Nazis, Communists, Klansmen, and Others on the Fringe: Political Extremism in America

By John George; Laird Wilcox | Go to book overview

29 Common Sense

I am an American citizen and view with alarm the condition of our once free Republic. I might say that I am afraid of our future. I am not afraid of Kosygin or the Russian people. I am not afraid of Red China or of Tito or any other Communist leader in the world. I am afraid of what my President, my Senators and Supreme Court Justices are doing to my country. . . . Your enemy is in Washington and you had better know that! 1

We handed a folded copy of the paper containing this quotation to a conservative businessman of our acquaintance. He read it and asked what communist group put out this particular publication. When informed that the paper he held was the now defunct right-extremist publication Common Sense, he remarked that he had always said the extreme left and right were a lot alike, but he had never encountered such a graphic example.

As is often the case with extremist publications, the twice-monthly newspaper Common Sense was much better known than the organization responsible for it--the Union City, New Jersey-based Christian Education Association. It was founded in 1946 by Conde McGinley. According to Arnold Forster and Benjamin R. Epstein:

Before becoming a professional anti-Semite, McGinley operated a roadside stand in Texas and later emigrated to New Jersey to work in a war plant. The first issue of Common Sense was published by him on June 29, 1947, after a year of experimenting with a similar sheet called Think Weekly. Initial press runs were small, and McGinley remained another obscure pin on the bigotry map until he was befriended by Benjamin Freedman, the wealthy retired businessman and renegade Jew who devotes himself to the Arab cause. 2

Forster and Epstein note that Common Sense's initial press run in 1947 was 7,000 copies and at the time of their writing ( 1956) McGinley "declared the paid circulation to be slightly over 20,000 mailed second class." 3 In the early 1960s the four-page tabloid enjoyed a circulation of around ninety thousand, but it slipped to under thirty thousand in the 1970s. According to Richard Dudman, between October 1960 and October 1961 the circulation went from 84,000 to 89,500. 4

McGinley remained at the helm until his death in 1963. His son carried on for a time, but in the mid-sixties the paper was purchased by four persons, two

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