Choosing Sides : Right-Wing Icons in the Group Research Records

Picturing Partners > Under Attack

"What Kind of a Country Are You Leaving Me?" Mel-Belle Enterprises, c. 1967.

Printed by Mel-Belle Enterprises of Springfield, Illinois, this circa 1967 pamphlet used the imagined voice of the pictured baby to criticize the reach of government in social and economic terms. As the narrator explains, “I’m not very smart yet, but I’m smart enough to see what you are doing to the country in which I must grow up and support my family.” The pamphlet then went on to decry the prospect of a future with government-run medicine, education, housing, and employment, before criticizing taxes and supposedly inflated wages driven by organized labor.

Perhaps most famously illustrated by Lyndon Johnson’s reelection campaign in the so-called “Daisy” advertisement of 1964, activists from all political positions used children to symbolize the immediacy of many social or political trends during this period. The idea that conditions could change so quickly that the world a child was born in would look nothing like the world it grew up to heightened the urgency of the pamphlet’s final missive: “If there were any other place in the world where government wouldn’t plan my life for me even more so, it wouldn’t be so bad, but America is the only place left—and look what you are doing to it. Aren’t you ashamed!!!”

The Story of Ten Little Free Workers. Creator unknown, c. 1950s-1960s.

This poster borrowed from the popular folk song "Ten Little Indians" as a way of criticizing big government. In the most common version of the original song, the title characters are killed off in various ways until "there are none," a fate this poster warns could befall private business ventures in the United States "unless each of us works to preserve free enterprise."

While the exact provenance of the poster is unknown, numerous electric power companies distributed versions of it in markets throughout the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s, especially as newspaper advertisements. The connection between the poster and the power industry is betrayed by its use of the trademarked "Reddy Kilowatt" cartoon character to represent this business sector in the poster; power companies had widely-used the mascot in advertisements dating to the mid-1920s. The handwritten note in the top left corner was probably written by whomever collected this flyer for Group Research, Inc., since the "Wes" it referred to was the organization's founder, Wesley McCune.

We're Fed Up! Catholics Crucifying Nixon. Ben L. and George Roden, May 1974.

Ben L. Roden, leader of the Branch Davidian Seventh-day Adventist Association, and his son, George Roden, published this pamphlet in 1974 as an attack on Catholicism and specifically the role of Catholics in the federal government. The pamphlet’s opening lines neatly summarize its message: "Watergate is a Catholic plot used by the Pope to cover up [Edward] Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick, impeach [Richard] Nixon or bring him under papal control, and prepare the way for Kennedy’s election to the Presidency in ’76 and enforcement of National Sunday Laws." Although this particular conspiracy theory was perhaps unique--the Rodens declared that the Branch was "the first church in America to take a public stand against . . . the Vatican Watergate plot"--its individual elements of anti-Catholicism, fear of papal attempts to impose one-world government, and support for Nixon all appeared with some frequency in conservative political messages during the 1960s and 1970s.

While the Branch Davidian church is now best-known for the 1993 federal raid on its compound near Waco, Texas, the church’s origins lay in a schism from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in the 1930s, and this pamphlet is replete with references to the split. This is apparent in the quotation appearing on the cover image, taken from Adventist founder Ellen G. White’s The Great Controversy, a book that laid out many tenets of Adventist theology and from which the Rodens frequently quoted in their text. The pamphlet also attacks the General Conference for refusing to criticize Catholics, because of the supposed ranks of Jesuit priests who had “infiltrated” the mainstream Adventist sect.

Personal Christianity, Volume 15, Number 7. C.S. Lovett; Personal Christianity Chapel, July 1975.

Along with three colleagues, C.S. Lovett founded the Personal Christianity ministry in 1951. Based in Baldwin Park, California, near Los Angeles, this still-operational non-denominational church emphasizes the distribution of spiritual texts as a path to Christian conversion.

Personal Christianity’s book list runs forty-five titles deep, beginning with C.S. Lovett’s Soul-Winning Made Easy, first published in 1954. While many of Lovett’s books have focused on teaching people how to convert others to Christianity (including Witnessing Made Easy and What to Do When Your Friends Reject Christ), he has also frequently taken a cue from self-help literature. This was evident in works like the health-focused Help, Lord! The Devil Wants Me Fat, and the parenting guide, What’s a Parent To Do? It is also on display in The Devil Wants You Deep in Debt, the subject of the pictured newsletter.

"Do You Feel Torn. . . ?" Freedom Fellowship, 1975.

This image comes from one side of an advertising mailing for Freedom Today, a newsletter published by Diane Nobel’s Freedom Fellowship church in Phoenix, Arizona. Strongly libertarian, Freedom Today offered information "about products, services, organization, photography and graphics devoted to help in your pursuit of personal freedom." Covered topics included "self-assertion techniques," "setting your own office hours," and "living on a boat in good times and bad," but Freedom Today’s primary focus was on avoiding government interference in individual lives. This extended to topics as diverse as medical care, international travel, and the post office, but above all: taxes. As the advertisement pictured here explained: "Subscribe Now and we’ll start your subscription with our Special Tax Strike Issue. It contains everything you need to legally stop paying taxes."

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