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GOP lawmaker Michele Fiore defends Confederate flag as history

Michele Fiore

Cathleen Allison / AP

In this June 3, 2013, file photo, Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, works in committee during the final day of the 77th Legislative session at the Legislative Building in Carson City.

Updated Wednesday, July 8, 2015 | 4:34 p.m.

CARSON CITY — A Republican Nevada assemblywoman defended the Confederate flag on Wednesday, saying it's a piece of American history and should remain in place at the South Carolina statehouse in spite of efforts to remove it.

Las Vegas lawmaker Michele Fiore made the comments in a campaign email as lawmakers in South Carolina debate the flag's fate. Pressure has mounted to ban display of the banner on state and federal property in the weeks after nine people, including a state senator, were fatally shot at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The accused killer, Dylann Roof, posed with the Confederate flag in online photos and reportedly has told authorities that he wanted to start a race war.

Fiore said she doesn't view the flag as a racist symbol, and compared a ban on the flag to avoiding discussion about concentration camps and genocide.

"The flag is trivial item that represents a part of our history, but it's just that, OUR HISTORY!" she wrote in the email, which also touched on a plan to repeal taxes and solicited campaign donations. "You can't pick and choose which parts of our history you want to remember because without all of it, the good and the bad, we would not live in the USA we know today."

Opponents of displaying the flag have said it's a painful symbol of slavery and has, like the swastika, become an emblem of hate groups.

In response to the uproar, the network TV Land has pulled reruns of the show "Dukes of Hazzard" over a Dodge Charger named General Lee that features a Confederate flag decal.

Fiore told The Associated Press that she loves the show and the car, and hopes to install a horn on her truck by next week that sounds like the multi-toned one in General Lee. The installation is meant to show "you can't continually erase American history," she said.

The outspoken Fiore is no stranger to controversial comments. She drew backlash this spring when she explained her proposal to allow guns on college campuses to The New York Times, saying "young, hot little girls" with guns could prevent assaults and crime would go down "once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head."

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