LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ A former official who resigned from a Republican post in Arkansas said Thursday he’s not a racist and that he will not quit a group that bills itself as “pro-white.”
John Casteel, 71, who stepped down as Jackson County’s Republican chairman this week, said he has belonged to the Council of Conservative Citizens since its inception more than two decades ago.
“To me, the council is more important,” Casteel said. “I’m not going to turn my back on an organization … just because some socialistic blogger says I’m a racist.”
The liberal-leaning blog Blue Arkansas noted Monday that Casteel’s e-mail address was listed as the contact for the council’s Arkansas chapter and also for the Jackson County GOP. The council took Casteel’s name off its website after The Associated Press contacted the group about the connection.
The Council of Conservative Citizens rose from the ashes of organizations that battled school integration in the 1950s and 1960s. State Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb called on Casteel to quit the council, saying its principles don’t align with the GOP’s. Casteel quit his GOP leadership post instead.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the former railroad man who later ventured into insurance said he sits on the Council of Conservative Citizens’ national board of directors.
“It’s the only organization in the United States that’s actually actively _ internationally and in this country _ trying to save this country from communism, socialism and the Islamic takeover of this world,” he said.
He reflected fondly on his non-white friends and his contributions to minority communities in eastern Arkansas.
“It really hurts me that somebody calls me a racist,” Casteel said. “I’ve got a lot of black friends.”
Casteel’s daughter, Donna, took the phone from her father and sang his praises.
“This is a small town and my dad’s done a lot here for the black community to have a voice in politics,” she said.