Friday, May 8, 2015

John Kasper (1929â€"1998) was an American far-right activist and Ku Klux Klan member who took a militant stand against racial integration during the civil rights movement.


John Kasper

Educated at Columbia University, Kasper became a devotee of Ezra Pound and corresponded with him as a student. Between 1950 and 1963 Kasper sent 400 letters to Pound and received an unknown amount of replies (Pound's letters to Kasper are lost). In the letters Kasper identifies with Pound and within a short time of beginning the correspondence he considered himself Pound's main disciple. Directed by Pound, Kasper started a small press (Square Dollar Press) in 1951 to publish works the poet favored; in 1953 he opened the Make it New bookshop in Greenwich Village, displaying Pound's letter's in the shop window. Kasper campaigned against racial integration in the South, calling it a Jewish plot. In these activities and others, Kasper believed he was disseminating the poet's ideas. Pound's association with Kasper caused chagrin among those who were attempting to have Pound released from St. Elizabeths Hospital where he was incarcerated on charges of treason.

After running a bookshop in Greenwich Village he moved to Washington, DC, where he befriended Pound and set up a company to publish the poet's works, as well as those of others such as Charles Olson. Imbibing Pound's right-wing ideas, he formed the Seaboard White Citizens Council immediately after Brown v. Board of Education in order to prevent desegregation in Washington.

Kasper came to prominence during the integration of Clinton High School in Clinton, Tennessee. He sought to mobilize the opponents of the desegregation order, and was arrested during the resulting unrest. Kasper was acquitted in the subsequent trial that included a number of jurors who served on the arresting auxiliary police force. As a result of this incident, Kasper became a focal point at a number of such protests across the south, often an unwelcome one. While he was campaigning, Kasper was jailed for crimes ranging from inciting a riot to loitering. He was a suspect in a school bombing in Nashville as well as a number of synagogue bombingsâ€"he was a virulent antisemiteâ€"although no evidence was provided to link him directly to any of the cases.

He served eight months for conspiracy in 1957. Upon his release, he called for a return to Constitutionalism, and the creation of a third party to oppose the integration that was now supported by both Democrats and Republicans. He later became associated with the National States' Rights Party and ran in the 1964 Presidential election with J. B. Stoner as his running mate. Kasper attracted negligible support: just 6,434 votes in just two states, Kentucky and Arkansas. Kasper returned to his northern roots in 1967 and effectively left politics, settling down to family life and a series of clerical jobs.


External links

John Kasper's FBI files obtained through the FOIA and hosted at the Internet Archive

John Kasper
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