Michael Conde McGinley (October 13, 1890 – July 2, 1963) editor of a semi-monthly paper called Common Sense, received national attention for a brief period due to his campaign against the nomination of Anna M. Rosenberg, which led to an investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Born in Norman, Oklahoma, the eldest of three surviving children of Irish immigrant Connell B. McGinley (1852 – 1941) and his wife, Catherine. McGinley preferred to be known by his middle name Conde. He married Celia Brown around 1918. Around this time he claimed that he was "Secretary of the Grady County Highway Association" in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He moved with his parents to the Dallas, Texas area, where his daughter Nona was born in 1927, and where his father died in 1941.
McGinley moved to New Jersey in 1929, opening a chain of restaurants along the shore. During World War II, he worked as an inspector in a defense plant. In 1946, he began editing a weekly paper in Newark, New Jersey called variously Think, The Think and Think Weekly. By June 1947, it was issued as Common Sense. In November 1947, the headquarters were transferred to Union Township, Union County, New Jersey. The paper became semi-monthly in 1948.
Although the first issues were anti-Communist, it later developed into a mostly anti-Semitic broadsheet, produced by himself, with his son and daughter-in-law. Around 1948, he sued America magazine and others (including Walter Winchell) for libel, and the case dragged on for about seven years. (see Rev Lafarge's papers at Georgetown University, America magazine archives at Georgetown University)
In one issue of 1948, a major part of the paper was taken up by support for Robert Best, who had been convicted of treason (broadcasting Nazi propaganda from Germany during World War II). In the July and August 1949 issues, W. Henry MacFarland Jr.'s name appears as associate editor. "At the time Conde was planning to combine forces with MacFarland's Nationalist Action League, as well as with the Loyal American Group, headed by William J. O'Brien." O'Brien later joined the paper's staff.
The paper, among other authors, carried articles by Eustace Mullins starting September 1951. In 1953, he became a writer on staff. In addition, articles were carried by Frederick C. F. Weiss, Kurt Mertig (founder of the National Renaissance Party), Elizabeth Dilling, Lyrl Clark Van Hyning, Gen. George Van Horn Moseley, Col. Eugene N. Sanctuary and Charles B. Hudson. Circulation, at its height, averaged 50,000 copies.
The paper's contributor, Col. Eugene Sanctuary, had, among other things, written a pamphlet Is the New Deal Communist? in which he made a 35-point comparison of The New Deal to Karl Marx's 1848 program. He also wrote an editor's note in I. B. Pranaitis' The Talmud Unmasked: The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians (New York: N.p., 1939).
Involvement with the House Un-American Activities Committee
At the confirmation hearings for Anna Rosenberg, McGinley and others associated with him were prominently figured, including Benjamin H. Freedman, who had partially financed Common Sense. The fallout of this brought him into the sights of House Un-American Activities Committee, which issued a 1954 report condemning his propaganda. Preliminary Report on Neo-Fascist and Hate Groups (PDF file, 3 Meg), Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 1954:
- Growth of the hate group in recent years is exemplified by the publishing endeavors of Conde J. McGinley and his son, C.J. McGinley, in Union, N.J. The McGinleys, senior and junior, operate as the Christian Educational Association, for the purpose of publishing a semimonthly paper, Common Sense, as well as a mass of individual printed matter.
- Common Sense represents itself as the "Nation's anti-Communist paper." Subscriptions are sought from "loyal and patriotic Americans" in order to "help save our Republic".
- Such patriotic claims provide poor disguise, however, for some of the most vitriolic hate propaganda ever to come to the attention of the committee. Common Sense defines communism as "Judaism" and devotes its pages almost exclusively to attacks on the Jewish and to a lesser extent the Negro minorities in our Nation. Sympathy for the former Nazi regime in Germany also is injected into this propaganda, which is hardly distinguishable from that of the National Renaissance Party except for the latter's open appeal for a fascist government in the United States.
- Despite its patriotic claims, Common Sense has in fact employed and/or carried the writings of a number of individuals associated with the National Renaissance Party. Through the columns of Common Sense and innumerable booklets printed and offered for sale, the McGinleys appear to serve as a clearinghouse for hate propagandists throughout the country. Among these are many of the native fascists and hate racketeers who were active in the 1930s.
- In contrast to the limited appeal of the openly fascist National Renaissance Party, the McGinley enterprise appears to be a shrewd and going business.
In response, "Conde McGinley of Common Sense urged the committee to hold a public hearing and 'if we cannot prove our statements we'll be very willing to cease publication'."
Christian Education Association
In 1954, McGinley formed the Christian Education Association with himself as president, his son as secretary/treasurer and Alex Jefimow as vice-president. The operation was at 530 Chestnut Street in Union, a building owned by Katherine Lettig, who was also a volunteer for the paper. The group also operated the Union Patriotic Press, whose officers were Charles Kane, John J. Reynolds and Edward J. Byrne.
In 1955, he was sued for $250,000 in punitive damages, for libel, by Rabbi Joachim Prinz (1902-1988) in Superior Court in Newark, New Jersey. McGinley had published that Prinz was "expelled in 1937 from Germany for revolutionary communistic activities". McGinley was defended by three attorneys, including Albert Dilling, former husband of Elizabeth Dilling Stokes, and their son, Kirkpatrick Dilling. The jury awarded Prinz $30,000, agreeing that "the biweekly publication was lying when it characterized him as a 'Red Rabbi'".
Closure of Common Sense
The magazine National Vanguard claimed that:
All the assets of Common Sense were liquidated and publication stopped when the proprietoress who had inherited the operation after McGinley's death, and who had published the paper for a decade, up until 1970, had a "religious experience" stimulated by a Jewish con-man named Paul Pulitzer, who convinced her to devote her life to a "true Pope" who ran a "Vatican" in Quebec at that time but which apparently, like McGinley's life's work and fortune, has evaporated as surely as the dews of Springs long past. Thereby a truth-telling publication annoying to the Zionists was terminated and many valuable files were destroyed; and those were probably the aims of Pulitzer's bosses from the beginning.
- Ancestry.com site - available only in Cache version
- New York Times, March 30, 1955, p. 26
- New York Times, April 1, 1955, p. 9
- Obituary, "CONDE J. M'GINLEY, EDITOR, 73, IS DEAD; Ran Common Sense, Called Anti-Semitic by House Unit", July 2, 1963, The New York Times, pg 30. Accessed May 27, 2013.
- New York Times, 16 Jun 1972
- National Vanguard, November 20, 2004
- 1900-1930 Federal U.S. Census
- World War I Draft Registration Card
- Texas Birth Index, Texas Death Index
- Preliminary Report on Neo-Fascist and Hate Groups (PDF file, 3 Meg), Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 1954
- Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 6: September, 1961-August, 1964. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1965. (BioIn 6)
- Epstein, B., Forster, A. The Radical Right, 1967 (104)
- Forster, A., Epstein, B. Danger on the Right, 1964 (35)
- Heidenry, J., Theirs Was the Kingdom, 1993 (210)
- Nikitin, V. The Ultras in the USA, 1981 (144)