Sixty years ago this September, 100 young conservatives launched Young Americans for Freedom at William F. Buckley’s home in Sharon, Connecticut. There they wrote the Sharon Statement, the new organization’s founding document, which has been described by the New York Times as the “seminal document” of the Conservative Movement. The principles that it puts forth still ring true 60 years later. Today, the Sharon Statement serves as the foundational document for more than 500 YAF chapters nationwide.
In this series, “We As Young Conservatives Believe”, we will break down the Sharon Statement and look more closely at how it continues to speak to young Americans today.
“We as young conservatives believe…”
“That the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with, this menace;”
“Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy “accommodation.” And they say if we’ll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he’ll forget his evil ways and learn to love us.” – Ronald Reagan, A Time for Choosing
In 1965, Young Americans for Freedom organized a boycott of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company after it announced that it was opening a new rubber plant in the Soviet satellite state of Romania. At the time, Romania was increasing its trade with China which was in turn trading with the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong. The YAF activists who organized the boycott felt that an American company shouldn’t be looking to trade resources which could be used to help kill the American soldiers in the escalating conflict in Vietnam.
Despite the boycotts, Firestone decided to push on and open the rubber plant. However, that changed when YAF threatened to promote the boycott at the Indianapolis 500. YAF activists were planning on being in attendance and passing out leaflets outlining the risks of Firestone’s new plant. YAF’s plan was highlighted with a plane that was going to be flying over the racetrack with a banner that read “The Vietcong ride on Firestone”. Firestone recognized the potential backlash and ended up cancelling the project a few weeks before the race.
The YAF activists who organized the boycott were certainly not alone in recognizing the need to stand up to the Soviet Union and its satellite states. Americans recognized the economic and strategic threat that the Soviet Union posed to the United States. However, Americans seemed resigned to the existence and continual threat of the Soviet Union until President Reagan’s strong stance on opposing Communism led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
Today, Americans are finally waking up to the threat posed by a rising and expansionist China. However, many American companies, just like Firestone back in 1965, are more interested in appeasing the Chinese Communist government in order to gain access to the Chinese markets.
For example, when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morsey posted a tweet in favor of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, many around the league swiftly condemned him. LeBron James said that Morsey was “misinformed” and that he didn’t see the ramifications of his tweet. Some of those ramifications were that Houston Rockets games were not going to be broadcast in China anymore.
Until there are significant consequences for refusing to stand up for human rights in China, companies such as the NBA are going to do what they feel is in their economic interest and continue to accommodate the Chinese Communist Party. Americans who want to see democracy prevail, in Hong Kong and in China, should not remain silent. Instead, Americans should refuse to accept the notion that we have to put up with the human rights abuses of the Chinese Communist Party. American democracy achieved a victory over Soviet Communism, and it can do so again.
To read the previous post in this series, click here.
To read the next post in this series, click here.
Karl Stahlfeld is the associate director of YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise.