get the federal government's permission before any change in a boundary could be made, or any election law could be changed to be certified in effect, that it did not unfairly or improperly disadvantage anyone in their efforts for full political participation."

"That's not necessary any longer," said Cochran.

"There are probably as many or more instances of discrimination against persons in voting situations in other parts of the country as there are in the deep South," Cochran continued. "We have elected more African Americans in my state than any state in the Union."

"I think we can make a persuasive argument that we are committed to full political participation by all the citizens of our state irrespective of color, gender, or age, so I am insulted that Mississippi has to continue to carry this burden or mantle of suspicion in the eyes of our federal government," argued the senator. "I hope we continue to fight it."

"I want the law to be applied equally and fairly throughout the states," Cochran concluded. "It shouldn't be applied one way in one part of the country and another way in another part. We shouldn't have one region covered by the law and another region not covered."

"I think that is totally out of date and unjustified."

A Cochran spokesman said Monday evening that they weren't going to comment on the interview.

BuzzFeed News obtained this copy of the interview from Edward H. Sebesta, a widely-cited and high regarded expert on the neo-Confederate movement who maintains a collection of all the issues of the Southern Partisan, formerly one of the country's leading neo-Confederate magazines,

The magazine's store, as previously noted by BuzzFeed News, has featured full-page ads for the book Was Jefferson Davis Right?

Previous copies of the magazine have also featured a "General Store Catalogue" with a cotton t-shirt labeled "I have a dream" on the front, and featured an image of a Confederate flag flying over the White House. A shirt labeled "Lincoln's Worst Nightmare" on the front featured southern flags with the words "A States Rights Republican Majority From Dixie" imprinted on the back.

A book, So Good A Cause, A Decade of Southern Partisan, which featured some of the most notable writings from the magazine, contains articles bearing titles such as"John C. Calhoun Vindicated," "The World After the South Won," "The Dark Side of Abraham Lincoln," "The Truth about Jefferson Davis," "Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Death of Heroes," "Why the South Fought," and "Why Yankees Won't (And Can't) Leave the South Alone."

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.

Ilan Ben-Meir is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Ilan Ben-Meir at ilan.ben-meir@buzzfeed.com.

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