A longtime advisor and pollster for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) criticized civil rights heroes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela during his tenure as the editor-in-chief for a neo-Confederate magazine, Buzzfeed reported on Wednesday.
“Ignoring the real heroes in our nation’s life, the blacks have chosen a man who represents not their emancipation, not their sacrifices and bravery in service to their country,” Richard Quinn said about King in a column for the Southern Partisan in 1983. “Rather, they have chosen a man whose role in history was to lead his people into a perpetual dependence on the welfare state, a terrible bondage of body and soul.”
Seven years later, Quinn questioned in a column whether Americans were aware that Mandela was a “bad egg.”
“After all, Mr. Mandela was put in jail 27 years ago – not because of his humanitarian philosophy – but because he was a terrorist who openly advocated (and personally committed) violence against the government,” he wrote.
However, Quinn — whose consulting firm received $200,000 from Graham during the last election cycle — has since disavowed both those columns and the magazine’s viewpoints, telling Buzzfeed that he “wrote some things on the wrong side of history.”
“I expressed views 15 to 20 years ago I no longer hold,” he said. “In a fair world you’re writing a story that shouldn’t be written.”
Quinn also downplayed his involvement with the magazine, saying it was another client for his consulting firm. He made a similar argument in an interview with the New York Times in 2000.
“I am not the working day-to-day editor of Southern Partisan,” he said at the time. “My title as editor in chief is purely honorary. Frankly, I do not personally read the articles before they are printed, and I certainly disagree with many of the opinions expressed by others on the pages of the magazine.”
But Buzzfeed noted that Quinn said 12 years earlier that the Partisan was “about the soul of the South.”
“There are traditions for respect for the land, family integrity and honor, a strong belief in God and the power of prayer,” Quinn told the Washington Post in 1988. “The South has historically been given the guilt of slavery. People seem to forget that slavery was an economic transaction, shipped in through Northern ports and sold to Southern planters.”
Quinn was quoted as recently as last month as an advisor to Graham in a story regarding his prospects as a presidential contender.
“I know him pretty well, and I don’t think he would get into this if he weren’t giving it serious thought,” he told the U.S. News & World Report. “He would do extremely well in South Carolina, and I think he would exceed expectations elsewhere.”