Texas Ed Board Candidate Doubles Down on ‘Pilgrims Were Communists’ Claim

Gail Spurlock, a Republican candidate for the District 12 seat on the Texas State Board of Education, has written a “clarification” of her contention that the Pilgrims nearly destroyed their colony and themselves because they practiced communism. In an email being circulated today by supporter Donna “Jeffrey Dahmer Believed in Evolution” Garner, Spurlock suggests that “the media has chosen to highlight” her statement about the Pilgrims. (By “media,” perhaps she means TFN Insider. We note that the Dallas Observer also blogged about this story, but the post’s source was TFN Insider.) Spurlock’s “clarification of her statement”:

The Pilgrims did come to America and did experiment with a communist system of communal owned and operated property. This system caused confusion, discontent, and a lack of entrepreneurship and individual initiative. The men who were the most able were jealous because they got paid the same amount as those who did not do as much work. The most able women who did the heaviest communal chores began to feel the same type of discontent. This discontent led to the lack of a strong work ethic; and the failure of the communist experiment began to lead to illness, starvation, and death.

Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Governor William Bradford began to study the situation and realized the root cause of failure was the communist system. He decided to change course and started giving each settler his own piece of land. The settlers began to work harder on their own land because they knew they would reap the benefits. Soon the entire colony began to prosper under the new system; and the rest is history.

Conclusion: Communism does not work; by the same token, big government does not work effectively either because it destroys individual responsibility and initiative.

Indeed America has proved that the free enterprise system does work because it encourages entrepreneurship, competition, self-control, individual liberty, a strong work ethic, individual responsibility, self-discipline, and all the benefits derived thereof.

America is an exceptional nation because our forefathers built it upon the free enterprise system combined with the Judeo-Christian ethic of generosity and love. When a nation thrives and is prosperous, everyone benefits.

Spurlock offers links to articles from the conservative Heritage Foundation and Hoover Institute websites to back up her claim. In fact, this story is hardly new — it’s pretty much swept through the right-wing blogosphere over the past few years. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have also promoted it, as have websites like Creation Worldview Ministries.

The problem is: it’s a distortion of history. So we’ll refer (again) to this New York Times article from last fall, in which historians thoroughly debunked the claim:

Historians say that the settlers in Plymouth, and their supporters in England, did indeed agree to hold their property in common — William Bradford, the governor, referred to it in his writings as the “common course.” But the plan was in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.

“It was directed ultimately to private profit,” said Richard Pickering, a historian of early America and the deputy director of Plimoth Plantation, a museum devoted to keeping the Pilgrims’ story alive.

The arrangement did not produce famine. If it had, Bradford would not have declared the three days of sport and feasting in 1621 that became known as the first Thanksgiving. “The celebration would never have happened if the harvest was going to be less than enough to get them by,” Mr. Pickering said. “They would have saved it and rationed it to get by.”

The Times notes that some Tea Party folks, like Dick Armey, also claim that the settlers of another early English colony — in Jamestown, Va. —  nearly failed because of communism. But historians say that claim is just as absurd as the one about the Pilgrims:

“To call it socialism is wildly inaccurate,” said Karen Ordahl Kupperman, a historian at New York University and the author of “The Jamestown Project.” “It was a contracted company, and everybody worked for the company. I mean, is Halliburton a socialist scheme?”

Jamestown certainly was plagued with problems, the Times story notes, like malaria and drought:

But the biggest problem, Professor Kupperman said, was the lack of planning. The Virginia settlers came to the New World thinking that they could find gold or a route to the Pacific Ocean via the Chesapeake Bay, and make a quick buck by setting up a trading station like others were establishing in the East Indies.

“It was just wishful thinking,” she said, “a failure to recognize that these things are really, really difficult.”

Look, Gail Spurlock can believe whatever she wants, even if it’s that the Pilgrims were radicals seeking a socialist utopia more than two centuries before Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto. It’s a free country, after all. But it’s important to remember that she wants to serve on the State Board of Education, which approves curriculum standards that guide what public schools teach students across Texas. Just sayin’.

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8 Comments

  1. Bob Davis
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    The United States has seen a series of Utopian communities established with the goal of trying to create a perfect society “removed from the tawdry and corrupt influences of an increasingly industrialized society”; such as the Shakers, the Nashoba community, and Brook Farm. (source:Living History America, Brunn and Crosby). Ms. Spurlock needs to get up to speed

  2. Teresa Hawthorne
    Posted May 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    George Clayton is the only qualified candidate. I hope all agree.

  3. Posted May 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    A report on a May 1 forum of SBOE District 12 candidates, including Gail Spurlock, can be read HERE.

  4. Doc Bill
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Anyone who doesn’t agree with me is a COMMUNIST PINKO LIBERAL SOCIALIST NAZI LIBERAL ELITE LIBERAL!!!!!

  5. Beverly Kurtin
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Sometimes I put a large, heavy rubber band and attach it to a door handle. Then, I push the door away and when it comes back it hits my head. I keep doing that as punishment for being born in a country that has so many mentally handicapped individuals who CHOSE to handicap themselves.
    Denying evolution because it is “only a theory” is like saying gravity is “only a theory.” Once a scientific theory is proven it is many times still called a theory. Unfortunately, those people who have deliberately shut down their brain circuits to ignore SCIENCE do not know what the word “theory” means.
    The THEORY OF RELATIVITY has been proven; it gave us the nuclear bomb. THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION can be proven by simply watching an organism change into a form that will improve their survival.
    Did God kick it all into being. HELL YES! And , BTW, there ain’t no such thing as HELL. It is not a cuss word.
    I did not earn my doctorate by reading the bible, although I do read it but ONLY IN CONTEXT; I do not wrest “favorite verses” to “prove” something. When I read the scriptures I read what is being said, understanding what it meant when it was written, and understanding the culture that created it.

    I will leave this thought: The bible clearly states THERE IS NO GOD.

    Go find it. It is in Psalm 14:1

  6. Ben
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    But…but…Gail *wants* her BS to be true. Doesn’t that count for something?

  7. Charles
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I think it is time to run this historical film clip again. Jamestown nearly died out the first year because they came looking for gold and other riches like the Spaniards did in Mexico and Peru. They gave little thought to actually making a living and apparently no sensible planning. It was not communism. It was just plain dumb butt stupidity and laziness:

  8. Charles
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Folks. It’s the same old strategy all over again.

    We saw it with George W. Bush. He dang near destroyed the entire country in 8 arch conservative RWNJ years, which he also did with his previous private businesses—entirely predictable.

    What was the RWNJ mantra when he left office? Bush was not conservative enough, which explained everything bad that went wrong? Answer? Double or triple down next time on being a RWNJ. If one fruitcake is not enough, then try 2, 5, 10, or 100 next time.

    I can see this lady has been reading the party playbook.

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